3 Execution site(s)
Anfisa K., born in 1934: “I went to the field with my mother and saw two covered trucks loaded with civilians in their way from Postavy to the shooting site in Kashitsy. The people in the trucks were crying quite loudly. They were shot afterards. I believe my cousin was killed there as well because he tried to escape. Both Jews and Belarusians were taken by Germans. One day I went to the forest in Kashitsy with my mother and saw the execution site after the shooting. The pit had been slightly filled in. I saw a sock on the ground, tried to take it, but it turned out to be a child’s foot. People said that gypsies were also killed there. One gypsy lady used to come to visit the mass grave and say that her mother had been killed there.” (Testimony n°881, interviewed in Kashitsy, on May 12, 2016)
"During the German occupation, about 1500 Jews lived in Postavy. In 1942 the entire Jewish population was confined in the ghetto, located on 3 streets in the northern part of the town. Jews from nearby villages of the district, such as Dunilovichi, were also interned there. Overall, they rounded up around 4,000 Jews. The Germans officially registered 2,500 of them, while the rest lived without registration. In November 1942, the Germans, under the order of S. started to shoot Jews in their homes and on the streets. The shooting lasted 10 days. The corpses were collected and buried in mass graves to the north of the town. Personally, I stayed in hiding between houses during the shooting and went into the forest at night.” [Interrogatory report of a Jewish survivor, Feigel Yankel, made on April 21, 1945, to the State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 83, Delo 13 ]
Postavy is located 250 km west of Vitebsk and 166 km south of Minsk, close to Lithuanian border. At the end of the 19th century, there were 1310 Jews in the town, in 1921 the Jewish population had increased to about 2,500. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 3 synagogues in Postavy, 34 shops, a private Jewish academy and heders. In late summer and early autumn of 1915, the Jews suffered from a wave of pogroms conducted by the Cossacks. The Cossacks looted Jewish houses and shops, beat and humiliated them. The majority of Jews lived off small trade and handicraft. There was a Tarbut school, even though some Jews went to Polish school alongside local Poles. On the eve of the war, there were around 2,500 Jews in Postavy, representing half of local population. The Germans occupied the town on June 30, 1941.
The ghetto was created in Postavy in July 1941 shortly after the German’s arrival. The territory of the ghetto was located between Basiliana, Kolezhova and Braslava streets. It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Germans. The number of inmates from Postavy and nearby villages varies between 848 and 3000, according to different reports. As in many towns of the region, a Jewish council was established. The Jewish inmates were subjected to different kinds of forced labor, humiliation and abuse at the hands of policemen and Germans. According to some sources, confirmed by local witnesses, the local residents could hire Jews from the ghetto for work after having procured a special authorization from the town administration.
The executions started from the very beginning of the occupation. Systematically, Jewish inmates from the ghetto were taken in groups to the forest where they were shot. At the beginning of 1942, 55 Jews (30 women and 25 men) were rounded up and taken in two trucks to the Kashitsy forest, located 5 km away from Postavy and shot. According to one witness, Gypsies and non-Jews were also among the victims.
The next Aktion took place in late November 1942 when the ghetto was liquidated. The execution site was located in a field close to the Lenin Street. According to one witness interviewed by Yahad, there were two lines of Germans. In the first line were Germans in black uniforms with submachine guns kneeling down. They conducted the shooting. Two meters behind them there was another line of Germans in blue uniforms with dogs. They were probably guards. Before being shot, all Jews were searched, but they did not have to undress. The victims were lined up on the edge of the pit, facing it, and were shot in one group. It was a column several rows deep, about 10 meters long. When it was over, the Germans started walking around the pit and finishing off the victims with single shots. The pit was filled in by requisitioned locals.
According to the archives and the monument at the site, approximately 4000 Jews were killed in Postavy. Many Jews managed to flee into the forest where they joined the partisans who cooperated with the resistance group organized in the Postavy ghetto.
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