1 Execution site(s)
Nadia B., born in 1924, an eyewitness to the shooting: “The Jews were brought by truck to the pits that had been dug in advance. There were three or four pits in all. Once on the site, the Jews were forced to get off the trucks and walk toward the pit. They were forced to undress and put their clothing in a pile. I didn’t see that by myself but I know that their valuables and gold teeth were taken away. Then, in small groups they would get inside the pit and walk towards the other extremity. There was a small slope in the pit so they could get inside easily. While waking the Germans shot at their backs from the machine guns.
YIU: What color of uniform did the Germans have?
W: It was greenish or kaki. I don’t remember that well.
YIU: How many Germans were there?
W: They were about ten or fifteen. I did not count them.
YIU: Were there only Germans or was there also police?
W: I cannot tell you if there were policemen among them. I saw only Germans.” (Testimony n°59, interviewed in Pyatydni, on April 2nd, 2007)
“In 1941, a special death squad sent to Volodymyr Volynskyi, carried out the retaliation against the population, in particularly against the Jews. They organized a pogrom against the Jews. There were three pogroms in 1942. All Jews were gathered and taken in trucks out of the village. On the site they were forced to undress, lie down, at the bottom of the pit, and after they were shot. About 22, 000 Jews were shot this way”. [Act n°1 drawn up by the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on October 11th, 1944; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021. Opis 55. Delo 1]
Pyatydni is located on the banks of the Luga River, 83km northwest of Lutsk. In 1897 there were 48 Jews in the village. However, much bigger Jewish community lived in the nearing town of Volodymyr-Volynskyi (Ludmir in Yiddish), located 8 km west of Pyatydni. The Jewish community is this town dates back to 12th century. By 1662, there were 318 Jews living in the town, and in 1765 - 1,327 Jews. By 1897, 5,869 Jews remained in the town comprising
r more than a half of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small scaled trade and handcraft, such as shoemaking, tailoring and leather processing. In the second part of 19th century there were seven synagogues in the town and a Talmud Torah. In the course of the history the Jewish community suffered from several waves of pogroms carried out in 1648-1649, and in 1919. Between the two world wars the town was under the Polish rule. Several political and cultural organizations operated in the town until 1939, when they were banned once the town was annexed by the Soviet Union as a result of Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. In 1937, about 40% of the total population was Jews. By 1941, its number increased due to arrival of Jewish refugees from Poland.
The Germans occupied the town on June 23, 1941. The Jews murdered in Pyatydni were native from Volodymyr-Volynskyi. They were brought from the ghetto created in the mid-April 1942, where also the Jews from the nearby villages were relocated. According to different estimation it numbered from 15,000 to 18,000 Jews. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Jewish police from inside and by Ukrainian from outside. Later the ghetto was divided in two parts, for skilled and unskilled workers. Before the creation of the ghetto, other anti-Jewish measures were implemented shortly after the occupation. All Jews were registered and marked. A Jewish council, police was created. The first killings started in the first months. According to the sources between 1,500 and 2,000 Jews were killed in the course of ten months. The Jews were rounded-up on the streets or at their homes under the pretext of force labor. However, they were murdered in the prison country yard where they were buried. The first mass execution was conducted on September 1st, 1942, when about 14,000-15,000 Jewish inmates from the Volodymyr Volynskyi ghetto were brought to Pyatydni and shot in the pits dug by the Jews themselves. The Jews were brought in trucks. On the site they were forced to disrobe and were shot in groups at the bottom of the pits. Another mass execution, during which several thousand people were killed, took place on the 13th of November, 1942. After these aktions approximately 5,000 Jews still lived in the town. The majority of them were specialists and their families. They were murdered in the course of two mass executions carried out on November 13th, 1942, and December 13th, 1942. These mass murders didn’t take place in Pyatydni. The executions were carried out by Sonderkomando 4b, Wehrmacht soldiers who participated in the first killings and local police who assisted the Germans.
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