Volkovysk (Vołkovysk, Wolkowysk) | Hrodno

/ Ivan P. was requisitioned to transport the Jews to the train station    © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum Maria R. recounted that she had many Jewish friends    © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum Cheslav R. recalled the destroyed Jewish houses after the German bombings      © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum Edmund Zh. witnessed the Jews moving to the ghetto and remembered them looking very sad    © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum Leonid P. showed his medals to the Yahad team    © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum A former military barrack, which was part of the Jewish ghetto    © David Merlin-Dufey - Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Volkovysk

2 Execution site(s)

Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 1,000

Witness interview

Ivan P. : "It was in winter, and because I had a sleigh, I was also requisitioned by the Germans. They told us to go into the ghetto. Later, we had to take the Jews to the train station in Volkovysk. We had to push the people into the train cars. The police officers drank rum to give themselves “courage." (Witness N°422, interviewed in December 2010)

Soviet archives

“Then, in the autumn of 1942, everyone (around 1,000 people) was taken to the Volkovysk concentration camp. The German gendarmerie guarded all of it. The men from the Gestapo beat the Jews with batons. In order to transport the Jews, the Gestapo requisitioned about 300 carts, but a lot of the Jews had to walk. The sick Jews had to stay in the ghetto.”[Act of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG22.022M/7021-86/37]

Historical note

Volkovysk is a city located 82 kilometers south of Hrodno. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, 3000 Jewish refugees from German- occupied Poland settled there, so that the total number of Jews was somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 before Germany’s invasion of the USSR. There was also a large Polish community. The city was under German occupation from 1941 until 1944.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

In June 1941, aerial German bombers destroyed 75% of Volkovysk and killed about 1,000 to 1,500 people, most of whom were Jews. In mid-July 1941, 200 Jews from the elite class as well as those who were mentally handicapped were executed. At the end of 1941, an open ghetto was established in the city ruins, in three different areas. Yellow signs were required to be posted above the doors of Jewish houses. The ghetto could be considered a transit camp in which the Germans concentrated all the Jews of the area, about 2,000 in total. Notably, the Jews were forced to work on demolition and construction projects. The ghetto was liquidated through the course of several different actions, scheduled between November 1942, and January 1943. The Jews were sent to the extermination camps of Treblinka or Auschwitz. A certain number of them managed to escape to the local forests around Volkovysk and joined the partisans. According to witnesses interviewed by Yahad-In Unum, Jews were also shot near Volkovysk in an area known as « Prokhovnia ».

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