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Lubov B., born in 1929, told us about the fate of the Jews from her village: “12 Jewish families living in our village were taken by Germans in the Kletnya ghetto in September 1941 after being denounced by local police. On the day of the shooting, I saw a column of about fifteen Jews, escorted by Germans with dogs and local police. When I saw my friend in the column, I shouted “Anna” and she turned around. It was the last time I saw her. It happened on the Jewish Easter in 1942.” (Witness n°494, interviewed in Kletnya 1, on May 19, 2015)
“A large number of inhabitants were locked up in the enclosures, fenced in with barbed wire. While locked up, they were starving and subjected to different kinds of humiliations. After that, the majority of them were shot. The shooting took place at the dump situated between Kletnya and Akulichi, between the bridge over the Kletenka river and the Jewish cemetery; at the burnt college building situated on the way to [illegible].., behind the lake; and on the way to Kletnya-Lutna, before Lozovka and turning towards Pavlivka. During the winter of 1941-1942, it was forbidden to bury the bodies of victims who had been shot. Only in the spring, once the bodies had decomposed and the smell spread out, the Kletnya inhabitants could bury the rest of the bodies that had not been devoured by dogs and wolves.” [Act of Soviet Extraordinary Commission, drawn up on April 15, 1944, RG-22.002M.7021- 85/3]
Kletnya is situated about 70km northwest of Bryansk. On the eve of the war, 286 Jews (4.4% of the total population) lived in Kletnya. The majority of Jews were craftsmen or merchants. There was a synagogue, which existed till 1917 and transformed into a klub afterwards. German forces occupied the town on August 8, 1941. By that time, almost half of the Jewish population managed to flee in carts or by train.
Shortly after the Germans’ arrival, anti-Jewish measures were implemented. The Jews were registered, identified and forced to work. At the end of 1941, all the Kletnya Jews as well as those from the surrounding areas were confined to a closed ghetto. According to Alexey, witness n°495 interviewed by Yahad, the partisans’ families were confined in the same ghetto as the Jews. The ghetto was guarded by Russian police. It was liquidated in March 1942 by Sonderkommando 7a, who were helped by local police. Before being exterminated, the Jews were locked up in the barn on the edge of town for a few days. In all, 120 people were shot in the woods, including about 100 Jews, men, women, and children. Local inhabitants called this place ‘the meadow of death.’
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