1 Execution site(s)
Maria L., born in 1929: “ I went to the school with my friend and saw that the Jews were not there anymore. There were lots of belongings and clothes strewn all over the road. We followed it and came across some Germans who said "Juden kaput!" They were laughing. There were skulls on their military caps. We went to the execution site, which was in an anti-tank ditch. The pit was not completely filled. There were bodies arranged all along the trench. I even saw the body of one of my school friends. It was very sad.” (Witness N°810, interviewed in Buda-Kochelevo on June 19, 2014).
Buda-Kochelyovo is a small city situated 50km northwest of Gomel. According to the 1939 census, there were 496 Jews living in the city, making up nearly 15 percent of the total population. The city was known for its Jewish kolkhoze, and about 50 Jewish families worked there. There was also a synagogue. Before the German occupation in the middle of August 1941, many refugees from western Belarus came to settle in the city.
On October 26, 1941, the Germans established a ghetto. All Jews had to move into the school building. They were not fed, so they had to find a way to survive on their own. They were also regularly humiliated by local policemen.
On December 27, 1941, high ranking policemen from Gomel came to the school. The police separated the men from the women. The Jews were searched and all their belongings, including their clothing, were confiscated. The men were gathered in a room, the windows were shut up in an attempt to suffocate them.
On December 28, 1941, the policemen lined up the Jews in a column and led them to an anti-tank ditch between the town and the village of Krasnyi Kurgan behind the Machine Tractor Station (MTS). The Jews were forced to undress. The men were shot at first, after being forced to lie face-down in the pit. They were shot by the Germans, in groups, with a single shot to the head. The following victims were shot lying down on top of the bodies of the first group.
The women, the elderly, and children were shot next. That day, 483 people were murdered. The bodies in the pit were covered with snow. In the spring, local villagers covered them with soil.
After the extermination of the Jews, the Jews’ personal belongings were sold in a store in the town.
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