Krivichi (Krzywicze) | Minsk

The family of Yizhak Yaakov and Ethel Katzovitz in 1927 during a  visit by their daughter Ida with daughters Martha and Trudy. Everyone pictured, apart from Ida’s brother, Shaya, perished in the Holocaust. ©From Hinda, daughter of Rabbi Yehoshua Zut and the wife of the last  Rabbi of Krivichi, Rabbi Malkiel Perzi with their children, Yehoshua,Meir and Khaim Perzi. The entire family  perished in 1942. ©Taken from Shosha (Shoshana) (1909- 1942) daughter of  Shneior Zalman Alperovicz and Gnesia nee Katzovitz with her husband Nakhson, son of Rabbi Yehoshua Hacohen Zut.  Both perished in the Holocaust along with their 2 sons. ©Taken from Mina and Reuven Finger with their Students in Krivichi, 1924. ©Taken from / The surviving gravestones at the Jewish cemetery. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Galina Sh., born in 1931, saw the Jews being forced to undress. German soldiers then forced them into a barn located near her home and shot them. At the end of the shooting, the Germans set the barn on fire. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The Yahad team with Galina Sh., born in 1931, during the interview. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Konstantin T., born in 1927, remembers how the local police started massacring the Jews directly in their homes or in the streets and gardens as they tried to escape. He saw several bodies in the courtyard outside his house. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum A new residential house was built on the site of the house where the Jews were killed in with a grenade. There is no monument. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Jews shot in different locations in Krivichi were buried on the outskirts of the town in a mass grave next to the ancient Jewish cemetery. A trench shelter left over from the WWI was used as a pit. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The monument built in memory of the 350 Jews shot dead or burned alive in the barn on April 28, 1942. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The execution site of over 340 Jews in Krivichi. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Krivichi

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Barn in a field
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 350

Witness interview

Konstantin T., born in 1927: “The rest of the Jews, about two or three families, were gathered in two Jewish houses on Proletarskaya street and forced to do farming work. They weren’t guarded. Once, a cart carrying Germans passed by. They stopped and threw a grenade inside one of the buildings where the Jews were. Just beforehand they’d forced an old Jewish woman inside the house. Nobody in the house survived the explosion. One German entered the house to check for survivors, then they all left. I saw that from about 100-200 meters away. The Germans came from Vileyka; they wore light military uniforms. Only elderly Jews were at home at that moment, the others were all working. The bodies of the victims were buried in the Jewish cemetery. The rest of the Jews left the village after this incident. Only four or so of them came back after the war.” (Testimony n°906, interviewed in Krivichi, on May 23, 2016)

Soviet archives

“On April 20, 1942 the German Gestapo arrived from Vileyka and gathered the whole Jewish population of Krivichi in a barn. From there they were taken one by one to a place around 50m from the barn and forced to undress. Once 5 Jews were undressed, they were escorted back to the barn and shot by two German officers. In all, they shot 120 people. Later, when they were tired of shooting, they forced the remaining Jews, about 80 people, to enter to the barn and set it on fire. Sonia Davidova, 9 years old, tried to get out but she was thrown in the flames.

40 Jews managed to hide the day of the shooting but they were later discovered and gathered in a house, some of them were stabbed to death. Then a grenade was thrown in." [Act drawn up by the State Extraordinary Commission after the war; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 83, Delo 7]

Historical note

Krivichi is located about 109km north of Minsk, on the banks of the Servach River. In 1897, there were 457 Jews in the village. Due to the relocation of the Jewish population, this number dropped significantly. In 1921, there were only 178 Jews living in the village. During the 1920s, some Jewish organizations operated in the village. There was a two-storied synagogue located in the center of the village and a Jewish cemetery which still remains today. The Jews were religious and respected Shabbat. Jews spoke their own language at home, but at school they studied in Polish alongside with the other local children. On the eve of the war, there were about 400 Jews in Krivichi. The Germans occupied the village in early July 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Immediately after the German occupation a Judenrat and local police were created. All Jews were registered and marked with yellow patches in form of the Star of David. They were subjected to perform different kinds of forced labor. Initially, local Jews lived in their own homes and the synagogue remained open, but all commercial activity was halted.

The first anti-Jewish Aktion was carried out on April 28, 1942, by German units from Vileyka and Dolginovo, assisted by local police. The Jews were taken on foot to a site behind the old school where a large, unfinished threshing floor owned by a local resident and a barn were located. Thanks to a local eyewitness, Yahad was able to obtain more information on how the execution was conducted. According to the witness, the victims were forced to undress down to their underwear inside the log house. Then they were forced to run to the barn and shot once they reached the middle of it. The distance between the log house and the barn was about 25m. When the execution was over, the Germans locked the barn and left. Local people then rushed to site to search for clothes, while Jews who were only wounded tried to come out of the barn. 15 minutes later the Germans, returned in two, three or four trucks, loaded the clothes and belongings, and set the barn on fire. The Germans left bofore the barn had burned down. About 130 Jews were shot during this Aktion and over 80 were burned alive in the barn. Some skilled workers, along with their families, managed to avoid the shooting.

The rest of the Jews, about two or three families (up to 200 Jews, according other sources), were assembled in two Jewish houses on Proletarskaya street and forced to do farm work. They were not guarded. According to one witness, in September 1942, elderly Jews who were staying at home while the younger Jews worked were blown up with a grenade. The bodies of the victims were buried in the Jewish cemetery. Only four Jews returned to the village after the war. 

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