1 Execution site(s)
Aleksandra S., born in 1927: “I saw three open trucks with people in them go by. My parents told me they were Jews. There were old people and children in it. The trucks were completely full, people were cramped. I also saw a column of POWs walking somewhere with policemen guarding the line. They had sticks and when my mom tried to give the prisoners some milk and eggs, one policeman slapped her hand away. The prisoners were all men, and none of them tried to flee, they were so tired.” (Witness YIU/271R, interviewed in Kurganinsk, on April 3, 2012)
“After the liberation of the village of Kurgannaya and of Krasnodar region by the Red Army, four mass graves were opened following the villagers’ testimonies and information: one was located in the north of the village, in the gendarmerie and police courtyard. There, seven bodies were discovered which were disfigured to the point that identification was impossible. The bodies showed marks of bullet and stab wounds, some body parts had been burnt, breasts, lips and ears had been cut off, they wore only their underwear.
The second and third graves were located south-west of the village, behind the railway close to the mound which is 750-800 meters away from the village. The graves were 8m long, 2m large and 1,5m deep. Both graves were full of bodies.
The fourth grave was located west of the village of Mikhailovskaya, Kurgannaya district, south of the second section of sovkhoz Stalin; it was 1m long, 2,5m large and 2m deep, and was full up to the top with bodies.
Bodies of children, women, teenagers and men were found in graves 2, 3 and 4. It was difficult to identify the bodies as they were so disfigured. Bullet wounds, broken bones and bruises could be seen. The majority of bodies were naked and when they were dressed, they only wore torn and bloodied underwear.
The Commission counted 720 people in total killed by the Gestapo in these graves.” [Act drawn up on March 15, 1943; GARF 7021-16-463, p.16]
Kurganinsk, formerly Kurgannaya, is a village in the Krasnodar region, southwest Russia. It is located 160 km (100mi) east of Krasnodar. It is a former Cossack village founded in 1853. It was renamed Kurganinsk in 1961. Because the village was outside the Pale of Settlement at the time of the Russian Empire, no Jewish community settled in Kurganinsk. As the war started between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in June 1941, many Jews fled eastwards and sought refuge in the Krasnodar region and in Kurganinsk.
The Germans took over Kurganinsk on August 6, 1942. They first air-bombed the town, as one witness remembered, aiming for the military warehouses located in town. Then they drove into the town in trucks and cars, settled in some of the villagers’ houses, set up a radio station and took over two large buildings later used by the NKVD on Rosa Luxemburg Street. They imprisoned POWs (partisans and communists mostly, with their families), Cossacks, Jews, and some Roma people there. The Jews and Roma never left the buildings where they were imprisoned until the day of the execution, but the POWs were forced to work for the Germans. They worked on road and railway construction, and were also forced to dig the mass graves. They were digging every day for about a month and worked 10 hours a day, recalls a witness interviewed by Yahad - In Unum. Some people working in the sovkhoz where also ordered by their starost to dig these pits. The villagers were sometimes allowed to bring food to the prisoners while they were working, but they were also often chased away by the Germans for doing so. The Jews and Roma people did not receive any food in prison. Once the graves had been dug, the shootings could start. They lasted four or five days. The majority of POWs were shot during the first two days and dumped in two mass graves next to each other. The graves were not immediately filled in, so that the Jews and Roma people could be put there too. Over the following days, they were subsequently led to the graves to be shot. They were so weak that they were transported there in ox-drawn carts and directly thrown into the graves. Once they were all in the graves, the Germans shot them. Some of the Jews were taken by trucks from the prison to another mass grave near the village of Mikhailovskaya, on the premises of the sovkhoz “Stalin”. A few people were also killed in the courtyard of the building where they were imprisoned. Finally, the rest of the POWs were killed last so that they could work during the previous executions by throwing the bodies in the graves and then closing them. The graves were guarded for some time after the executions to prevent anyone from reburying the bodies elsewhere. According to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission who opened up the graves and investigated the events, around 700 people were killed by the Nazis in Kurganinsk in 1942.
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