2 Execution site(s)
Oleksandra G., born in 1923, an Auschwitz political prisoner: “I was arrested along with a friend of mine. A Ukrainian policeman saw us distributing the flyers. We were arrested and transported to the prison in Dnipropetrovsk [today Dnipro]. For two weeks we were subjected to the interrogations done by the SS. They didn’t hesitate to beat us to get the information they needed. Two weeks later along with 17 other people we were put in a cattle wagon and taken to Germany. First, we arrived to the Majdanek camp, where we stayed for about 6 days and then we were displaced to Auschwitz. On October 1, 1942, I arrived to Auschwitz. » (Witness n°2667U, interviewed in Koziatyn, on September 19, 2019)
“[…] Then, the Jews were taken by truck to about 100 meters from the pit and Oberleutnant Berents [Note: Behrens] ordered [the victims] to undress and ordered one person at a time toward the pit and when that person, now naked, approached the pit, the Gestapo man standing at the pit shot him with a submachine-gun. The person fell [into the pit] and in this way all [the Jews], except for 30 of them, were shot.
Question: Specify the role you and the rest of the policemen played during the shooting of the Soviet civilians.
Answer: The role played by all the policemen I have mentioned was as follows:
1) Guarding the Jews and preventing them from escaping. This is why when we arrived at the covered trucks in the camp and they knew already, though they had not been told that they were going to be shot, we were ordered to reinforce the guards.
2) After the truck was loaded, policemen accompanied it to the place where the shooting was carried out. I, Vlasenko, Chaykovskiy, Maksimchuk, Karniyuk, and all the others who had been guarding the camp went there. When I had accompanied the truck to the murder site, I was joined by the policemen Anton Plisak, Vasiliy Maksimchuk, and three German gendarmes. W hen we came close to the pit some of the Jews did not want to go to it. Then one of the gendarmes whose assignment was "to hurry them up," as it was called, took a long rod and with it struck the heads or the backs of those who lagged behind. On the way to the shooting site all the Jews begged to be spared and to be allowed to escape but their pleas went unheeded and no Jew escaped being shot […].” [From the report of the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) based on the interrogation of the former policeman Yosif Betlinskiy, made on January 7,1944: 7021-54-1341]
Koziatyn is a town in central Ukraine, located 75 kilometers (47 mi) north west of Vinnytsia. The village of Koziatyn was first mentioned in 1734. The first record about the Jewish community goes back to the mid-18th century. The town was founded at the time of the construction of the Kyiv-Baltic railway. With the development of the railroads, the number of Jews in the town increased significantly . In 1897 1,731 Jews lived in the town comprising 20% of the total population. Several pogroms were organized in 1905 and 1918. The Jewish houses and shops were looted. During the civil war (1917-20), the Jews suffered greatly at the hands of the various armies passing through the town. In 1926, the Jewish population reached 3,012 making up 20% of the total population. The community had a synagogue and several Yiddish schools. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handcraft. On the eve of the war only 16% of the population was Jewish.
Koziatyn was occupied by the Hungarian troops on July 14, 1941. Shortly after it was taken over by the German military administration, which in late October, was replaced by the German civil administration and remained under its authority until late December 1943. Before the occupation only 5% of the Jewish population managed to evacuate to the East. In late summer or early fall, a series of anti-Jewish measures were implemented: all the Jews were marked with yellow Stars of David, later changed for circles, and registered. They were forbidden to have any relations with the local non-Jewish population. The first executions were conducted during September 1941. On September 11, 1941, 1,255 Koziatyn Jews were taken to the nearby village of Komsomolske where they were shot. According to the Ukrainian historian, A. Kruglov, the action was conducted by a German Police Regiment “South”. The remaining Jews, mainly artisans and their families, were confined into the ghetto. The ghetto inmates were strictly forbidden to leave the ghetto and were forced to perform various types of hard labor. The ghetto was liquidated on June 3, 1942. On this day about 250 Jews, or 500 according to some reports of the Soviet archives, along with 16-20 Gypsies were first taken to a prisoner of war camp, located 1 km away; and the following day, they were all, with the exception for 10-30 skilled workers, taken to the village of Tylimonovka, 2 km away from Koziatyn. They were shot in a pit dug in the ravine in the area of the former shooting range, located between Tylimonovka village and the road leading from Koziatyn to the village of Sokilets. The pit was dug beforehand by the requisitioned locals. Prior to being shot one by one at the edge of the pit, the victims were forced to strip naked. The execution was conducted by an SD unit that arrived from Berdychiv for this purpose. During the next weeks about 200 Jews found in hiding in Koziatyn and nearby villages were arrested and taken to be shot at the same site, near the village of Tylimonovka. The remaining several dozen artisans, the locals and those brought from Samhorod, were shot in the fall of 1942, or according to the Soviet archives December 1942, at the same site. About 7,000 POWs died from hunger and inhumane conditions in the camp located in Koziatyn.
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