1 Execution site(s)
Porfiriy Y., born in 1930: “Y. U.: Did you see the Jews gathering in the square or did you see them when they were already getting into the trucks?
Witness: We saw it all from the beginning. We saw them being assembled, then we saw the women and children leaving. Then the trucks arrived. The only Jewish man who survived was the blacksmith. He stayed alive until the Germans left. When they left, they shot him too.
Y. U. Were the Jews rounded up the year the Germans arrived or the year after?
Witness: It was the year the Germans arrived, 1941.
Y. U.: Were there a lot of trucks?
Witness: I couldn’t tell you exactly, maybe about ten.
Y. U. U.: Were they open trucks or covered trucks?
Witness: Covered trucks.
Y. U. Who told them to get on the trucks? Germans or Polizei?
Witness: Both of them.
Y. U. Witness: Were there guards in the trucks with the Jews?
Witness: No, there were no guards, they didn’t go very far. The pit was about one or two kilometers away from the square.” (Witness n°860, interviewed in Stara Syniava, on January 9, 2010)
“We, the undersigned [members of the] commission for examining the graves where Soviet civilians were brutally murdered by the German occupiers are buried, after hearing from local witnesses, established the following: about 400-500 meters north of the sugar refinery in a big pit where there was an unfinished bunker, on August 19, 1941, the Germans brutally killed and buried 300 civilians. During the shootings abuse [of the victims] took place. There were cases when the victims were covered with earth while still alive, for example, Itsko Rutberg, a resident of the town of Staraya Sinyava, was buried alive. The local residents O***, G**, and N***, who worked at the sugar refinery, testified about these atrocities.” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on July 17, 1944; GARF 7021-64/816]
Stara Syniava is located 63 km (39mi) east north of Khmelnytskyi, today Proskuriv. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the 16th century. Although almost all of them were murdered or fled to other localities in 1648. Nevertheless, the community was rebuilt and by 1897 it numbered 2,279 Jews, representing almost the half of the local population. The Jews lived off small scale trade or handicraft. Many Jews relocated to bigger towns due to insecurity following the pogroms carried out in the region during the Civil War (1918-1920). Under Soviet rule, during the 1930s a Jewish council was created. On the eve of the war, in 1939, only 1,237 Jews lived in the town making up 28% of the town’s total population.
Stara Syniava was occupied by the Germans on July 14, 1941. The first mass execution was conducted one month later. On August 19, 1941, all the Jews were gathered at the main square of the town and a selection was made. Between 300 and 500 Jews, according to different historical sources, were forced into trucks and taken to be shot in an unfinished bunker located 500m away from the sugar factory. The mass operation was carried out by Einsatzgruppe C. The remaining Jews were released and shortly after confined into a ghetto. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by local police. The Jewish inmates were forbidden to leave its territory unless they had a special authorization for work. According to a Soviet ChGK document, 180 Jews were murdered in the ghetto. Their bodies were supposedly thrown into a well, but none of the local witnesses heard about that or witnesses it. In the summer 1942, the inmates from the Stara Syniava ghetto were transferred to Starokostyantyniv where they were later murdered. Another 80 Jews who had been caught in hiding were shot to death outside the town in the summer of 1943. Alongside the Jews, local Roma, or gypsies, were also persecuted in Stara Syniava.
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