1 Execution site(s)
Kostyantyn I., born in 1926, recalls: "The ghetto was created. One part of the village was surrounded with a fence with several ranges of barbed wire over it. The ghetto was composed of several streets. It was guarded by policemen who watched to make sure that the Jews did not escape. Even if any contact with local population was forbidden, the Jews tried to barter and exchange the things for any food. When I passed by the main road, I could see some people bartering."(Testimony n°1429, interviewed in Derazhne, on April 12th, 2012).
“In the fall of 1943, the head of the rural administration came into my house and told me that under the order of the Kommandant K., I had to take a shovel with an axe and go to the Bechal forest to dig the pit. I wasn’t told what we would dig the pit for. Once in the forest, I saw other men with shovels. We were ordered to dig a pit of 6-7m long, 4-5m wide and 2m deep. At one moment, when I got out of the pit and sat on the ground, I saw a group of about 70-80 Jews being brought from Derazhne by Schutzmann. The Kommandant K. was at the end of the column. The Jews were ordered to disrobe completely. After, in small groups they were forced to get inside the pit where they were shot. There were men, women and children among them. This group of Jews stayed in hiding after the other 1,900 Jews from Derazhne had been taken to Kostopil where they were shot, but at the end they were caught. " [Deposition of Petro P., born in 1904, a requisitioned local resident, made in November 1944, RG-22.002M: Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 47]
Derazhne is located 38 km northwest of Rivne. The first records of the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century. In 1765, 239 Jews lived in the village. By 1897 the Jewish population grew up to 770 Jews and represented half of the total population. Due to relocation of Jews in the 1920s, the population dropped and in 1921 only 592 Jews remained in the village. According to the witness, there were two synagogues in Derazhne, which do not exist anymore, a Jewish cemetery and a Jewish school. The majority of Jews lived off small business and handcraft. There was a union of small-scale merchants and a union of tradesmen in Derazhne itself. In 1939, the village was taken over by Soviets as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. From September 1939, the Jewish school and other working institutions were closed. The village was occupied by Germans on June 28, 1941.
For the first three months after the Germans’ arrival, the Jews continued to live in their houses; however they were all marked with yellow Stars of David. They were subjected to lootings, abuses, and were also forced to perform different kinds of forced labor. The Ukrainian police and Jewish council were established. However, on October 5, 1941, a ghetto was created and existed for almost a year. It numbered about 1,000 Jews from Derazhne and nearby villages. The ghetto was surrounded by fence and barbed wire. According to the local witnesses, the ghetto was composed of several streets with houses in a form of letter “L”. It was guarded by local policemen. In May 1942, the Jewish men fit to work were moved to the labor camp outside of Derazhne. They were most likely shot afterwards. On August 24, 1942, during the liquidation of the ghetto, about 1,900 Jews native to Derazhne and Osova Vyshka were taken to Korshivya, close to Kostopil, where they were shot. The Aktion was conducted by the German gendarmerie and was assisted by the local police. After this major Aktion, about a hundred Jews stayed in hiding. Shortly after, in the fall 1942, about 70 to 80 escapees (152 according to other sources) were found and shot in the forest 3-4km away from Derazhne.
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