1 Execution site(s)
Leonid K., born in 1931: “The shooting took place in a pine forest near the road from Gomel to Moscow. The communists were shot first. They arrived in trucks. There were only men, and my father was among them. They were shot one by one at the edge of a pit that had been dug by Jews around a week earlier. They were allowed to say something before being shot, so my father said that he was happy to have dedicated 34 years of his life to the struggle against fascism. The Jews then arrived in a column on foot. They stood in groups at the edge of the pit before being shot. There were many Germans there that day." (Eyewitness N°803, interviewed in Dobrush on June 17th 2014).
Dobrush is a small city located about 25km east of Gomel. It was, and is still today, a district center. In 1926, there were 372 Jewish residents living in Dobrush out of a total population of 13,800. Before the German occupation in late August 1941, two thirds of the Jewish population was able to escape from the town.
At the end of October 1941, under the pretext of deportation, the Jews were confined south of the city in 2 buildings of the Machine Tractor Building Station (MTS). The Jews were subjected to forced labor, such as cleaning the streets, under the supervision of the local police or the Germans.
On November 20th 1941, the Jews were forced to dig a pit in a pine forest, close to the MTS. The liquidation of the Jews was scheduled to take place at the same time as the execution of 19 recently arrested Soviet activists.
On the morning of November 21st, the activists and the Jews were taken in a column to the execution site. The Aktion was carried out by officers of Einsatzkommando 8 from Gomel, assisted by local policemen. According to eyewitnesses interviewed by Yahad, the policemen formed a cordon around the victims in order to prevent any escape. The activists were shot first, one by one. The Jews were killed next in small groups on the edge of the pit. It was said that the German murderers killed the children using a knife and threw them into the pit alive. In all, 106 Jews were killed during this mass execution.
After the mass shooting, the most valuable of the victims’ belongings were confiscated by the Germans and local policemen, or sold or distributed to local inhabitants.
During the spring of 1942, another Aktion took place, during which about 70 Jews were killed, who had supposedly been in hiding. They were kept in 3 houses outside of the city before being shot.
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