1 Execution site(s)
Maria T., born in 1914: “A big pit had been dug in advance by requisitioned locals. It was dug the day before the execution. They were just told to dig a pit without any explanation on what it was for. It was 10m long, 4m large and was very deep. Before being shot, the Jews were forced to undress. Their clothes were searched as well, because they were looking for the hidden gold and other valuables. At the end of the execution, the clothes were taken away. The best ones were taken by the Germans and local police, but they left all the rags. Some local people would go and take because they were poor and had nothing to wear. They were terrible times.” (Witness n°695U, interviewed in Vinkivtsi, on August 22, 2008)
“In the summer of 1942, I actively participated in the shooting of about 1,000 Soviet civilians in the town of Vinkovtsy, where I went together with a group of policemen from Dunayevtsy. My participation consisted of being part of the cordon guarding the town of Vinkovtsy, when the Jews had been collected in one place so they couldn’t escape. Then I took this column under guard to the shooting site, and also guarded them so that they also couldn’t escape from near the pit where the shooting was carried out”. [Deposition of a former member of Ukrainian auxiliary police, Aleksander O***, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on May 30, 1944; GARF 7021-64-798]
Vinkivtsi is a small town located 53 km (33mi) north east of Khmelnytskyi. Previously kown as Zatonskoye. The first record of the Jews dates back to the first half of the 18th century. By 1897, the community numbered 1,768 individuals, making up 56% of the total population. The majority of Jews were merchants and artisans. In the 1930s two Jewish kolkhozes were created. In the 1920s a Yiddish school operated in the village; it was opened until the 1930s. On the eve of the war, about 40% of the population was Jewish.
Vinkivtsi was occupied by the Germans on July 11, 1941. Only a small percentage of Jews managed to evacuate before the Germans’ arrival. Shortly after the occupation, the entire Jewish community was registered and marked with yellow distinguishing badges. The ghetto was created in late August or early September 1941. It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by local police. Jews were also enrolled in different forced labor programs, such as cleaning, or working on the roads and railroads.
The first mass shooting was conducted on May 9, 1942, when 450 Jews from Vinkivtsi were shot to death at a ravine near the village of Stanislavivka, 10 km away. According to testimonies recorded by Yahad – In Unum, small children were taken to the execution site on carts. Anyone who couldn’t walk, and people that were sick, were shot to death on the way to the murder site. Upon their arrival, the victims were forced to take off their clothes, taken by force in groups of 4-5 to the ravine’s edge and shot. The Jews from Zinkiv were shot along with the Vinkivtsi Jews. A group of skilled artisans that was initially selected for the shooting was supposedly released.
The next mass Aktion was conducted in the summer of 1942 in a field outside the town. The Jews were rounded up from their homes and assembled at the town square by the local police. Once everyone was there, they were taken to the pits dug in the field located outside the town. Upon their arrival, they were forced to undress and shot. On August 6, 1942, an SD murder squad arrived from Kamianets-Podilskiy and shot the remaining Jews who were still living in the ghetto.
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