Zahaitsi (Zagaitsi) | Ternopil

/ Iaroslav C., born in 1931, gave our team key information to better understand how the Pidhaitsi ghetto was organized, as well as how the mass shootings in Stare Misto and Zahaitsi were conducted. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Ivanna B., born in 1930: "A Jewish girl of about 4 years old walked away from the pit and started picking poppies. As soon as one of the Germans saw it, he killed her."©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Orysia K., born in 1931: " Once the Germans returned in the direction of Pidhaitsi, I saw two naked people coming out of the ravine and hiding in the wheat field."      ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team during an interview. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The execution site on a hill northeast of Zahaitsi. On June 8, 1943, between 700 and 2,000 Jews from the Pidhaitsi ghetto were taken to this location and shot by German security forces.©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Drone view at the execution site in Zahaitsi, a former stone quarry. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Iaroslav C., born in 1931, giving his testimony. He was an eyewitness to the shooting of Jews from Pidhaitsi in Zahaitsi.  ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The site near the pit where all the Jews waited for their turn to be killed. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The location of the pond from which Iaroslav watched the execution of Jews in Zahaitsi. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team leader Olha Kulbachna with a witness retracing the topography of the crime. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The crossroads where the carts parked after the Jews got off to walk to the execution site at Zahaitsi. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of the Pidhaitsi Jews in Zahaitsi

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Stone quarry
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 700 and 2,000

Witness interview

Markian M., born in 1930: “In June-July 1943, the ghetto was liquidated. I saw a column of about 2,000 Jews, men, women, and children, passing by the main road from my house. The column came from the ghetto. My mother and I went outside and followed it. Many other town residents saw the column pass by. The Jews were convoyed by Ukrainian and German policemen standing on both sides of the column. The Jews didn’t have any belongings with them, but they did have some dollar bills that they were ripping up on the way. When the column turned down a side street, the Jews noticed us and started to run towards me and my mother. While hiding with my mother behind a house, we heard gunshots. Ten minutes later, when the shots stopped, I went out and saw 100 bodies of men and women on the crossroad.” (Witness n°2539U, interviewed in Pidhaitsi, on December 3, 2019)

Soviet archives

"[...] On October 31, 1942, about 20 Gestapo soldiers, led by the German deputy Gestapo chief G*** and Gestapo chief M*** arrived from Ternopil in the ghetto of the town of Podgaitsy. About 60 Polish Volksdeutsche arrived with the Germans. They took about 3,000 Jews from the ghetto and brought them to the Podgaitsy train station. My parents and I were also taken that day, but I escaped. Other Jews also managed to escape on the way and later told me that this entire convoy of Jews was taken to Lublin and killed there. A similar Aktion had already taken place on September 28 and 29, 1942, when almost 2,000 Jews from the Podgaitsy ghetto were transported to Lublin and killed with electricity. The Jews were not allowed to bring anything with them, not even food. When they asked for food, they were killed. [...] In 1943, the Podgaitsy ghetto was liquidated. On June 6, 1943, about 2000 Jews from the ghetto were brought 500 meters north of the village of Stare Misto and killed. The babies were thrown alive into the pit. [Later, on 8 June 1943, about 2000 Jews from the ghetto were taken outside the village Zagaitsy and killed in the same way. The remaining Jews were killed during the liquidation of the ghetto and buried in the Jewish cemetery in Podgaity." [Deposition of a Jewish survivor Rosa P., given to the State Soviet Extraordinary Commission on October 18, 1944; GARF 7021-75-10; p.23-25]

Historical note

Zahaitsi is a village located 45 km (28 miles) southwest of Ternopil, in Western Ukraine. Prior to the war the village was home to Ukrainians and Poles. The majority of Jews lived in the nearby city of Pidhaitsi, located 1.5 km (1mi) away. The first traces of a Jewish community in Pidhaitsi date back to the 15th century. It was very prosperous, especially in the 19th century, thanks to favorable economic policies of the local government. Many important trade fairs were organized in Pidhaitsi. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 3,000 Jews lived in the city. During the interwar period, the area was integrated into Polish territory. In September 1939, the city was integrated into the USSR under the terms of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. On the eve of the war, out of 7,000 people living in Pidhaitsi, 3,200 of whom were Jews.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Zahaitsi was occupied by the Wehrmacht on July 4, 1941. As soon as the occupation began, the German authorities created local Ukrainian auxiliary police in Pidhaitsi. They also established a Jewish council and a Jewish police force of about ten people. In the autumn of 1941, the Jews from Pidhaitsi and nearby villages, such as Stare Misto, Zahaitsi, and others, were first removed from their homes and relocated to the city center in small houses. In early 1942, this area was fenced off with barbed wire and turned into a ghetto. Between 4,000 and 6,000 Jews were confined there. In the summer of 1943, the liquidation of the Pidhaitsi ghetto began. On June 6 and 8, two mass shootings took place in the nearby villages of Stare Misto and Zahaitsi. In both cases, the Jews thought they were to be relocated, to the Ternopil ghetto, for example, and so had taken their belongings with them. The German authorities requisitioned residents and their carts to help transport the Jews to the two shooting sites. In Zahaitsi, the execution took place on June 6, 1943. That day, according to the Soviet archives, between 700 and 2,000 Jews, were taken to the stone quarry, where they were first ordered to undress, and then shot in small groups while standing on the plank that had been placed across the pit.

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