3 Execution site(s)
Natalia Ch., born in 1929: “They [the Jews] were brought from Chernitvtsi to Sokolivka They were on foot and were quartered in a cow shed in the center of the village. Nobody was killing them. They were very hungry. Every once in a while, somebody would have pity on them at night, because everybody was afraid, or someone would break a window and throw food to them. They would throw whatever they had: pumpkin, beets, bread. The Jews would share it among themselves. They spent about a week there. It was still warm. We were told they were from Chernivtsi. There were a lot of them there, maybe 500. There were young and old ones among them. And they were very wealthy Jews with money. That’s what the people said. As they were passing by us they would ask us where the city of Bug was. […] They say they were from Chernivtsi and they kept on asking where the city of Bug was. But Bug is a river, not a city. […] I remember as they passed just in front of us, my mother and I, we were standing, and they were asking: “Where is the city of Bug? Do we still have a long way ahead of us?” We knew what would happen to them. Nobody said anything to them. They said they would all be drown there. Is it so or not, I cannot tell you that.” (Witness n°2780U, interviewed in Zhabokrych, on September 11, 2020)
“In July 1941, German troops came to our village of Zhabokrich. On the third day, Romanian troops of the field gendarmerie arrived with yellow armbands; they constituted a punitive squad. The days following their arrival, i.e. on July 27, 28, and 29, 1941, [this] punitive squad carried out the mass shooting of the [local] Jewish population. Women, children, and elderly people were forced into cellars and shot there with machine-gun, submachine gun, and rifle-fire. At that time a total of 435 members of the Jewish population and 14 Red Army prisoners of war were shot.
My wife and I were in a cellar. My wife was killed by Romanian gendarmes on the second day of the mass shooting. After the shooting the bodies remained in the cellars and on the streets for about a month. No one was allowed to remove them; they were covered over with lime.” [Deposition of a Jewish survivor, David Zekhter, born in 1870 in Zhabokrych, living in Kryzhopil given to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) in April 1945; GARF 7021-54-1265, pp.40-41]
Zhabokrych, first mentioned in 1559, is located 120km (73,5mi) southeast of Vinnytsia. The first record of the Jewish community goes back to the mid-18th century. By 1790, about 55 Jews lived in the village. According to the 1897 census, 21% of the population was Jewish, as 1,307 Jews lived here. The railway construction in the nearby town of Kryzhopil contributed greatly to the development of the area and rise of the Jewish population. From 1853 the community had a wooden synagogue and at the beginning of the 20th century there were already three synagogues. The majority of Jews made their lives from small-scale trade. All the inns and small industries, such as the distillery, steam mills and timber yards, were owned by the Jews. Some were artisans, such as tailors, carpenters, and shoemakers. In 1917 and 1919, the Jewish community suffered from pogroms, which left dozens of victims killed. As a result of the pogroms, many Jews left the town looking for better lives and economic stability. Under Soviet rule, private businesses were banned. A Jewish collective farm ‘Lenin’s way’ was created in the 1920s. Both Jews and Ukrainians work there. Many Jewish children went to the Ukrainian school. In 1926, only 15% of the local population was Jewish.
Zhabokrych was occupied by German and Romanian forces on July 20, 1941. Those Jews who didn’t manage to evacuate or weren’t drafted to the Army were murdered in July 1941, in the course of several shootings. From 10 to 15 Jews and 14 Soviet prisoners of war were selected and murdered in the cellar of the collective farm, located outside the village during the first days of the occupation. By the end of July, about 350 remaining Jews, children and elder people among them, were shot in the different cellars located in the town. According to the Soviet archives, the shootings were conducted by Romanian Field gendarmery. It was forbidden to touch the corpses that remained on the ground for about a week. Then the bodies were gathered and buried at three different mass graves, all of them have memorials.
From September 1941, Zhaborkych was taken over by the Romanians and became part of the administrative region of Transnistria. Shortly after, an open transit ghetto was established in the cowsheds. About 245 Jews deported from Bukovina and Bessarabia in late fall 1941 were brought here for a couple of days before being taken in the direction of Obodivka.
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