Belovshchina | Bryansk

Photo of the third anniversary of the Jewish Commune ’Unity’ © From the Alexander Paskov’s family archives, taken from http://www.centropa.org Moisei (Moisei-Girsh) Yakovlevich Paskov, was born on February 19th, 1906, with his classmates, taken in Starodub, 1924 © From the Alexander Paskov’s family archives, taken from http://www.centropa.org Yankel Girshevich Paskov, born in 1864, was murdered in Belovshchina during the first Aktion. In all, 16 members of the Paskov and Levitin family were killed. © From the Alexander Paskov’s family archives, taken from http://www.centropa.org German occupation. Hannah and Rakhil along with their families were murdered by the Germans near Starodub in 1942. © From the Alexander Paskov’s family archives, taken from http://www.centropa.org Zinovi Levitin, one of organiser of Jewish agricultural commune ’Unity’. Lived in Starodub, but moved to Crimea in spring 1934 when the commune was relocated. © From the Alexander Paskov’s family archives, taken from http://www.centropa.org / Local ambiance of a village, Belovshchina, Russia © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum The former building of the synagogue in Starodub © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum The former building of the Kommandantur, Starodub. © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum The location of the former ghetto, which was composed of 11 houses situated close to one another. The houses don’t exist anymore.  © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum Mikhail I., born in 1929, remembered that men, from 14 years old and up, were the first to be executed. They were shot, naked, on the edge of the grave. © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Maria D., born in 1924, was one of the Russians who was resettled with her family in another village because their house was occupied by Jews once the ghetto was created. There were 75 Jews living in her house. © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Adelaida P., born in 1929, remembered that Jewish women and children were locked up in the barn three days before the execution. During this time, they could not go out. They were guarded by local police. © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Local resident indicating the location of a barn where Jewish women and children were confined. The barn doesn’t exist today © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Adelaida S. leading Yahad’s team to the killing site of 800 Jewish women and children, murdered during the second Aktion in March 1942 © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum The execution site of about 400 men and young boys murdered during the first Aktion in October 1941. The two big oaks are the only memory keepers of that massacre © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum The monument to the Starodub Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. The monument is situated in the forest, a little bit farther away from the first killing site  © David Merlin-Dufey- Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of the Starodub Jews in Belovshchina

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943

Witness interview

Maria D., born in 1924, remembered: “The Jewish men were shot separately from the women and children. They were shot the next day or two days after the Jews moved into the camp. I don’t remember exactly. They were shot in the ditch that had been dug on purpose.
YIU: Did the Jews dig the pit themselves?
W: I don’t think so, but I can’t tell you exactly.
YIU: How were they taken to the killing site?
W: They were brought on foot.
YIU: Did they have their belongings with them?
W: No, they didn’t.
YIU: Was the pit where they were shot big?
W: Yes, it was very big. I will show you it afterwards if you want. While I was working in the field, I saw the column of Jews being brought to the killing site.” (Witness n°113, interviewed in Starodub, on October 31, 2010)

Soviet archives

“For two days, they took 1,410 people (men, women and children) to the camp created especially for them in the vicinity of Starodub, in Belovshchina. All of these people were placed in a cowshed. At the end of September, the Gestapo selected all the men who were older than 14, there were 400 of them, and took them near Starodub to be shot at the place called “Gniloye Logove” [Rotten swamps] close to Volchaya Gora [Wolf’s hill].” [Act of Soviet Extraordinary commission; RG-22.002M/7021-19/3]

Historical note

Belovshchina is located 5 km from Starodub, which is located 140 km northwest of Bryansk. Today this village is a part of Starodub. Before the war, 1,639 Jews lived in Belovschina (13% of the town’s population). The majority of Jews lived as artisans. There was a Jewish kolkhoz, a vocational school for men and women and a Talmud Torah school. The town was occupied by German forces on August 18, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From September 1941, about 1,400 remaining Jews were confined to a ghetto situated in the sovkhoz, known as “Belovshchina.”  According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the Jews who were locked up in Russian houses had been expelled from their homes and were forced to move to Starodub. The territory was fenced in with barbed wire. The men and young boys were separated from the women and girls immediately after the Jews moved into the ghetto. The ghetto inmates were exterminated during two big Aktions that took place in October 1941 and in March 1942, carried out by the Sonderkommando 7a. During the first execution, about 400 men and young boys were murdered. During the second execution, about 800 women and children were murdered by Nazis in a forest on the outskirts of Belovshchina. Moreover, about 155 Jews died in the ghetto due to the harsh winter and terrible living conditions. 

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