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1 Execution site(s)
Alexandra V. evokes: "The mortality rate [in the camp] was very high. The police threw the bodies into the swamps, a bulldozer pushed the bodies inside. There was a very high number of deaths, one had to get rid of dead bodies every day." (Witness N°80, interviwed in Bryansk, on October 22, 2010).
"Once they arrived in the city of Bryansk and its district, the German military command started ordering mass arrests and exterminating the civilian inhabitants: women, children, the elderly. From September 18-25, 1943, the Bryansk municipal commission (...) opened mass graves, discovered on the hillside of the "Verkhni Sudok" ravine, containing the bodies of civilians who were shot as well as those who died due to poor treatment. One of [the mass graves] measured 9m in length, 7m in width and 2-4m in depth and contained 3,500 bodies. In the vicinity of the village of Bryansk II, to the right of Bryansk-Karachev, in front of the Medical estate [Bolnichny Gorodok, trn , on the territory of Probnoye Pole, 2km away from the road leading from the Medical estate to the woods, 769 bodies of the elderly, women, and children were found. All the bodies were completely naked. The people had been shot in the nape of the neck. The shooting took place just before the arrival of the Red Army, in the last days of August to the beginning of September 1943. In the other opened mass graves, situated west of the first one, on the sand mound, other decomposed bodies (people who were executed in 1941-1942) were discovered. In all, 14 mass graves of about 7 500 people, including the elderly, women and children, were discovered at this site. The majority of them were Jews but there were also Gypsy victims. [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, made on 18-28 September, 1943; RG-22.002M/7021-19/8]
Bryansk is located 385 km southwest away from Moscow. The town had a Jewish cemetery with a burial society, Mikvah, a Talmud Torah, several Yiddish schools and a synagogue. According to the witness n°498, in 1928, as a result of the anti-religious movement, the synagogue was closed and transformed into a Klub and a Jewish butchery was closed. The majority of Jews was craftsmen, like cobblers and tailors, or worked in trade. There was little fabric. Prior to the war, about 5.102 Jews lived in Bryansk, which represented about 6% of the total population. The Germans occupied the city on October 6, 1941. By this time, a lot of refugees had arrived in the city and many Jews were evacuated or were enrolled in the Red Army.
According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad as well as the archives, prisoner of war camp was created in autumn 1941 as there were approximately 80.000 Soviet soldiers who were taken as prisoners of war during the attack. Half of them died due to hunger and harsh living conditions. In addition to POWs, there were also civilians in the camp, including women and children. The first Aktion took place in August 1942, when 3.500 prisoners of the camp, Jews among them, were executed in the “Verkniy Sudok” ravine. In the period from October 1941 until September 1943, 7.500 people, children, women and the elderly among them, were executed in 14 mass graves on the territory of “Probnoye Pole”, near the village of Bryansk II. The last execution, during which 769 victims were killed, took place before the Germans’ retreat, in late August or in early September 1943. The majority of the victims were Jews but there were also Gypsies among them.
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