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1 Execution site(s)
Vasiliy B., born in 1927, remembers : «Before the Germans’ arrival, the Jews who worked in the kolkhoz were able to evacuate thanks to their horses. But they were the minority and most of our neighbors had to stay. The other Jews were gathered with Gypsies in the city hall for a while, before being shot. » (Witness N°791, interviewed in Chechersk, on June 13, 2014).
Chechersk is a small city situated about 60 kilometers north of Gomel on the Sozh River. According to a census made in 1939, there were 977 Jews in the town, representing 18,2% of the total population. It was a district center and still is today. The Jews earned their living from small trade, agriculture and various handicrafts. Nearly half of the Jewish population managed to leave before the German army’s arrival in Chechersk in the middle of August 1941.
In October 1941, the Germans established a ghetto. According to historical sources, they locked them up in the town hall and in nearby houses. They were guarded. But according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Yahad, the Jews were not guarded. The Jews had to perform forced labor, like cleaning the streets. The ghetto in Chechersk was functioning for about three months. There were about four hundred inmates, including Gypsies.
During the first Aktion, which took place at the end of November 1941, the Germans, helped by their local collaborators, executed 84 elderly men and women in an antitank ditch outside of Chechersk, near the road of Krasnyi Bereg. The second Aktion was conducted in late December 1941, at the same location. To terrorize the local population, the Germans forced them to act as witnesses to the humiliation of the Jews before their execution. This incident occurred when they were gathered before leaving for the shooting place.To celebrate the liquidation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators organized a banquet at police headquarters after the mass killings.
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