Chernovshchina | Gomel

/ Ambiance in Chernovshchina © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Praskovia S. remembers that she saw the mass grave near the bridge in Chernovshchina the day after the shooting. She remembers seeing a lot of blood.    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Nina K. said, “Before being shot, Pinia and Khasia held hands.”    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Witness interview on the mass shooting site of Pinia’s family    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum The site in Chernovshchina where Pinia and his wife were shot    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum The location near the bridge where the rest of Chernovshchina’s Jews were shot    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Chernovshchina

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Ground near the river / Garden
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims :
23

Witness interview

Nina K., born in 1935, remembers : “Y. U. : Did Jewish families also work in the kolkhoze ?
Witness : Yes. Pinia was a well-respected blacksmith, Leiba was a miller, his family also made oil and had a machine for carding wool. As far as Guersh, is concerned, he worked in a kolkhoz as a cashier. They all worked.
The Pinia’s family name is inscribed on the monument. Guersh had a wife, Esther and a son whose name I forget, he lived in Leningrad with his wife and his daughter Zoia. This Zoia often came for vacation and her grandparents’, we were good friends. My mother took care of Guersh vegetable garden; they were pretty well-off. When Zoia’s parents brought her here for vacation, she only played with me. When I had to go graze the pigs and I couldn’t play with her, she always asked her grandparents why I hadn’t come. So her grandmother brought her to our house and my mother told her “Go back to your home, the pigs are squeaking, we need to take them to pasture.” As for Leiba, he had a girl, Nina.I didn’t often go to their home, I always played with Zoïa, Guersh’s grand-daughter. She was a nice girl. When I think about that again, I get tears in my eyes. (Witness N°867, interviewed in Chernovshchina, on September 28, 2014).

Soviet archives

“In December 1941, the policemen carried out a mass shooting of perfectly innocent Soviet citizens. Upon their arrival in the village, the policemen left the village, gathered 21 people, residents of the village of Chernovshchina. They brought them by the road in the direction of the village of Yurovichi, and shot them behind the bridge. Among those shot was Guirch P. Fainberg, born in 1875, E. Fainberg, born in 1874, Boris Leybovich Shwartz, been born in 1938. Their properties were plundered and taken by the policemen.” [Act of The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG-22.002M.7021-91-15]

Historical note

Chernovshchina is a very small village, composed of a few houses, situated 25 km southeast of Mozyr. 3 Jewish families lived in the village before the war. There was Leba’s family who worked at the mill. Gersha’s family worked in the kolkhoze. And Pinia’s family worked as blacksmiths. The village was occupied by German forces during the summer  of 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

According to local testimonies recorded by Yahad, we were able to reconstruct the fate of the local Jews. Before the arrival of the Germans, the Jews of the village wanted to escape, but they eventually gave up. At the beginning of the German occupation, local policemen came regularly to the village to pursue the Jews. The Jews were afraid and asked to hide at local residents’ homes. Witnesses especially remember the local policeman, Anton, who was particularly motivated to chase the Jews. Pinia and his wife Khasia were the first to be killed by the local policemen, in September 1941, in a garden, and buried on the spot by a local residents.
Other Jews, 21 in all, were shot shortly thereafter, in December, near the bridge outside the village. They were then buried on the spot in a pit by the local policemen. Bodies were exhumed after the war, when the road was enlarged. After the shooting, the houses and the belongings of the Jews were looted.

In 1943, the village was burnt down following an anti-partisan aktion, and 11 residents were killed.

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