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2 Execution site(s)
Ivan P., born in 1927, recounted what happened to the Jews: “All the Jews were assembled. They took, for instance, four Jews on a truck and brought them to the military base, where they were forced to dig a pit. They didn’t know what they were digging the pit for. Once they dug the pits, they were ordered to sit down and a shooter fired with a gun, one after another. They fell down into the pit. After that, women, children and elderly people were brought there. There were children of different ages, including babies and toddlers. The policeman was there. He brought the Jews to the edge of the pit and… Pah! Pah! Pah! He picked up the little kids under their arms, threw them in the air and fired. As if this kid didn’t even exist? And his corpse fell down on the ground. At that moment, we were on the other side of the river. They noticed us and started to fire in our direction. We ran away. That is all I can say.” (Eyewitness n°1724, interviewed in Chudniv, on June 02, 2016).
“…started to massively round up all the Jews and confined them in the building of the district Klub. From there, they were taken to the fields to harvest potatoes. They were systematically subjected to humiliation. On the way back from work, they were forced to go deep into the water, to swim, and then, to get out and to dance naked. To make a long story short, they did anything they wanted to them.
After that, the gendarmes and police started to transport the Jews to the park where they were forced to dig their own grave, to undress completely, after what they were shot. In all, 3,600 Soviet citizens including 900 children were shot in Chudniv by German invaders, helped by local police. [Deposition of Sofia T., a local inhabitant to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, 22.002M.7021- 60-315]
Chudniv is located 45 km southwest of Zhytomyr. The history of the Jewish community dates back to 1648. On the eve of the war, about 2,500 Jews lived in the town and represented over 40% of the total population. The majority of the Jews lived off of handcraft and small businesses. According to the witnesses, some Jews owned small factories, like distilleries or breweries. There was a wooden synagogue. The town was occupied by Germans in early July 1941. By that time, 15% of the Jewish population evacuated or, in the case of young men, were enrolled in the Soviet army.
Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, an open ghetto was established on July 15, 1941. All Jews were forced to wear armbands and all contact with the local population was prohibited. Due to poor living conditions and cold weather, many Jewish inmates died in the fall. There were several Aktions conducted between September and November 1941 by German police, who were accompanied by local Ukrainian police. During some Aktions, as was confirmed by the witnesses, Ukrainian police conducted the shooting on their own. In the course of those Aktions, over 2,000 Jews were killed. During the second and third actions, before being killed, the Jews taken from ghetto were confined in the Klub building. Then, they were taken to the local park, located 800m away, and shot. The specialists were killed in the middle of November 1941. In the archives, an action in which children were thrown alive into the well was mentioned, but during the fieldwork, none of the witnesses confirmed this fact. In addition to the local Jews, 100 Jews from Pyatka were brought and shot in Chudniv in August 1941.
For more information about the execution of Jews in Pyatka, please refer to corresponding profile.
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