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1 Execution site(s)
Leonid K., born in 1931, remembers : “The shooting took place in a pine forest near the road from Gomel to Moscow. The communists were shot first. They arrived in trucks. There were only men, and among them was my father. They were shot, one by one, at the edge of a pit that had been dug by Jews one week earlier. They had the right to say something before being shot. So my father said that he was happy to have dedicated 34 years of his life to the struggle against fascism. Then, the Jews arrived in column on foot. They stood, in groups, at the edge of the pit before being shot. There were many Germans present there that day." (Eyewitness N°803, interviewed in Dobrush on June 17, 2014).
Dobrush is a small city located about 25 kilometers east of Gomel. It was, and is still today, a district center. In 1926, there were 372 Jewish residents living in Dobrush out of a total population of 13,800 inhabitants. Before the German occupation in late August 1941, 2/3 of the Jewish population was able to escape from the town.
At the end of October 1941, under the pretext of deportation, the Jews were confined south of the city in 2 buildings of Machine Tractor Building Station (MTS). The Jews were subjected to forced labor, like cleaning the streets, under the supervision of the local police or the Germans.
On November 20, 1941, the Jews were forced to dig a pit in a pine forest, close to MTS. The liquidation of the Jews was scheduled to take place at the same time as the execution of 19 Soviet activists who had been arrested previously.
On the morning of November 21, the activists and the Jews were taken to the place of shooting in a column. The aktion was carried out by officers of Einsatzkommando 8, coming from Gomel, assisted by local policemen. According to eyewitnesses interviewed by Yahad, the policemen formed a cordon to control the victims in order to prevent any escape. The activists were shot first, one by one. Then, the Jews were killed in small groups at the edge of the pit. It was said that the German murderers killed the children with a knife and threw them, still alive, into the pit. In all, 106 Jews were killed in this mass execution.
After the mass shooting, the most valuable of the victims’ belongings were confiscated by the Germans and local policemen, or sold or distributed to local inhabitants.
During the spring of 1942, another aktion took place in which about 70 Jews were killed. Apparently, it was Jews who had been in hiding. They were kept in 3 houses outside of the city before being shot.
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