Dunilovichi (Dunilowicze, Dunilowichy) | Vitebsk

A synagogue / the house of a rich Jew - nowadays it is a shop. © Taken from www.jhrgbelarus.org A group of young people on the bridge in Dunilovichi © Taken from www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/dunilovichi/dunilovichi.html A group of young men from Dunilovichi c 1930 © Taken from www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/dunilovichi/dunilovichi.html Yona Pinia Svirski with family. Only son Nachke survived teh Holocuast. He lived in Argentina © Taken from www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/dunilovichi/dunilovichi.html / The old Jewish cemetery in Dunilovichi. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Former Jewish house in Dunilovichi © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Edmond Sh., born in 1925, remembered a Jew Yankel who escaped from the Dunilovichi ghetto with his wife and son, made a shelter in the forest 2 km away from the village and lived in it.© Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Yuzefa G., born in 1926, remembered that her house  was burned down by the Germans, because her brother was a partisan. So, the family lived in the forest.  © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Maria G., born in 1922, points out the location of the former ghetto in the village of Dunilovichi.  © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The place where the ghetto was situated in Dunilovichi. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Yahad team during the interview with Maria G. in Dunilovichi. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Maria G., born in 1922,  saw a poor Jew about 40-year-old, without family escorted by the two policemen.   The victim was placed at the edge of the pit facing it and shot with a rifle.   © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The bridge where Maria G. saw the corpses of the killed Jews during the Aktion carried out in November 1942. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The mass grave of Jews executed in Dunilovichi, located just outside the town, beside Catholic and Orthodox cemeteries. This is a burial place of Jews killed in the town during the liquidation of the ghetto. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Dunilovichi

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Meadow near the orthodox and catholic cemetery/Pineforest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
829-900/1 Jewish man

Witness interview

Edmond Sh., born in 1925, remembered: “A Jew, Yankel, escaped from the ghetto in Dunilovichi with his wife and son, made a shelter in the forest, located 2 km away from the village and lived in it. Locals brought food for them. The escapees survived, went to Israel and sent many gifts to their rescuers.” (Testimony n°884, interviewed in Dunilovochi, on May 13, 2016)

Soviet archives

“During the German occupation, about 15 days after their arrival, the Jewish population of Dunilovichi started to be abused and tortured. Any man could be beaten on the street only because of his origin, because he was Jewish. […]
One day, at night, on November 21, thirty SD members arrived into the ghetto accompanied by 70 local policemen. Once the ghetto was surrounded, they started to fire with submachine guns into the houses. Then, all Jews, about 500 in all, were forced out of their homes. Everyone was forced out, undressed and they shot them with a submachine gun. I was undressed as well, but I decided to run away. When they opened the door, I escaped and ran away. They fired at me but the bullet hit my left ear. However, I pretended to be dead. Then at night, I managed with great effort to free myself from corpses and to get out of the pit. […]
Later, when it was calm again, I got up and went to my friend’s house and hid with him in his fireplace. We spent 4 days without food. We had to move out. During the time we stayed in this fireplace we heard the gunfire, they chased the survivals.
There were about 900 people in the ghetto, 628 were shot, 200 were burned in their houses and about 72 managed to save themselves, among them 50 survived and others were captured on the routes”. [Interrogatory report of Jewish survivor, Moisei T., taken on April 9, 1944, by State Extraordinary Commission; RG22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 92, Delo 216]

Historical note

Dunilovichi is located about 130 km north from Minsk and about 193 km west from Vitebsk. In 1847 there were 326 Jews in the village and 685 in 1931. The majority of Jews lived off small trade; many of them were artisans, or doctors. They lived in the center of the village. In September of 1915 the Jewish population suffered from pogroms conducted by Cossacks. After that, due to relocation, the number of Jews dropped significantly. There were 3 synagogues in the village, 3 Heders and lots of different youth organizations .About 1,000 Jews lived in the village on the eve of the war. The Germans occupied the region in late June 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Soon after the Germans’ arrival they started to humiliate and abuse the Jews. For about a year the Jews could live freely, but had to wear distinguishing badges on their backs.  In January 1942 the Jews were gathered in a ghetto, located between Pashovskaya and Glubokaya street near the lake. It was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by local police. The non- Jews who lived on that territory beforehand had to move. While staying in the ghetto, the Jews were taken for different kinds of forced labor, like cleaning streets, clearing the herbs in a lake, road construction. 

The ghetto was liquidated on November, 21 of 1942, when 30 Germans arrived for this purpose from Glubokoye. Once the ghetto was surrounded, they started to shoot and set the ghetto on fire.  Those Jews who tried to escape were shot on the spot. After their bodies were taken and burred in the mass grave. According to different sources 829 (according to the monument) to 900 Jews (according to the archives) were murdered during the liquidation of the ghetto which lasted several days.  There were children, women and men among the victims. From the accounts of local witnesses we found out that on the next day after the shooting, the partisans attacked Dunilovichi. Several Germans were killed. As a result, the Germans burned down the ghetto and the whole town of Dunilovichi was set on fire.

According to the witness, there were several isolated shootings conducted by Germans which lasted until fall 1943. For example, in the fall 1943, the Germans, assisted by the local police, shot 20 Jews, some of them managed to escape; the corpses of others were buried in the village by local people.

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