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1 Execution site(s)
Marfa, born in 1928, recalls: "Upon the Germans’ arrival, all the Jews were registered and marked with a special sign on their sleeves. All the Jews had to wear those badges, even children. I don’t remember when it happened, but I still have this picture in my mind. I remember how a German put something under the nose of two boys and threw them in the truck. Their mother was screaming loudly. I don’t remember if she got in the truck afterwards. This happened when the Jews went to the site of the round-up, where trucks were waiting. When there were children, a German put a product under their nose and threw them in the truck." (Witness n°1953, interviewed in Hadiach, on October 27, 2015).
“On January 1942, under the order of German authorities, dozens of Jewish women and children were gathered in the town center with their valuables. On the site, the Gestapo soldiers pulled the children from their mothers and threw them in trucks. One of the Gestapo members put poison under the children’s noses. After that, all the children were taken to the ravine, sometimes still alive, and were thrown in the ravine and covered. The valuables were taken by the Germans. In this way, about 250 children were killed. The women and elderly people were taken by force into trucks to the same ravine and after they were forced to undress completely, they were shot.” [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission drawn up on September 14, 1944; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 70, Delo 939]
Hadiach is located 116 km north from Poltava. The first Jewish community was recorded at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1847, the Jewish community numbered 883 and by the end of the 19th century, had increased to 1,853 (24% of the local population). Due to pogroms in 1905 and the relocation of Jews to larger cities, in 1926, Jews made up only 18% of the total population and in 1939, even less than 6% as there were only 633 Jews. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the majority of Jews lived in the town center, on Karl Libknekhta Street. They were involved in commerce or worked as artisans. The Jewish children went to school with Ukrainians. There was a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery that are still preserved today. A famous rabbi, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, a founder of Hasidism, is buried in Hadiach. The town was occupied by German troops on September 27, 1941. 15% of the prewar Jews managed to evacuate to the East before the Germans’ arrival, while the Jewish men were enrolled in the Army.
Shortly after the start of the German occupation, all the Jews, except the children, were forced to wear white armbands bearing the Star of David. There was no ghetto and they were able to continue living in their houses till January 1942. Then, all the Jews were told to gather, taking only their valuables and food for a couple of days, under the pretext of being relocated. Those who didn’t come to the meeting point were taken by force from their houses. Once gathered, all the Jews were taken in trucks outside of the town, to the ravine. According to the archives and testimonies collected by Yahad, the babies and toddlers were pulled off their mothers’ hands and thrown separately into a truck. Before throwing them, someone put poison under their noise. In this way, about 250 children were killed. The elderly people, women and men were shot while the children’s corpses were thrown into the ravine. There is no exact information about the perpetrators, but we believe that this action was conducted by the same SD units Sonderkommando Plath, which operated in the Poltava region. From witnesses’ accounts, Yahad discovered that there were two shooters: one was in charge of loading the machine gun and another fired at small groups of Jews lined up at the edge of the ravine. After the shooting, Jewish valuables and clothing were taken by the Germans.
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