Kobeliaky (Kobeliaki, Kobelyaki, Kobielaki) | Poltava

/ Anastasia B., born in 1929: "When the Gypsies were brought to the shooting, a Gypsy held out her baby to my mother. Scared of being killed by the guards, my mother couldn’t take him." © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Yurii S., born in 1927: "I was a guard during the trial of two doctors who performed the injections on Jewish children in order to kill them.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Yakym D., born in 1926: "The Jews were brought to the place called Piski. The Germans hit them with sticks to make them advance. Later, at the same place, they shot the Gypsies." © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The Jewish house where the Jewish children were killed by injection. Once the adults were shot, the children were confined in this building and then killed. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad team spent about 4 hours with Yakym, who took us to all the memorial sites connected to the Holocaust © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Yakym, born in 1926, points out to the Yahad team the road that the Jews were taken down to the shooting © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The execution site. Back then, it was an anti-tank ditch where the Jews were shot. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad team with the witness near the execution site: “I was about 20m away from the anti-tank ditch and I saw how they made the Jews get down in groups of 10-12 [into the ditch], where a shooter was waiting for them…”© Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Kobeliaky

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Anti-tank ditch
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims :
About 200

Witness interview

Yakym D. , born in 1926, remembers the day when he saw the Jews being gathered : “One day all the remaining Jews were gathered close to the building of the professional school. They didn’t stay there long because the following morning they were all taken to the shooting. While going to the market, it was about 10 am, I saw a column arranged by eight in a row, escorted by four Germans and six policemen on both sides. There were men, women, children and elderly people in the column. There were about 100 of them in total. In front of the column, there was an elderly Jew who kept screaming: “The citizens, gather and fight against the enemy”. But at the same moment, a German came closer and hit him in the nape of the neck with a rifle butt.” (Witness n°1949, interviewed in Kobeliaky, on October 26, 2015)

Soviet archives

« Under the order of Sh., I didn’t tell the policemen who gathered the Jews who were going to be killed, but I guess many of them suspected that the the shooting would be conducted the next day. […] The shooting was carried out on the opposite bank of the Vorskla River, about 1km away from the village of Kobeliaki, in the anti-tank ditch. I was not present when the Jews were taken from Osoaviakhim’s building towards the river. When I got to the anti-tank ditch, I saw 7 Jews lined up the edge of the ditch. Some of them were completely naked, while others had underwear on. These Jews were shot by German soldiers who stood about 10 steps from the ditch. The corpses fell down into the ditch with the other corpses of Jews inside. The execution site was surrounded by the policeman armed with rifles. The wounded victims were finished off by the Germans.” [Interrogation of an accused chief of police K., taken on November 27, 1944; SBU Archives: 31.016, Delo n°13849]

Historical note

Kobeliaky is located on the banks of Vorksla River, 75km (47miles) southwest of Poltava. There are records that the first Jewish community dated back to the beginning of the 19th century. Over the course of the town’s history, several pogroms were carried out (in 1648, 1905 and 1918), which consequently decreased the Jewish population living in Kobeliky. There was a synagogue and two Jewish schools. The majority of Jews lived off of commerce and maintained the largest number of shops in the towns, while others were craftsmen. In 1930, 35 Jewish families joined the kolkhoz “Khleb i Trud” (Bread and Labor), one of the largest collective farms in the Poltava District. On the eve of the war, there were only 360 Jews living in Kobeliaky, which represented 4% of the total population.  The town was occupied on September 15, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From the occupation until September 1942, the town remained under German military administration. An open ghetto was established on the outskirts of the town. Due to the inhumane conditions, lack of food and forced labor, many Jews died in the ghetto. The main execution, in which over 100 Jews were murdered, was conducted in late January 1942 by Secret Field Police, Gendarmerie and local auxiliary Ukrainian police. The remaining 25 Jewish children from the orphanage and the elderly were killed by injection in March 1942. 

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