Kortelisy | Volyn

Yelizaveta K., born in 1927: “When I came closer to the pit, I could recognize my friends Maria and Benyamin.” © Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum Yelizaveta K. : “The local villagers were requisitioned to transport the bodies with their carts. Once I saw carts full of bodies.”© Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team during the interview at the witness’ house © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Yelizaveta K. leads the Yahad team to one of the places where the corpses of the Jews shot dead on the spot were buried. © Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum The monument at the burial place of the local Ukrainians, Poles and Jews murdered in 1941-1942.  © Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Kortelisy

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
In the village
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
About 3,000

Witness interview

Yelizaveta K., born in 1927, remembers: ”Some Jews were shot dead on the spot while attempting to escape. The local villagers were requisitioned to transport the bodies with their carts. Once I saw carts full of bodies. At that time I was working in the fields when a cart passed by. There were about forty bodies on the cart. They took them to bury them at the same place where the modern-day memorial is. The bodies were transported to the pit during the day and during all this time the pit remained opened. When I came closer to the pit, I could recognize my friends Maria and Benyamin. During the night the pit was covered and one German stayed there overnight to guard the place.” (Testimony n°466, interviewed in Kortelisy, on April 3, 2007)

Historical note

Kortelisy is located on the border of Belarus, about 170km northwest of Lutsk and 80 km north of Kovel. There is no exact information about when the Jewish community was established in the village.  It’s likely that it dates back to 17th century. Between the two world wars, the village remained under Polish rule. In 1921, 195 Jews lived in the village. On the eve of the war this number declined to about several dozen. Most of the Jews were merchants or craftsmen. A Tarbut elementary school was opened in the village. There was also a synagogue. In 1939, the village was taken over by the Soviet Union and in late June it was occupied by the Germans. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Shortly after the German arrival, all Jews over the age of 12 years old were marked with yellow patches in the form of the Star of David. According to Yad Vashem, their houses were marked with the star as well. Some day in late spring or early summer of 1942, about 60 families from Kortelisy were moved to the newly established ghetto in Ratne. They were shot along with the local Jews during the liquidation of the ghetto in July or August 1942.  According to some testimonies collected by Yahad, a number of Jews were shot dead on the spot. Their corpses were buried in the mass graves along with the local Ukrainians and Poles. The remaining Jews were shot to death on the same summer, on the outskirts of Mlynovo village, together with the Jews of this village. In late September 1942, 2,875 residents of Kortelisy, including women and children, were shot to death in the central square and the village was burned down. Supposedly, during this Aktion some Jews were also killed. This aktion was conducted by Germans as the reprisal against the partisans who were very active in this area.

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