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1 Execution site(s)
Vira N., born in 1928, remembers: “My sister was married to Jew who was the president of the kolkhoz. He was supposed to be evacuated. He was given a cart and we went away to the East. We went far away but we were stopped by the Germans and had to come back. When we came back, our house was looted. There were only walls.
YIU: What was your sister’s name? –Nadia.
YIU: And her husband’s?-Grisha. They had three kids. We hid them during the whole occupation.” (Testimony n°1969, interviewed in Kozelets, on November 22, 2015)
Kozelets is a village, located 69km south of Chernihiv. The first Jewish settlements in Kozelets date back to the 17th century. By the end of the 19th century, Jews comprised 30% of the total population. The majority of Jews were involved in trade or worked as artisans in garment manufacturing. Back then, it was an industrial town with many factories (i.e. tobacco, brick, leather factories) and mills that also belonged to Jews. In 1905 and 1918, the Jewish population suffered from pogroms during which the Jewish buildings and shops were destroyed.
There was a Talmud Torah, a private Jewish school, a synagogue and a prayer house as well as a Jewish cemetery. Some of Jewish children went to the Ukrainian school. Due to emigration into big cities such as Kiev, the Jewish population significantly decreased. On the eve of the war, there were 394 Jews in the village, comprising 9% of the total population. Kozelets was occupied by Germans on September 11, 1941.
Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, the anti-Jewish aktions began. There was no ghetto. The Jews were taken directly from their houses. On September 17 and 25, 1941, 5 Jews were shot. During the second action, which took place on October 22, 1941, 125 Jews were executed in the outskirts of the town, close to the hospital. The execution was carried out by mobile units, SD 4a, with the help of local police. After this mass execution, there were several isolated shooting of Jews who had managed to hide.
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