Lopuchowo | Bialystok

/ Henryka S., born in 1927, recalls: “My father was a soltys during the war. One day, he had to choose some people from the village to dig three pits in the forest.”© Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum Henryka S., born in 1927, recalls: “Entire families were shot there: men, women, children. They were brought to the execution site in trucks.”© Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum Stanislaw G., 97 years old, recalls: ”The Germans put some spotlights up so we could dig during the night as well. There were hundreds of us from at least six villages who were there to dig.” © Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum Stanislaw G., 97 years old, recalls: “The pits were square, at least as big as this house. They were 10-15 meters deep. » © Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum The research team during the interview © Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum The memorial at the execution site in the Lopuchowo Forest, where around 2500 Jews from Tykocin were shot© Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum The Lopuchowo Forest where the Jews from Tykocin were shot by the Nazis © Markel Redondo- Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews from Tykocin in Lopuchowo

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1939-1944
Number of victims :
2300-2500

Witness interview

Henryka S., born in 1927, recalls: « We got there at the same time as these trucks. First, the Germans shot twice and next, we saw them placing the Jews in a row at the edge of the pit. They were standing there, one next to another, alongside the pit. When we saw that, we ran away. If the Germans saw us, they would have certainly killed us. It was forbidden to watch (…)” (Eyewitness n°306, interviewed in Pniewo, on May 10, 2014)

Polish Archives

"On the 16th of August, 1941, (...), five German gendarmes came to Tykocin. As it turned out, Gestapo agents came soon after, with an instruction to kill all Jews from the town (...). On the next day, information was spread that it had been ordered to dig three deep large pits in the nearby forest. The digging was very fast because hundreds of village men were requisitioned to do it. The pits were twelve meters long, four meters wide and five meters deep (…)At 6pm on Sunday, 24th August, it was announced that all the Jews of Tykocin, except for the sick and disabled, must gather at the market square at 6 in the morning on 25th August (…)

Under pressure of time and whips, the Jews were chased to Jeżewo and further to Zawady village. They were forced to sing all the way. In Zawady, they were locked in a previously prepared school building. All the other people, who were transported by vans, were also taken there. A straight short way lead from Zawady to the Lopuchowo forest, where the pits already waited. As soon as all the Jews from the square were concentrated in Zawady, the last stage of the death march begun. A van full of Jews was coming to the school building every couple of minutes. The Jews were told they would be taken to a ghetto in Czerwony Bór. Instead, they were taken to the forest and thrown alive into the pits. The pits were 5 meters deep so there was no way out. The vans were running all day long and at dusk, the devilish work was done. The pit was filled in with people. Under the Germans’ supervision men from nearby villages threw soil and buried the Jews alive before night came." [AZIH 301/1971]

Historical note

Lopuchowo is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Tykocin, in the Bialystok region. According to Yahad’s witnesses, there were no Jews living in the village of Lopuchowo. Yet, Tykocin, located about 8km from Lopuchowo, was one of the most important Jewish centers in Poland before the war. In fact, in the 18th century, the Tykocin Jewish community was the second most important after the community of Kracow. The first Jews arrived in Tykocin in the 16th century. Jews from Tykocin were great traders: they imported different products, such as cloth, roots, metals, fish, wines, etc. In 1886, the first Christian-Jewish elementary school was established in Tykocin. Right before the beginning of WWII, there were about 2000 Jews living in Tykocin (44% of the whole local population). 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

When the Germans occupied Poland in September 1939, they directly started to persecute the Jews in Tykocin. They stole their belongings and they imprisoned Jewish and Polish men in a local church for three days. The first German occupation didn’t last long because a few days later, the Soviets arrived in Tykocin. During the Soviet occupation, between 1939-1941, many Jews came to Tykocin to escape the German-occupied territory.  The Germans reappeared in Tykocin in June 1941. The Jews had to wear white armbands with a star of David and were used for forced labor. On August 25 and 26, 1941, a mass execution of Jews from Tykocin took place in the Lopuchowo Forest. First, all of the Jews received an order to gather in the market place in Tykocin. There, a selection took place: young and healthy Jews were separated from the elderly. After the selection, the Jews were brought on foot to Zawady and locked up in a local school while awaiting the execution. From Zawady, they were led to the execution site where they were shot and buried in enormous mass graves dug by people from nearby villages: Lopuchowo, Hermany or Sierki. Around 2500 people were shot there and 150 were sent to the Bialystok ghetto. Only a few Jews from Tykocin managed to survive the massacre. 

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