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1 Execution site(s)
Nadia S., born in 1929, remembered: “On the day of the shooting, I went with my grandmother to milk the cow, but we couldn’t pass as the way was blocked by the Germans. They stopped us about 50m away from the gathering point, where all the Jews were told to assemble on October 16. They all waited there, some of them sat down, and others remained standing up. They cried a lot. They couldn’t escape anywhere because the territory was sealed off by Germans and policemen. There were a lot of children of different ages. I remember mothers holding their children in their arms and crying. I think they already knew what was waiting for them… They seemed to be desperate. We didn’t stay a long time there, the Germans let us pass when we showed him where we were going to.” (Witness n°1922, interviewed in Zasullia, on October 16, 2015)
“On October 16, 1941, at 9:00 in the morning, they had already begun making the civilian residents, women, the elderly, and children, run in groups of 35-40. My wife and I were able to see women who were holding small babies in one hand and two or even three children in the other. The elderly also carried or led their grandchildren by the hand. […]
From my house, through the opened window, we could see the atrocities committed against the civilians on the site where they were shot. Once all women, children and elderly people were assembled there, they were forced to take off their underwear and line up at the edge of the ditch. Later, someone fired with an automatic weapon and the corpses fell down into the pit.” [Deposition of a local witness, Moisei P., taken on April 27, 1944, to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 70, Delo 981]
“In the morning, when we left, we didn’t know what kind of intervention it would be. When we had to go to the prison in order to load the detainees into the trucks, we suspected what was waiting for us. I think that in each truck, there were about 20-25 people. Once the truck was full, we put them in a column to lead them outside of town. After about 15 minutes of driving, we stopped at the sand quarry where the gendarmes and the shooters had to form a barrier chain. According to my estimation, there were about 50 soldiers, mostly gendarmes, who formed the barrier. The trucks had to arrive at the pit in reverse so that the detained could get off directly into the pit. Once the barrier was made, I had to open the truck from the back and the detainees got off, one by one, after undressing and leaving their clothing in the truck. One pit measured 20m in length, 3m wide and about 1,5-2m in depth. I didn’t participate in the shooting because I had to stay close to the truck, located about 10m away from the pit. I could observe everything well from that location. As I started to explain, the detainees had to undress inside the truck, get down at the bottom of the pit, lay down facing the ground before being shot.” [Deposition of a driver of FK 608, taken on September 24, 1963 ; B162-5885 pp.24-30]
Lubny is located on the banks of the Sula River, midway between Kyiv and Poltava, about 130km northwest of Poltava. The first Jewish settlements in Lubny dated back to the 17th century. During the pogroms in 1648-1649, a few hundred Jews were killed. With time, the Jewish community increased and reached 3,500 people by 1939 (12% of the local population). A well-known Jewish writer and playwright Shalom Aleichem, born in Poltava, lived in Lubny for three years, from 1880 to 1883.
In the 1920s, there were many small industries, such as the tobacco factory, flour mill, rope factory, where a small percentage of Jews worked. Other Jews were involved in trade; almost 90% of stores belonged to Jews or worked as artisans. There was a Yiddish school, a synagogue and cemetery in Lubny. The Germans occupied Lubny on September 13, 1941. By that time, many Jews had managed to evacuate and young Jewish men were enlisted into the army.
Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, all Jews were registered and marked. Shortly after, on October 10, 1941, the German commander of Lubny ordered all Jews from the town and the rest of the county to gather under the pretext of further resettlement. Special posters were hanging throughout the town, stating that all the Jews had to arrive with their belongings and food provisions for three days at a meeting point on Zamostye Street for further resettlement. Most people came. At 9 a.m. on that day, about 4,500 Jews gathered and were marched by Sonderkommando 4a, accompanied by local police to the rope factory and forced to undress. Then, they were forced to run, in groups of 35-40, to anti-tank trenches located near the factory, where they were shot. The Germans’ reports of SK4a mentioned that on that day, more than 1,800 Jews were killed. The Germans took the valuables and good clothing, while other piles of clothes were burned. From the accounts of local witnesses and the Soviet archives, we believe that the children weren’t shot, but poisoned. Dozens of Jews who were hiding, as well as skilled workers whose lives had been spared earlier, were killed in April-May of 1942.
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