Mena | Chernihiv

/ The abandoned amusement park © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The abandoned amusement park © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Inside a witness’s house. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The Jewish cemetery in Mena. Several tombstones are abandoned. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The location of the synagogue. The building doesn’t exist anymore. Today, it is a private property. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The building of the former police station where the Jews were detained before being taken to the Jewish cemetery for the shooting © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The former Jewish quarter where an open ghetto was established © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The former Jewish quarter where an open ghetto was established © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The execution site in the field close to the road leading to Kukuvichi where about 70 Jews from Mena and Bilstava were shot along with local activists © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Execution site of Jews located at the Jewish cemetery © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Nikolay D., born in 1932: “First, they were taken to the police post and then, they were taken to the Jewish cemetery where they were shot. But there were also people shot on the streets of the ghetto, as you call it.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Nikolay D. shows the Yahad team the site connected to Jewish heritage and the Holocaust © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Nadia M., born in 1929: “After the shooting, we went to take a look. When we arrived, we saw a pile of corpses. Among them I saw my Jewish friend, Asia. We used to go to school together. She was lying there, dead.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Raisa T., born in 1933: “When we got to the Jewish cemetery, we saw an open mass grave full of corpses. There were children among them. It was not covered; there was just a thin layer of soil mixed with blood. The pit was still breathing.” © Kate Kornberg Raisa S., born in 1931: “Back then, I lived 300m away from the Jewish cemetery and every time there was a shooting, we could hear it. The shootings were carried out late in the evening to avoid the witnesses.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Mena

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery and field by the road
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims :
About 175

Witness interview

Nadia M., born in 1929, remembers the round up of the Jews: “Over one week, the Germans gathered about 30 Jews in a Jewish house. They went to take them from their homes. The house where they were confined is located on Troitskaya Street, not far away from my house. While being detained in this house, the Jews were gathered by Germans and were not allowed to leave. One evening, all the Jews were taken in trucks to the Jewish cemetery to the shooting.
YIU: How many trucks did you see?
W: It was one truck that made round trips until there were no Jews left in the house. After a while, we heard the shots…and we understood that they had been killed.” (Witness n°1958, interviewed in Mena, on November 18, 2015)

Soviet archives

16 people, including 6 Jews and 3 Ukrainian prisoners of war, were shot at the Jewish cemetery in Mena on December 20, 1941. (p. 715) […] On October 15, 1941, under the order of the kommandant from Mena, the Germans and the local policemen started the massacres of the Jewish population in the village. The second execution took place in November 1941 and the third in December 1941. (p.726) [Summary from the Acts of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, drawn up on July 17, 1944; RG.22.002M: Fond 7021, Opis 78, Delo 19]

Historical note

Mena is a town located on the banks of the Mena River, 90km east of Chernihiv. There is no information about the first records of the Jewish community, but supposedly it dates back to the end of the 18th century. There were two synagogues, which were closed under Russian rule, and a Jewish cemetery that still exists today. The majority of Jews were involved in trade, for example, all of the grocery stores belonged to the Jews; or they worked in craftsmanship. According to the 1939 census, 586 Jews lived in Mena. The town was occupied by Germans on September 8, 1941. By that time, more than half of the prewar Jewish population had managed to evacuate to the East.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, all Jews were registered and marked. Then, those Jews who lived outside of the Jewish quarter were relocated to an open ghetto, where they lived until mid-October 2941. The anti-Jewish aktions started in October and lasted till February 1942. According to different sources, between 31 and 124 Jews were murdered at the Jewish cemetery on October 15, 1941. According to the local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, before being taken to the cemetery, all the Jews were gathered in a building of the police station. From there, they were taken either in trucks or in carts to the cemetery, where they were shot. During the following execution, about 20 Jews from the nearby village of Blistavy were brought to Meny and shot in the open field close to the road, leading to the village of Kukuvichi. The last action was carried out on February 2, 1942, during which the remaining 50 Jews were shot at the same location as the Blistava Jews. The executions were carried out by SD units, accompanied by local Ukrainian police. After the war, an exhumation of the mass grave located at the Jewish cemetery was organized. Several corpses were taken by the families while others were reburied at the same place. 

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