Mozyr (Mosyr, Mazyr) | Gomel

/ Ambiance in Mozyr © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Maria G., born in 1930, said : “When I came  home after the shooting, my Mum was very angry with me.”    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Maria B., born in 1928, recalls that when she saw the column going to the shooting site, everybody was crying    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum Yahad team during a witness interview    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum The ravine at the end of Romashov Rov, where Jews from Mozyr were killed    © Aleksey Kasyanov  - Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Mozyr

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Ravine
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
More than 1,500

Witness interview

Maria G., born in 1930, recounts: “It was in winter. It was cold. I heard shouts and I went up the hill. I saw a column with sleds coming towards the small ravine of sand, which was between the city and the small village of Bobry. Children were on sleds and the adults walked in front of them. The children were 5-6 years old maximum, they shouted, they cried and the guards hit them with blows of their rifle butts. There were local policemen in black uniforms and German soldiers in green uniforms. The adults were pushed into a group in the ravine and shot. Then the children had to come down from the sleds, they were also placed in groups, pushed into the ravine and shot.”(Eyewitness N°865, interviewed in Mozyr, on September 27, 2014)

Soviet archives

“On the order of the leader of the gendarmerie of Mozyr and the leader of the SD, in autumn 1941, all inhabitants of Jewish nationality of the city of Mozyr were gathered in a ghetto situated on Romashov Rov Street. According to witnesses, about 1500 Jews from Mozyr and the surroundings, for the most part, women, children and elderly people, were gathered in the ghetto. From January 6-7, 1942, and for a whole week, the present Jews in the ghetto were daily brought in groups of 100 or 200 people towards the site of the shooting. Jews were shot in pits dug in advance, but also in natural ravines.” [Act of The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission drawn up on January 1, 1945, RG-22.002M. 7021-91-20]

German archives

During the first hours in the morning on September 10, 1941, the German soldiers and the members of the Gendarmeria gathered Jewish men, women and children, forcing them out of their houses at the building of the executive committee of the town. From there, they were brought to the dock of the Pripyat River. On the site, they were forced to sit down on the bridge in the water in groups of five or seven. The soldiers dressed in uniforms fired a bullet into the nape of the neck till all the victims fell down inside the water and afterwards, their corpses were taken by the current. When a woman with a baby and a toddler approached the bridge, one German took a baby and threw him in the air while another fired at him before he fell into the water. The shooting lasted from 11am to 9pm. During the shooting, 500 Jews were murdered. [Report of German unit, B162-7301, p.81-89]

Historical note

Mozyr is a city located 130 km southwest of Gomel. In 1939, there were 6,307 Jewish people living in the town (36 % of the total population). The first Jewish community was recorded as living there as early as the 16th century. During the course of the town’s history, the Jews were subjected to several pogroms (in 1648, 1918-1921). In one such pogrom, on November 10, 1920, 44 Jews were killed, more than 250 women raped, and Jewish property looted. The Jews were mostly storekeepers in the center of the city and they also ran boating businesses on the Pripiat River. The lumber industry was very developed in Mozyr and its vicinity. In 1925, a Jewish agricultural cooperative, "Krasnyi Pakhar" (The Red Ploughman), was established near town. Until 1938, there were two Yiddish elementary schools (a yeshiva, Jewish school and Talmud-Torah school) and eight active synagogues, but everything was closed under the Soviet Union. The city was a regional center before the war. The city was occupied by German troops on August 22, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Mozyr became an important German center as it was the seat of a Gebietskommissariat. Upon their arrival, Germans killed about 150 activists, the majority of whom were Jews.

In fall 1941, a ghetto was established on Romashov Rov Street. Today it is Saeta Street. Jews were packed mostly in small wooden houses and living conditions were very poor. Jews from surrounding villages, like Prudok, Strygalov, Kopatkevichi, Yelsk, Petrikov, Narovlia and others, were also gathered in the ghetto. According to German records, by January 1941, the ghetto numbered 1,942. According to some sources, there was another ghetto, located on Kimborovskaya Street, which existed for a few weeks and was liquidated in September 1941.

From September 1941 to 1943, several executions of the Jews were carried out.

The first Aktion was conducted on September 27-28, 1941, when 1,000 Jews were killed in the Jewish cemetery. Today, it is Ryzhkova Street. In the fall, several hundreds Jews were shot or drowned in the Pirpyat River.

The third execution was carried out on January 6-7, 1942 during which 1,000 Jews were taken to the quarry, close to the village of Bobry.  

A month later, in February 1942, the fourth action was conducted. During the liquidation of the ghetto more than 1,150 Jews were killed in the ravine, Romashov Rov. During the execution, the victims were forced to undress, descend into the pit, and lie down facing the ground as someone fired at them with an automatic weapon. After the liquidation of the ghetto, a group of craftsmen was still jailed in the prison and they were shot by the German Gendarmerie in spring 1942.

After the liberation of the city in January 1944, the Soviet authorities uncovered mass graves in 2 other sites: the Jewish cemetery with about 18 pits and 1000 corpses. At the end of Svidovka Street, they found 2 pits and more than 600 bodies.

An act of sabotage was recorded on August 31, 1941, when about 40 Jews committed suicide by setting fire to their house, 19 Pushkin Street.

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