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1 Execution site(s)
Yuriy G. remembered the beginning of the persecutions of the Jews: “Upon the Germans’ arrival, the Jews were able to continue living normally. They were just marked with yellow Stars of David on their chests and backs as well as on armbands. One day, all the Jews were told that they were going to be transported to Palestine. They were told to take only valuables and to show up at the factory’s Klub building. Under the pretext that their other belongings would be sent to them afterwards, they had to leave them. Once everyone was there, all the Jews were taken in a column towards the railroad. They were shot in the shell holes located close by. The gunfire could be heard in the entire town till the evening.” (Witness n°93, interviewed in Novozybkov, on October 26, 2010)
"The first group of Jews (950 people) was taken to the execution site on 19th January, 1942. The elderly, the sick and small children were transported on a wagon with a sign reading: ’We are Jews and we deserve death.’” [Act drawn up by the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, on June 1944, RG-22.002M, Reel 9(II)/7021-19/2]
Novozybkov is situated 60km northeast of Gomel. Prior to the war, 3,129 Jews lived in the town, which represented about 13% of the total population. According to the witnesses, the Jews lived throughout the town, but there were a couple of streets in the town center inhabited only by Jews. The majority of Jews lived off of trade. Some worked in small industries, like the wood factory and bakery. The Novozybkov Jews were very religious. They had a synagogue and a Rabbi. The town was occupied by Germans in mid-August 1941. By this time, many Jews managed to evacuate and Jewish men were enrolled in the Red Army.
From Yahad’s research and archives, we know the Jews were able to continue living in their homes at the beginning of the German occupation. They were marked and registered. Yahad’s fieldwork revealed that there was a location where all the Jews were gathered before being executed, but we cannot say that it was a ghetto in the proper sense of the term. However, this area was established in October-November 1941. Before the execution, all the Jews were gathered in the theater building, also called the Klub, close to the factory. The territory was surrounded by a gate and was watched day and night by local police. According to different sources, more than 800 people were confined in this building. The execution Aktion was carried out in March 1942 by a special SS unit and Germans. Local witnesses mentioned that local Russian police also participated in the shootings. According to different estimations, between 1,000 and 2,860 Jews were murdered in Novozybkov.
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