Novozybkov | Bryansk

/ Autumn in Novozybkov, October 2010 © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Witness showing Yahad’s team the former building of the synagogue  © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with the witness near the former theater building where the Jews were locked up© David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum The former building of Gerstapo in Novozybkov © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Two Jewish houses that reamin from the war © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Mikhail, born in 1932, saw the column of Jews. He remembered that all the Jews walked together. The ones who couldn’t walk were transported on sleds © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Nikolay M., born in 1924:"One night, a young SS officer, about my age, told me what had happened. The Jews had to undress to their underwear, and then they were searched; they had to lie down in the pit, and they were shot." © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-I Maria V., born in 1927,  explained how her family hid a Jewish woman with her son and daughter, Fira, before the execution © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Anna A., born in 1924: “All the Jews were gathered at the theater building situated close to the factory. They were guarded by police.“ © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Tatiana B., born in 1930, could see the column of Jews being brought to the execution site. The elderly and children were taken in carts that followed the column © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Ivan F., born in 1924: “Once the Germans arrived, a Judenrat was created. All the Jews except the children were forced to wear Stars of David on their chests and backs.” © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum The killing site of the Novozybkov Jews in the Kharkovka Forest © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with a witness near the execution site © David Merlin-Dufey – Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Karkhovka Forest, Novozybkov

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims :
2860

Witness interview

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)

Soviet archives

"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]

Historical note

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.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

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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