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1 Execution site(s)
Natalia L. explains: “When we heard that the Jews were going to be killed, my friend and I ran to take a look. We were very curious. When we came, the shooting hadn’t started yet. There were women with children. That happened on March 17 and the men were shot the following day, on March 18. I saw my mathematics, Russian language and literature teacher among the victims. Everybody cried and screamed. Once all the Jews got along the trench, several Germans fired at them in the back.” (Eyewitness N°92, interviewed in Pochep, on October 25, 2010)
"Executions, tortures and hangings took place at different times and were conducted by the punitive organizations under German authority: the Gestapo, the Kommandantur, the SD and by the SS military units. 1,854 were shot and seven were hanged during the mass executions that took place in Pochep in January, February and March of 1942."[Act of Soviet Extraordinary commission; RG-22.002M, reel 9(II)/7021-19/4].
Pochep is located on the banks of the Sudost River about 80 km southwest of Bryansk. Prior to the war, 2,314 Jews were living in the town which represented 15% of total population. There was a Jewish cemetery and a synagogue. The majority of Jews lived off of trade. Some of them occupied executive posts in industry. The town was occupied by German forces on August 21, 1941. By this time, many Jews had managed to evacuate and Jewish men were enrolled in Red Army.
Shortly after the German occupation, the Jews were marked, registered and forbidden to leave the town. In early 1942, all the Jews from Pochep and the surrounding villages were confined in a ghetto. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the ghetto was situated in a former slaughterhouse, which was fenced in with barbed wire. The liquidation Aktion was conducted in March 1942 by a special SD mobile unit (Sonderkommando 7a). From their field research, Yahad discovered that women and children were the first to be shot. Men and young boys were shot a few days later. Such an execution method is singular to this area. Children from mixed families along with their Russian mothers were gathered by a starosta and murdered last. According to the Soviet archives, 1,875 Jews, including men, women, and children, were murdered during the Holocaust.
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