Rechitsa | Gomel

/ Inside a witness’s house    © Sabine Mirlesse  - Yahad-In Unum The Rechitsa Jewish cemetery    © Sabine Mirlesse  - Yahad-In Unum Lyudmila K. remembers that Jews were thrown alive into the pit    © Sabine Mirlesse  - Yahad-In Unum Lyubov P. cried when speaking about the shooting of the Jews she witnessed    © Sabine Mirlesse  - Yahad-In Unum Lyudmila K. and her sister, Lyubov P., on the site where they saw the shooting of the Jews of Rechitsa    © Sabine Mirlesse  - Yahad-In Unum The forest near Rechitsa where Jews, activists and Soviet prisoners of war, were shot    © Sabine Mirlesse  -   Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Rechitsa

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest/Courtyard
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims :
Around 1000

Witness interview

Lyubov P., born in 1930, remembers: “The Jews were locked in the houses of the nail factory workers. There was barbed wire around the territory where the Jews were gathered. They stayed there approximately two weeks. There was also a big yard in the middle of these buildings where a large, deep trench had been dug. Then, during a dark day in autumn, I heard terrible shouts. With my friend, we climbed to the top of a barn to see what was happening. The Jews were violently chased away from the houses. They were led to the trench and they had to descend, one by one, in to it. The local policemen moved above the pit and shot them with a rifle. The Germans were also present.” (Eyewitness N°817, interviewed in Rechitsa on June 22, 2014).

Soviet archives

“A week and a half after the arrival of the German troops in Retchitsa, the German authorities summoned the Jew Malinkovich and gave him the order to conduct the census of the Jewish population of the city of Rechitsa and to sew on every Jew, two yellow stars with five points. We also said to write down all the names on lists for the German authorities. At the end of November 1941, the entire Jewish population of Rechitsa was gathered in the building of a district factory, surrounded with barbed wire. So, in this building, approximately 785 families were imprisoned, which was a little more than 3000 people. At this moment, the German commander of the city, recently appointed, arrived and declared: " I shall not take up my post as long as all the Jews and the communists will not be shot.” [Testimony of Ekaterina M. born in 1926, for The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG- 22.002M. 7021-85- 217]

Historical note

Rechitsa is a city located 60 kilometers southwest of Gomel. It was and it is still a district center today. In 1939, according to the census, there were 7237 Jews living in the city, making up more than 27% of the total population. There was a big synagogue and a large Jewish cemetery. Before the German arrival in the middle of August 1941, nearly 4000 Jews were evacuated by the authorities, by rail, road, or boats on the Dniepr River.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

During the first months of the German occupation, the Jews were able to continue living freely in their own houses. But in September 1941, 216 young Jewish men were registered as having been shot by Sonderkommando 7b.

At the end of November 1941, the remaining Jews were gathered in the building of the nail factory, on the corner of Frunze and Sovetskaya Streets. The ghetto territory was surrounded with barbed wire. But according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Yahad, the Jews were sometimes able to leave the ghetto and circulate in the city. In that ghetto, there were also non Jews, like prisoners of war, Communists, and activists.

Around 300 ghetto prisoners were taken away on trucks and shot on November 25, 1941, in a forest west of the city, near the hospital.

The last prisoners, mainly women, children and old people, were shot shortly thereafter in a trench dug by the Jews themselves near the factory building. The Jews had to descend into  the pit by stairs, before being shot. The operation was carried out by local policemen and Germans, but according to testimonies recorded by Yahad, the policemen were the principal shooters. In 1946, the bodies were exhumed and reburied in the Jewish cemetery.

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