Skvyra | Kyiv

/ The entrance into the Jewish cemetery  © Victoria Bahr – Yahad – In Unum Lyubov S., born in 1927, witnessed the shooting: “The Jews were forced to disrobe and to put their clothes in a pile. Then, they marched on the plank that had been placed across the pit and two policemen fired at them.” © Victoria Bahr – Yahad – In Unum Oleksandr K., born in 1925: “Before the shooting, the Jews were locked up at the school building. They had nothing to eat or drink.“ © Victoria Bahr – Yahad – In Unum Aksentiy P., born in 1927, watched the shooting with his friend from a tree: “The shooters had a “Totenkopf” sign on their helmet. They were Germans.”  © Victoria Bahr – Yahad – In Unum During the interview © Victoria Bahr – Yahad-In Unum The execution site of about 850 Jews at the Jewish cemetery © Victoria Bahr – Yahad-In Unum

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Executions of Jews in Skvyra

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
850

Witness interview

Oleksandr K., born in 1925, recalls: “The Jews remained imprisoned at the school building for a while, but I can’t tell you exactly how much time. One day, they were told to get ready because they were supposed to be transported somewhere else. But it was a lie. They were taken to the grain warehouse. By that time, the pit had already been dug at the Jewish cemetery. They were taken in groups of ten from the warehouse to the cemetery, where they were shot. There were planks placed over the pit. The shooters fired at them with machine guns. Just before firing at them, the Germans yelled “Wei, wei.” Some fell down still alive; others were shot dead. There was a woman who brought one child in her arms and another one walked near her, holding her hand…” (Eyewitness N°1747, interviewed in Skvyra, on June 10, 2013).

Soviet archives

“850 Jews were shot at the Jewish cemetery. Their belongings were looted…” [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, drawn up on January 05, 1944; RG.22.002M.7021-65/521]

Historical note

Skvyra is located 94 km from Kyivn in central Ukraine. In 1736, Skvyra was mentioned as a village leased by a Jewish renter. According to the census of 1765, 51 of 124 houses belonged to Jews. Until 1897, the Jewish population increased to 8910, which made up 50 percent of the local population.  Altogether, there were eight pogroms between 1917 and 1919 of the Jewish population. Due to the murder of 191 Jews as well as the evacuation of the Jewish population, the Jewish population diminished to 2243 in 1939, making up only 20 percent of the local population. The town was occupied by German forces on July 14, 1941. By that time, many Jews had managed to flee to the east, while the Jewish men were enrolled in the Army.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

One month after the Germans’ arrival, a Jewish ghetto, fenced with barbed wire, was created. It was located on Taras Shevchenko Street. In mid-September 1941, the Jews were forced to wear yellow Stars of David and to perform different kind of forced labor, like cleaning the streets and working in the Kommandantur. There were two mass executions of Jews in Skvyra. The first one was carried out on September 20, 1941 during the liquidation of the ghetto and was conducted by Germans and Ukrainian police. During this action, about 850 Jews were first taken to school n°2, and from there, they were brought on foot or by truck to the Jewish cemetery, where they were shot in four pits.  According to the witness interviewed by Yahad, the shooting lasted from 11am to 5pm. The Jews were shot in small groups. Before being shot, they were forced to undress and pushed on to a plank placed across the pit.  According to historian Martin Dean, after the liquidation of the ghetto, 140 remaining Jews were shot by the EK5 in a stable. Yahad’s fieldwork revealed that a local villager, named Tatar, was requisitioned to dig and cover the pit as well as arrange the bodies.

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