Velizh | Smolensk

/ Yulia P., born in 1928 was present during the liquidation of the ghetto. She saw the ghetto burning. Some Jews tried to escape passing through the barbed wire but many died trying this© Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum Rural landscape© Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum Alexander B., born in Velizh, saw a shooting in fall 1941 during which 150 Jews perished, shot by the Germans © Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum Witness on the execution site © Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum Old Jewish cemetery © Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum During the interview © Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum Nelia I. remembered that the Jews were gathered in the ghetto in February or March 1942. The Germans burned the ghetto © Miguel Maldonado – Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Velizh

3 Execution site(s)

Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941-1943

Witness interview

Oleksandr B. recalls: "On January 28 and 29, 1942, the ghetto was set on fire. The Germans sprayed it with kerosene. If somebody tried to escape, they were shot. The local Germans liquidated the ghetto. They began at 4 p.m. and finished early the next morning." (Witness N°158, interviewed in Velizh, on May 30, 2011).

Soviet archives

"During the first days of September, an order was issued to the Jews according to which all Jews aged 18-35 were to present themselves at the Kommandantur without delay, bringing shovels with them. They were forced in a truck and taken outside of the town. Once there, they were forced to dig pits. Then, 120 people were shot."
( Act drawn by the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, on April 24, 1944, RG-22.002M/7021-44/619,).

Historical note

Velizh lies on the banks of the Western Dvina River, 125 kilometers

northwest of Smolensk and 80 kilometers  northeast of Vitebsk. There were 1,788  Jews in 1939.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The German troops arrived in Velizh on July 13, 1941. From September 41 to the start of October 1941, Sonderkommando 7a was based in Velizh and perpetrated actions against the Jews. In September 1941, on the pretext of a work assignment, the Germans gathered approximately 150 Jewish men aged 18 to 35, took them out of the city, and shot them. Shortly afterwards, 50 young women were brutally beaten with rifle butts for trying to escape. At the end of September 1941, the Jews were gathered in a ghetto. There were 1,400 to 1,500 Jews in the ghetto.  On several occasions in December 1941 and January 1942, the Russian police took young Jewish girls and teenagers for work in the city and shot them after they had finished.

On January 30, the Germans and Russian police sealed all the exits from the pigsty, poured gas on it, and set it on fire. Then they burned down the houses in the ghetto where other Jews were still living.

About 600 people were killed during the liquidation of the ghetto.

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