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Vladimir C., born in 1927, remembers : « I was grazing my cows just outside of the city when I saw covered trucks going through. It was approximately 1 pm. The Germans drove these trucks with the Jews inside. There were also cars with officers who accompanied the convoy. The Germans had uniforms with metallic plates on the breast. On their belts, it was written "God is with us". When the trucks arrived near the building which served as a slaughterhouse before the war, they stopped. Then I heard shouts. I knew there were Jews inside. The Germans formed a human corridor lane at the back of trucks, and forced the Jews to go inside the building.» (Eyewitness N°843, interviewed in Yelsk, on September 20, 2014).
Yelsk is a city 145 south-west of Gomel, which is a district center today. Before the war, there was a significant Jewish population. Most of the Jews were involved in trading. There was also a big synagogue. The city was occupied by German troops during summer 1941.
The events regarding the Jews in Yelsk during the war are essentially known thanks to the testimonies of witnesses recorded by Yahad.
Shortly after the arrival of the Germans, the local Jews of Yelsk were gathered over the course of approximately one month within the former komsomols building, then taken towards Kalinkovichi and Mozyr. Approximately two weeks after the departure of the Jews of Yelsk, the Jews of the nearby Jewish village of Skorodnoye were brought in several covered trucks by Germans, and were locked outside of the city inside the building which served as a slaughterhouse before the war. Windows had been enclosed in advance. Then, the Germans set fire to the building with petrol cans, and all the Jews were burned alive.
To learn more about the killings in Kalinkovichi please refer to corresponding profile
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