1 Execution site(s)
Nadezhda Y., born in 1927: "YIU: Were they opened or canvas covered trucks?
W : They were canvas covered trucks. Once they opened them the Jews jumped out of the trucks.
YIU: Was there only one truck or many?
W: There were many. The trucks weren’t big but the pit was big. There were two pits, one close to another.
YIU: How many trucks were there?
W: I don’t remember that anymore. I was just a child back then. Once one truck left another one arrived, and so on.
YIU: Those who were taking pictures, were they in trucks or on the ground?
W: They were behind the guards and they took pictures with flashes. But I can say it only now analyzing from what I have seen because back then I didn’t understand what was happening. There were cameras’ noises and we could see light, so I supposed they lighten the scene to make their pictures to rapport how many Jews they killed.
YIU: Did they take pictures of the trucks or the Jews?
W: They started to take pictures when the trucks arrive. They took pictures of people who were jumping from the truck. That is how I understand it today, but back then we didn’t understand anything. We didn’t understand what they were taking pictures, what for.
YIU: Did you see the cameras that they used to take pictures or just flashes?
W : We saw only flashes. It is now I understand that they were taking pictures, back then I thought they lighting the way so they didn’t stumble over.” (Testimony N°269, interviewed in Novaya Mych, on March 30, 2010)
" Serafima Yudkevich, a shooting survivor from Lesnaya, told : « on May 13, 1942, we were taken by truck outside of Lesnaya. We were 42 in total. When the truck stopped near the pit we understood that we would be shot. Among us, there were 19 children aged from 3months to 7 years. A German called Robert who was in charge of the execution ordered mothers to put their babies at the edge of the pit and to stand nearby. When the men and women without children were shot, the Germans, under the order of Robert, slowly pushed the babies inside the pit with their bayonets, and then shot their mothers. […]
From the end of 1943, the successful attacks of the Red Army pushed the Germans to erase the traces of their crimes in the region of Baranovichi. Different techniques were used for this purpose: crematorium furnace to burn the bodies, opening the mass graves and [illegible]”. [Act drawn on January 1st, 1945 by State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK); RG-22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 81, Delo 102]
« One day, about 3,000 Czech Jews arrived on the platform behind Novyye Baranovichi. All the Jews were very well dressed and in a good mood. The big number of wagons was escorted by the employees of the check railway and a few Gestapo soldiers. At the rear of the train there were several wagons with the passengers’ luggage. Once the train stopped, they were told that they breakfast would take place soon. They accepted that as a matter of course. The trucks arrived and everyone, even the members of the check railway, boarded on trucks. Then, the vehicles left. The big doors which would close hermetically were located under the vehicles. All that was organized by the Gestapo from Baranovichi that took away the newcomers, Jewish Czech intelligentsia, among whom doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, professors, lawyers and rabbis with their families. They were taken to the forest “Gay”, located behind Novyye Baranovichi, north east of the lake of Zhlobin. Once there, the pits have been dug in advance. Upon their arrival the Jews had to undress, gather their belongings, and after they were shot at the edge of the pit. The hermetically closed vehicles brought already dead victims. There was no need to shoot them. Blood was streaming from some victims’ noses and mouths. As well in this case the murderers didn’t retrieve the clothing. The Czech Christian employees of the railway were shot as well. They didn’t want to leave any witness of the crime alive. The Belarusian police were used for the first time for this kind of job. The previous aktions were carried out by the Lithuanian auxiliary police. Not far away from the pit there were tables with the bottles of vodka and other alcohol on them. “At the beginning it was horrible for us, but with time we got used to that and it didn’t bother us anymore”, -declared one of the participants, a Belarusian policeman from the Gestapo of the Koldychevo camp. In the evening, the commandant of the Koldychevo camp gathered all the Jews of the camp and asked for volunteers to go for work in Baranovichi. He chose eight Jews, gave the shovels and forced them onto the vehicles which took them from Baranovichi to the forest, called “Gay”. Once on the site, they had to fill in the pit where the Czech Jews had been shot, and at the end they were shot as well.” [Written by F.Grelka, Commemorative Book of Baranovichi; Bundesarchiv Ludwigsburg B162-3408]
Baranovichi is located 150km south west of Minsk. The first records about the Jewish community in the town dates back to the end of 19th century. In 1921 about 60% of the population was Jewish (6,605 Jews). The Jewish community was very prosperous and lived off small scaled trade, light industry and lumber business. There was a Jewish hospital. In the period between the two World Wars, from 1920 to 1939, Baranovichi was under Polish rule. In that period it became a center of Chasidic rabbis. There were at least ten synagogues, Yiddish and Hebrew schools as well as two Yeshivot. However, once it was taken over by Soviet Union as a result of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in September 1939, all the religious movements were forbidden. On the eve of the war about 12,000 Jews lived in Baranovichi.
The town of Baranovichi was occupied by German sources on June 27, 1941. Straight after the Germans’ arrival 73 Jews alleged of being communists were murdered. According to the local witnesses a fenced in ghetto was created a couple of weeks after the occupation, contrary to the historical sources that claim that the ghetto was established only in mid-December. We believe that at the beginning not all the Jews lived inside the ghetto, but only some, and only in December was the ghetto was fenced in completely with barbed wire and guarded by local police. By then it numbered about 10,000 Jews. All the detainees fit to work were subjected to perform different kind of forced labor for different offices, for instance work on military bases of Luftwaffe, contusions sites for Todt, the railway, the construction of the Koldychevo concentration camp, working in workshops and cleanings.
The first mass execution was conducted on March 5, 1942. After the selection and division on able and unable to work, about 2,000 Jews from the ghetto were taken by truck to the nearby crossroads and shot dead. The aktion was conducted by German police and Lithuanian auxiliary unit.
According to the archives, at the end of June some 3,000 Check Jews were brought to Baranovichi and killed in the forest called Gay. In August of 1942 a group of 654 Jews were sent to Molodechno to perform labor. Most probably they were shot there along with local Jews. An underground movement was created in late spring and numbered about 200 members. After several fails to make an uprising, the group was dismissed and many of them joined the partisans. From September 22 to October 2 several Aktions were conducted. During the biggest one, according to different sources, about 6,000 Jews were murdered on September 22, 1942. About 6000 Jews were shot or suffocated in gas vans during this period.
The liquidation, during which some 3,000 Jews were killed, took place on December 17, 1942. The remaining Jews, mostly skilled workers, were kept until fall 1943. At the end of 1943, the Germans decided to erase all the traces of the crime carrying out the Aktion1005 in the Baranovichi district. Only 250 Jews managed to survive until July 1944 when the territory was liberated by the Red Army.
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