2 Execution site(s)
Eva Ya., born in 1928, was taken to the ghetto by mistake: “ I was hiding in the basement of my aunt’s house. Then Lukash, the executioner, came to her house and saw my coat that my aunt had thrown on the potatoes. I didn’t have time to take my coat with me when I was hiding. I was crawling through the tunnel to the basement. He started to ask whose coat it was. And they found me; they took me in a car to the Kirovsk prison. I remember, they threw me like a ball from one side to another. Then, I was brought to the Bobruisk ghetto. In the ghetto people lived with their families. The place where the ghetto was located was called “Yeloviki”. There were small houses.” (Testimony N°698, interviewed in Kirovsk, on July 20, 2013)
“I witnessed the shootings from the very beginning when they just started. It was during autumn 1941 when a covered truck stopped near our house and the Germans forced the civilians to get out of the truck. When everybody got down, they shot them. These shootings were perpetrated every day, in the early morning and at night, and lasted during the years 1941, 1942 and 1943. The graves were located 1 km from Bobruisk. There were 50 graves 30 meters long, 5 meters wide and 5 meters deep.” [Deposition of witness, taken on May 26, 1945, by the State Extraordinary Commission. RG22.022M/7021/82-1]
“In Bobruisk, there were 12,000 to 15,000 Jews who were shot. On the first day of the Aktion, 2,500 Jews were shot, including men, women and children. I assisted this execution along with other officers. We received an order to assist with this execution by a circular or a phone call. It was in April or May 1942 and it began at 6 o’clock in the morning. It lasted the whole day with some interruptions because some shooters went crazy and needed to be replaced. The convicted people were brought on foot to the site. They were forced to dig the pits themselves, about 10 to 15. And then, in groups they got inside the pit where they had to kneel down and then they were shot with an automatic gun on the nape of the neck. Then, we poured out the lime and another group got inside the pit and kneeled down in a line.” [Deposition of a civil administration officer Reinhold G. made on April 24, 1959 in Munich; B162-3337, p.6]
Bobruisk is located 110km southwest of Mogilev. Since 1795 it has been a regional center. The first records about the Jewish community date back to the end of the 16th century. In 1789, 281 Jews lived in the town. The number of Jews increased and reached 29,704 by 1892. In 1923, the Jews represented 54 percent of the total population. In 1910, there were 32 synagogues, several cheders, several Jewish colleges, a Jewish hospital, a library and a cemetery. The majority of Jews were merchants and lived off of small scale trade. From the end of 19th century, the Jews were engaged in logging and selling wood to the southern regions of Russia. Many Jews worked at the numerous small factories that operated in the town, such as a glass factory. At the beginning of 20th century, a Jewish publishing house was opened in Bobruisk. In 1920-1922, the Jews suffered from two pogroms. As a result many Jews were killed and their houses and shops were looted. In 1930’s, the synagogues and other religious institutions were closed. Due to migration, the Jewish population dropped to 35 percent of the total population. In 1939, only 26,703 lived in the town. The Germans occupied Bobruisk on June 28, 1941.
Immediately after the Germans arrived, all Jews were registered and marked with yellow distinguishing badges in form of the Star of David. All of their valuables, including fur coats and money, were confiscated by Germans. The Judenrat (Jewish council) and local Belarussian police were created. The ghetto was created rather quickly, within the first month of the occupation. The inmates of the ghetto were forced to perform different kinds of labor, such as railroad construction, and were subjected to regular abuses, robbery, and rape. Many Jews were shot randomly inside the ghetto. By December 1941, all of the Jews were exterminated.
The first execution was conducted in late September or early October 1941 by Einsatzkommando 8. In the course of several executions, about 2,205 Jews were killed in the town and nearby areas. The biggest mass execution was conducted in September by an SS unit. During this Aktion, about 7,000 Jews were killed at the airfield. On November 7-8, 1941 (according to some sources it started on November 6), during the liquidation of the ghetto, 5,281 Jews from the ghetto were taken by truck to the Kamenka village, located 9km away, where they were shot in three mass graves dug in advance by prisoners of war. Before the shooting they were forced to disrobe. The shooting was conducted by Einsatzkommando 8 and a police battalionassisted by local police. On December 30, 1941, over 2,500 Jews, including the craftsmen who were purposely left alive and the Jews who attempted to hide, were taken in trucks to the killing site and murdered.
In order to hide the evidence of the crimes, the Germans conducted Operation 1005, in which all of the remains of Jews victims were burned from fall 1943 until January 1944.
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