1 Execution site(s)
Maria L., born in 1929, remembers : “With my friend, I went towards the school and I saw that the Jews were not there anymore. On the road, there were lots of belongings and clothes everywhere. We followed the road and we met Germans who said "Juden kaput!" They were laughing. They had skulls on their military caps. We went up to the place of the shooting, which was in an antitank trench. The pit was not completely filled. There were bodies arranged all along the trench. I was even able to see the body of one of my school friends. It was very sad.” (Witness N°810, interviewed in Buda-Kochelevo on June 19, 2014).
Buda-Kochelyovo is a small city situated 50 km northwest of Gomel. According to the 1939 census, there were 496 Jews living in the city, making up nearly 15 percent of the total population. The city was known for its Jewish kolkhoze, about 50 Jewish families worked there. There was also a synagogue. Before the German occupation in the middle of August 1941, many refugees from western Belarus came to settle in the city.
On October 26, 1941, the Germans established a ghetto. All the Jews had to move into the school building. The Jews were not fed, so they had to cope on their own. They were also regularly humiliated by local policemen.
On December 27, 1941, the top policemen from Gomel came to the school in vehicles. The police separated the men from the women. The Jews were searched and all their belongings, including their clothing, were confiscated. The men were gathered in a room in which the windows were closed in an attempt to suffocate them.
On December 28, 1941, the policemen lined up the Jews in a column and led them to an antitank ditch between the city and the village of Krasnyi Kurgan behind the Machine Tractor Station (MTS). The Jews had to undress. The men were shot at first and they had to lie face-down in the pit. The Jews were shot by the Germans, in groups, with a single shot in the head. The next victims were shot on top of the bodies of the first group.
Then, the women, elderly people, and children were shot. On that day, 483 people were murdered. The bodies inside the pit were covered with snow. In the spring, local villagers covered them with soil.
After the extermination of the Jews, the Jews’ personal belongings were sold in a store in the city.
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