Dyven (Diven) | Rivne

Mezhyrichi synagogue. Build in 1713, destroyed during WWII. © Taken from JewUA.org Mezhirech rope maker in 1912. © Taken from JewUA.org Mezhirech rope maker in 1912. © Taken from JewUA.org / Wooden chucrh in the village of Dyven ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Mykola K., born in 1929: “In groups of tens they were lined up at the edge of the ravine and a shooter fired with machine gun at their backs aiming the nape of the neck.” ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Vira O., born in 1933, saw the column of Jews being taken to the barn close to the shooting place.© Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Petro I., born in 1925: “"The length of the pit was about 10 meters. I was requisitioned with other boys by the police to fill in the pit, because the adults were too afraid”. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A former Jewish house in Velyki Mezhyrichi. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A former mill which used to belong to a Jewish family. Velyki Mezhyrichi, 2012 ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Fedir M., born in 1911: “It was simple to establish the ghetto because all Jews lived in the center”. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Nona M., born in 1931, remembered that the ghetto was not fenced in, but it was guarded at night. The Jews couldn’t leave their houses. It was forbidden.  ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Anna I., born in 1920, remembered that the Germans were drinking during the execution: “Many Jews fell in the pit alive or wounded, because they were so drunk that they didn’t aim well.”  ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team reconstructing the crime scene with the witness on the shooting site of over 1,800-1,900 Jews in Dyven. ©Aleksey Kasyanov-Yahad-In Unum The shooting site of over 1,800-1,9000 Jews in Dyven. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews from Velyki Mezhyrichi in Dyven

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Sand quarry close to the brickyard (1);Garden(2)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
1,800-1,9000

Witness interview

Fedir A., born in 1911, remembered: “When the Germans started to take the Jews to the ghetto, the family of Naftul decided to hide. Their house was located at the bottom, a little away from others. There was an ancient abandoned house further on the way. This house was ruined and invaded by weeds. The nurseries dug a tunnel under their stables until the abandoned house. They created a hut under this house and three families of Naftul, his brothers and sisters with their children hid in this hut. They took a kerosene stove and a small pan that caused their loss afterwards. They stayed in their hidden place eight or nine days. They dug holes in the ground and put the ventilation system there to have some air in the hut. One day they were about to cook something, it was in the morning. They had to do it early when people were sleeping… So they cooked and the smoke of their pan went out by the holes in the ground. The man was passing nearby when he noticed the smoke going out from the ground, he was curious and he stopped. Other people joined him; they didn’t understand why the smoke went out from the ground. Once the Germans saw these people, they got closer and finally they found the underpass. They made these three families go out, took them with their children on the carts to be shot…” (Testimony n°1421, interviewed in Velyki Mezhyrichi, on April 10th, 2012)

Soviet archives

"At the exit of the village of Dyven, on the territory of the former brickyard, in June 1942, the German-fascist invaders conducted a massive shooting of innocent Soviet citizens, who were escorted in groups to pits dug in advance. […] We supposed that about 3,600 people were shot in four pits. The victims were shot inside the pit, with the automatic weapon at the nape of the neck." [Act drawn up in 1944 by State Extraordinary Commission; RG-22.002M: Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 58]

Historical note

Dyven is located 38km east of Rivne.  Back then Dyven was a small hamlet and no Jews lived in it. The majority of Jews lived in the nearby village of Velyki Mezhyrichi, located 3km away.  The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the second part of the 16th century. In 1784 there were 295 Jews living in the village and by 1897 it increased up to 2,107 and represented about 67 of the total population.  At the beginning of the 20th century, five synagogues functioned there. In 1908 a school, with Hebrew classes was opened. However, according to the local witnesses many Jewish children, especially girls, went to the Polish school.  After the pogrom organized in August 1919, the Jewish population dropped. In 1921, 1,743 Jews lived in the village. The majority of Jews lived off small business and handcraft.  There were four bakeries, four restaurants, and a slaughter house. Mezhyrichi is known for its strong Hasidism movement, headed by the Baal Shem Tov until his death in 1761, and then by the Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber. In 1939, the village was taken over by Soviets as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement.  From September 1939, the Jewish school and other working institutions were closed.   On the eve of the war there were about 3,000 Jews living there. The Germans occupied the village on July 6, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The first year after the Germans’ arrival, the Jews continued to live in their houses; however they were all marked with yellow Stars of David. They were subjected to lootings, abuses and were also forced to perform different kind of forced labor. The Ukrainian police and Jewish council were established. The first Aktion was conducted on May 22, 1942 by an SD unit that arrived from Rivne assisted by the German Gedarmerie, a unit of Police Reserve Bataillon and local Ukrainian police. During this Aktion about 1,000 Jews were taken to the sand quarry, located close to Dyven.  Shortly after this Aktion, an opened ghetto was created and existed for several months. It remained opened but was guarded by the police. On September 26, 1942, 800 to 900 remaining Jews from the ghetto were murdered.  The field research conducted by Yahad-In Unum established more details about the execution of Jews. First of all, the pits were dug by the Jews themselves. There were about 200 men and women forced to dig four pits during three days. During all this time, they were locked in the barn located nearby at night. According to the eyewitnesses of the shooting, the Jews were shot in small groups inside the pit. The Germans were drinking and eating while conducting the shooting.

Yahad-In Unum could also identify another execution site of an isolated shooting. Supposedly, one Jewish woman was kept by the German Kommandant as a comfort girl in his manor, but at the end she was shot dead and buried in the garden close to the school.  As a result of the research, we can say that the number of victims provided by Soviet archives is an overestimate. In all, about 1,800 to 1,900 Jews were murdered in Dyven.

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