1 Execution site(s)
Piotr R., born in 1930: “They shot all the men first. Then, the women and children. The victims were taken to the shooting site in trucks. They were then lined up and shot in front of the pit. The bodies fell into it. As for the children, they were thrown alive into the pit. I saw it all. Later, I came back and even though the mass grave had been closed by some of the villagers, there was still blood leaking from it.” (Witness YIU/972B, interviewed on September 11, 2018 in Antopol)
“In Spring 1942, the entire Jewish population of more than 2,500 people was locked in a ‘ghetto’. The ghetto’s premises were surrounded by a 2,5m (6,5ft) high wooden fence with barbed wire on top, no one could freely walk out of this torture chamber. All who ended up in the ‘ghetto’ were exterminated by the Germans.
The mass shooting of the Jewish population was conducted by the Germans on November 15, 1942. The entire ghetto population was driven in vehicles to the First-of-May (Pervomaiskii) cemetery, 1 km east of Antopol, to three previously prepared mass graves. The shooting site was surrounded by police and gendarmes. The population was pushed in the graves, fully undressed, made to lie face down, alive, and shot with machine guns. The German executioners wearing rubber boots and gloves went into the graves and piled the bodies in tight rows, and immediately robbed the dead. They tore out golden teeth from mouths, took rings from fingers, if the rings did not slide off the fingers, they tore off the fingers too to take the rings. After the shooting the graves remained open for a long time and wild animals and birds scavenged on the bodies of the dead.” [Act n°1 drawn up on January 25, 1945; GARF 7021-83-8, p.5]
Antopol is located 80 km (50mi) east of Brest. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century. The number of Jews in Antopol increased significantly during the second half of the 19th century. In 1897, 3,137 Jews lived in Antopol making up 81% of the town’s total population. In the early 20th century, two movements, the Bund and the Zionists, were active. Between the two world wars, Antopol was part of Poland, but in September 1939, it was taken over by the Soviet Union following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. In 1921, 1,800 Jews lived in the town. The majority of them were merchants, artisans, and farmers. The community had a synagogue, a Tarbut school, a Talmud Torah, and a yeshiva. During the Soviet period, all the youth and political movements were forbidden, and Jewish educational institutions were closed.
Antopol was occupied by German forces on June 25, 1941. Shortly after the occupation all the Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing badges. A Jewish council and a police force were created. The first mass shooting was carried out on August 28, 1941, during which 257 victims, including Jews and non-Jews, were shot by the SS Order Police. In early October, about 150 Jewish men aged from 15 to 60, were first gathered in the school building, and then taken away under the pretext of forced labor, but in reality, they were murdered in the forest outside of Antopol. The remaining Jews were concentrated in a ghetto that was not totally closed. The ghetto population numbered circa. 2,500 inmates, including Jews brought in from the nearby villages of Gorodets, Zhabinka and others. Later the ghetto was divided into two parts, where the artisans and their families were separated from the others, ‘non useful’ for the Reich.
In early July or, according to some sources, on July 25, 1942, the inmates of ‘non useful’ ghetto were taken by force to the market square and from there to the railway station. There the Jews were put into freight cars into which Jews from other places had already been loaded. The victims were taken to Bronnaya Gora where they were murdered.
In late August 1942 or, according to some sources, on August 23, SS soldiers arrived at the ghetto and rounded up between 400 and 600 ghetto inmates. The victims were taken to an area 2 km from Zanivie village and shot in pits that had been prepared in advance. The Jews were shot, and their personal belongings were taken away. Other sources say the murder operation was carried out in a ravine near Bronna Góra village. The artisans and their families, who remained in the ghetto after the liquidation, were murdered on October 16, 1942. They were taken to cemetery located near today’s village of Pervomayk, where two large pits had been prepared.
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