2 Execution site(s)
Vasyl Ya., born in 1926: “It was in the summer of 1941, but I don’t remember when exactly. I remember that the Jews were ordered to leave their homes and assemble on the street. About thirty Germans, from a special punitive unit, gathered them. They were all dressed in black and came for this Aktion on purpose. The Germans were not stationed here. Besides them, there were two local policemen. Once the Jews were removed from their homes, including the children and the elderly, they were taken outside the village towards the execution site located in a sand quarry. I believe it was the local police who showed the Germans that location. I was curious about what was happening, so together with my friend, we followed the column. The Germans chased us away, but we continued following them to the site. Once there, we hid in the bushes and watched the execution from about 50-100m.” (Witness n°2830U, interviewed in Babchyntsi, on October 28, 2020)
“On July 22, 1941, in the village of Babchintsy I [Note: modern-day Babchyntsi], a German punitive detachment shot 26 people and 110 of their dependents [children, the elderly, etc.]. It was determined that the same unit shot ten officers and 90 soldiers of the Red Army whose corpses were gathered and buried at the cemetery of Babchintsy I. The victims were not identified.” [Act drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on November 28, 1944, in Babchintsy I; GARF: 7021-54-1255]
"Our EK12 [Einzatzkommando 12], under the orders of section chief K., was housed [in Babchintsy] in a stone building. The SD men, under the direction of the Obersturmführer D., were housed in the same building with us. I am aware of two shootings conducted in this locality. One was carried out near our headquarters; another one happened outside the town. The police and the SD men conducted the executions. Regarding the small execution conducted near the building where we stayed, I can’t tell you anything because I was not there [at the moment of the shooting].
During the largest execution, conducted outside the locality, our Kommando [unit] was mobilized to complete the shooting and secure the cordon along with SD men. About 30-40 people were subsequently shot. I would not be able to say if they were Jews. Our unit came to the shooting site on foot. Some SD men arrived by car. We had to bring the victims with two other SD men, whose names I don’t remember anymore, to the outskirts of the town towards the execution site, located on clean land. It was located about 2km away from the locality. The natural pits crossed the pristine land. There were bushes as well. Besides that, the natural pit was deepened on the execution site. When we arrived at the execution site with the victims, the newest were regrouped and shot on the edge of the prepared pit. It was a fast execution; we fired only twice or three times. During this execution, we, the police, fired at the victims under the order given by an SD chief, but I don’t remember anymore if it was D.
I have been asked, but I can’t say that it was a wild execution because everything had been prepared in advance. A report was read to us saying that the victims of the Babchintsy execution were responsible for the deportation of several residents to Siberia as a result of denunciation. As we weren’t told before the execution, I had no idea who the condemned people were. (…) There were no militiamen [note: reference to the polizei] present at the execution. The execution lasted for one hour. I remember that the executed people were covered with soil by the civilians. At least, it was not us who took care of that. (…) I think there were only men among the shot victims. During the execution in Babchintsy, the condemned people were shot completely dressed. (…)." [Deposition made by an Einsatzkommando 12-member, Hermann S., in Berlin on November 13, 1961; BArch B162-1149]
Before the war, Babchyntsi was divided into two locations, Babchyntsi I and Babchyntsi II, located 111km (69mi) southwest of Vinnytsia. Not much is known about the prewar Jewish community. According to historical information, Jews first settled in Babchyntsi in the mid-18th century. The community suffered greatly from the attacks during the Civil War in 1919-1921. The majority of the Jewish community made their living from small-scale trade and the tobacco industry. Some were artisans, such as tailors or shoe and hat makers. In the 1920s, a synagogue was built, and the community opened a four-year Yiddish school. During the Soviet period, many Jews moved out of the village looking for better lives and economic stability. About 50 Jews moved to the Kherson region to the newly created agricultural colony, "New Life." On the eve of the war, 192 Jews lived in the village, making up just 3% of the total population.
Babchyntsi was occupied by Romanian forces, followed by the Germans, on July 20, 1941. According to different archives and the testimonies of the survivors and bystanders interviewed by Yahad-In Unum, the Jewish community was murdered in two different aktions. The first took place on July 22, 1941, and the second in mid-August 1941. Some sources claim that the second shooting was conducted over several days. From the German archives, we know that the executions were carried out by the SD and members of Einzatzkommando 12 of Einsatzgruppe D. According to the witness interviewed by Yahad, a couple of local policemen took an active part in the shooting at the sand quarry. Although the primary information addressing these shootings is the same in all the sources, the details of how the perpetrators carried it out are different, including the number of the victims. According to the Soviet archives and the testimonies of the witnesses recorded by Yahad-In Unum, 136 Jews were murdered during the first shooting on July 22, 1941. Witness n°2829U states that approximately one hundred of the victims were local Jews, while 30 to 40 additional victims were brought from Chernivtsi. Before the shooting, the local Jews were gathered close to a stable located near the hospital. Once the Jews were assembled, they were shot in the pit that was dug in advance. According to the same witness, also an eyewitness to the shooting, the pit was about 15m long. Several Jews warned by the local police managed to escape from their confinement before the execution. Several days after the shooting, some of the victims were exhumed and reburied at the cemetery by family members.
The second execution occurred in August 1941. During this aktion, approximately 80 Jews were arrested in their homes and taken to the sand quarry, 2km away from the village. The victims were shot in small groups at the edge of the quarry. According to witnesses, a couple of days after the first shooting, between August 20 and August 23, those Jews who had managed to hide were caught and shot at the same location. The number of estimated victims ranges from about 80, according to German records, to about 140, according to Soviet sources. According to the field research, both figures are correct as they consider two different executions conducted in two separate locations.
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