1 Execution site(s)
Viktor T., born in 1930: “Sometime after the occupation, I don’t remember exactly how much time had passed, the local Jews were gathered in a large shed located in the center of the village. There were not only local Jews but also those brought from the nearby villages.
YIU: What did this shed look like? Was it a single-story building?
W: It was a single-story building fenced in with barbed wire. It was guarded day and night. That’s what people told me because I didn’t live nearby. Our house was located about 1-2km away from that place. Some Jews would sneak out of the shed to go look for food. They would come to the local villagers and ask for food. We would give them what we had, even though back then we didn’t have much. While confined in the shed, they were taken to work. Every day, in the morning, those who were fit to work were escorted to the stone quarry where they had to break the stone. At the end of the day, they would come back to the shed.
YIU: Who would escort them to the quarry?
W: Police did.
YIU: Were they only men who were taken for work?
W: Yes, they were men. They would take a group of twenty men in good health. Those Jews who were too weak were shot occasionally.” (Witness n°2789U, interviewed in Berezdiv, on September 18, 2020)
“According to testimonies of eyewitnesses from the village of Dyakov and the [town of] Berezdov, on August 10, 1941, the Germans ordered the [Jewish] residents of the town of Berezdov to assemble under the pretext of being taken to repair roads. When the residents, carrying shovels and brooms, assembled, thinking that they would be taken for work, a German murder squad loaded them onto trucks (more than 5 trucks) and took them outside the town of Berezdov, to the tract area. There, they [Jews] dug a pit of the size that they had been told. Afterwards, the murder squad that had surrounded them opened fire on these civilians with rifles and sub-machine guns. Only one [Jew] remained alive. The murder squad also threw hand grenades at both the slightly and severely wounded and those who were lying in the pit. The local German authorities prohibited the residents from covering the mass grave, but instead made them level the ground and plant so no traces could be seen.” [Report drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) in, GARF 7021-64-794]
Berezdiv is located 135km (84mi) north of Khmelnytsky. The first record about the Jewish community goes back to the 17th century. In 1765, there were 49 Jewish households, and by 1897, the Jewish community grew to 1,319 members, comprising 50% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small-scale trade and handcraft. Many Jews were artisans, such as tailors, shoemakers, and carpenters . In the late 1920s a Jewish kolkhoz [collective farm] was created and many Jews were employed there, as private businesses were banned by the Soviet regime. According to the local witness, the chief of the kolkhoz, a man called Guilman, was Jewish . The Jewish community had three synagogues and a cheder, but they were closed in the 1930s. Between 1923 and 1939, there was a Jewish school. Although not all the Jews went to the Jewish school, some Jewish children studied at the Ukrainian school. On the eve of the war only 778 Jews lived in the village making up 25% of the total population.
Berezdiv was occupied by the Germans on July 9, 1941. About 20% of the prewar Jewish population managed to evacuate before the Germans’ arrival. The first execution was conducted one month later, on August 10, 1941, by the 1st SS Motorized Infantry Brigade. On this day, 152 Jewish men were taken outside the village towards the tract located 1km away from the Dyakiv village where they were shot to death. Apparently, some time afterwards, in late summer or early spring, a group of Jews, mainly women, children, and elder people, were shot to death near the village of Kutky. According to some sources there were about 200 in all.
In the beginning of 1942, a ghetto was created in a large shed in Berezdiv. The remaining local Jews, according to some sources there were about 400, as well as the Jews from the nearby villages were confined in this ghetto. For instance, 150 Jews were displaced here from Krasnostav in March 1942. According to the testimonies recorded by Yahad, the ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded. Those inmates who were fit to work were used as forced labor at the stone quarry. Those who were too weak to work were shot in the local Jewish cemetery. Between March and June 1942, about 60 Jewish forced laborers were shot to death. The shootings would be conducted regularly, as the Jews would be taken in small groups of five to ten people. The remaining Jews from the ghetto were displaced to Slavuta in June 1942, where they were eventually killed along with the local Jews in late June 1942. During the field research carried out by Yahad-In Unum, the research team located only one execution site, in the Jewish cemetery of Berezdiv.
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