Bogushevsk (Bahouchewsk) | Vitebsk

/ Nadezhda K., born in 1932: “The driver stopped the truck. I don’t know if it was a German or not. Our guard was German for sure. So we stopped there at the place where the Jews were executed.” ©Jordi Lagoutte/ The Yahad - In Unum The location of a defunct Jewish cemetery.  ©Jordi Lagoutte/ The Yahad - In Unum The Yahad - In Unum team with an eyewitness to the shooting.  ©Jordi Lagoutte/ The Yahad - In Unum The execution site of about 115 people, including 87 Jews and 28 non-Jews, murdered by Germans on September 5th, 1941   . ©Jordi Lagoutte/ The Yahad - In Unum The execution site of about 115 people, including 87 Jews and 28 non-Jews, murdered by Germans on September 5th, 1941   . ©Jordi Lagoutte/ The Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Bogushevsk

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Near the road
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
87

Witness interview

Nadezhda K., born in 1932: “YIU: Could you please tell us more about the day you saw Jews to be convoyed somewhere?
Witness: They were not convoyed, they were shot. I witnessed the shooting of Jews. There were five of us in the truck, and one German guard. The pit was dug along the road. I think it was close to the general store, and the police office was there…but you know, the road was moved aside since then. The driver stopped the truck. I don’t know if it was a German or not. Our guard was German for sure. So, we stopped there…It was horrible. They [Jews] were aligned along the pit. The shooting started, and they probably gave [us] an order to leave the place, we were in the open truck, you know…So we left, and they started to shoot with a machine-gun or sub-machine gun. We left, but we saw somebody falling...After, the truck did not come [to take us home] again, and we came back on foot. We could not ever find the way unless the oldest ones were among us, this Egor and others, because we did not know which way to take, and it was at night. He said ‘Let’s go over here, take this way, there are partisans here,’ and he brought us back home. My mother was crying; it was at night.” (Witness n°1037, interviewed in Bogushevsk, on October 30, 2019)

Soviet archives

“I know that under the German occupation, in October 1941 at 6 a.m., German soldiers collected all the men from the town of Bogushevsk and put them into a single line next to the office of the district executive committee. From this line the translator took three people and ordered them to be shot and they were shot. He said that the fate of the others would be determined when the commander of the city of Orsha arrived. Before the arrival of the commander, the line of men was surrounded by SS men and from all sides had machine-guns and automatic weapons aimed at them.
At 10 a.m., the commander of the city of Orsha, who had arrived in the town of Bogushevsk, ordered that all the Jews be put into that line. Several minutes later, the commander gave an additional order to the German translator to have all the Jews and some Russians put aside. Their total number was 64. Machine-gun fire was directed at that selected group of Jews and several Russians as a result of which all of them were shot to death. The rest of the Russian men were released by the German soldiers, except for 20, who were kept behind to taken care about the dead bodies.” [From the testimony given by a local resident Anton Sh., born in 1905, to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK), on March 29, 1945; GARF 7021-84-7]

Historical note

Bogushevsk is a small town located 42km (26 miles) north of Vitebsk. The first records about Jews go back to the late 18th century. By 1811, 144 Jews lived here. The majority of them were merchants or artisans, such as tailors and shoemakers.  During the early Soviet period, a Yiddish elementary school operated in the town. According to the local residents, there was a Jewish cemetery and a prayer house.  On the eve of the war, 569 Jews lived in the town comprising 17% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Bogushevsk was occupied by the Germans on July 10th, 1941. By that time, many Jews managed to flee. Although some sources mentioned the ghetto was created in the town, the field research conducted by Yahad could not confirm this information. The Jews continued to live in their homes until the first execution, which was conducted on September 5th, 1941 after a partisan action conducted against the Germans on the eve of September 5th was perpetrated. The reprisals against the Germans rounded-up 300 people on the main square. Under the order of a German commander, 87 Jews and 28 non-Jews were selected from the group and shot in the trench located near the district executive committee. On that day, 115 people were killed. After the war, the bodies were reburied at the territory of the Jewish cemetery. Today there is a monument at this place. The isolated shootings of the Jewish and non-Jewish population continued until the liberation of the town. According to the Soviet archives, in May 1942, a Jewish woman, Ms. Zaitseva, along with her two daughters, Dunia and Roza, were arrested at the house of a local lady from Ivanovo and were taken to be shot. According to the testimonies of the survivors, Yakov Krivosheyev was shot by the Germans on July 9th, 1943. He was buried along with the victims shot on September 5th, 1941.

A labor camp was established in the forest near Bogushevsk. About 12,000 inmates, the majority of whom were displaced from the Vitebsk camp, were detained there. The inmates were used for forced labor to construct defense fortifications as well as used as human shields in case of partisan attacks. 8,000 inmates were liberated by the Red Army while others were shot or died from hunger and diseases.

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