1 Execution site(s)
Emilia K., born in 1932: “The Jews were assembled somewhere in town then led away on foot. They were in columns, no more than five per row. They were surrounded by men with rifles. We couldn’t approach them, it was forbidden to give them water or food. They were shot close to the airfield in a deep pit that they dug themselves. After each shooting, another group of Jews came to cover the previous victims with a layer of earth and then were shot too. […] I was myself brought to the Borisov concentration camp known as “Kominterm” where there were several barracks. There were with the Belarusian prisoners alongside the Jewish prisoners. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire and each night, the “black crow” (gas van) came to kill people. Adults were forced to work and the children were forced to clean the place. There were lot of dead people in the camp. They died from disease and violence, or were simply shot. Germans liked to show us the bodies of those who died.” (Testimony N°1015B, interviewed in Borisov, on October 3, 2019)
“Request: Explain how the execution of the Jewish population in Borisov was organized and carried out.
Answer: At the end of August 1941, I received the order to create a camp for the Jewish population, a so-called “ghetto”. The Security Service (SD) and the mayor council organized it. […] In the second half of October 1941, I went to the camp, verified that everyone was in position and managed the direction of the trucks. […] The shooting was carried out that way. The people sentenced to death were brought by trucks or by foot to the graves that had been dug in advance. They were ordered to undress. Those who were able to undress themselves did it and those who were not were undressed by policemen. Children were undressed according to the value of their clothes. Some children yelled loudly, we threw them directly into the grave fully clothed. After the undressing, we led them in group to the graves. Anyone who tried to rebel was bitten. People who were shot fell into the grave. Parents held their children by their hands. Policemen threw some children in the grave and shot them. […] In just a few days, around 7000 people were shot.
[Deposition of Piotr K., born in 1878, given on July 28, 1944 to the Extraordinary State Commission; Fond 7021, Opis 87, Delo 3 and 4]
“It is true that the SK7b moved to Borisov during the retreat. I remember that in the outskirts of the city, in a forest, close to an ammunition warehouse, a mass grave was opened, in which there were around 200 bodies of Jews. The corpses were exhumed by 20 partisans and burned on a wooden pile. The Oberführer Borck oversaw this event. There was a surveillance commando composed of 20 men. I was myself on site with the gas van. […] After the cremation of the bodies, Borck gave the order to load the 20 partisans into the gas van, to kill them and to burn them on the wooden pile as well. The co-driver activated the gas device. Then the surveillance commando took out the bodies from the gas van and put them on the wooden pile.” [Deposition of Johann H., given in Lindau, on May 25,1962; Bundesarchiv Ludwigsburg BArch162-2265, p.116]
Borisov is located 75 km (47mi) northeast of Minsk. The first records of the Jewish community in the town date back to 16th or 17th century. Before 1793, Borisov was part of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the community was one of the wealthiest. The city later became part of the Russian empire and the Jewish community began to grow. There were seven synagogues, a Talmud-Torah school, and two private schools for Jews. The Bund and Zionist organizations became very active in the early 20th century. The Jews were mostly tailors, tradesmen and farmers. During the Soviet period, only the separate Jewish educational system survived. In 1939, 10,011 Jews lived in the city.
The city of Borisov was occupied by German forces on July 2, 1941. A month later, Germans killed a first group of 50 Jews. The Jews were subsequently forced to wear yellow signs on their chests and backs. At the same time, at the end of August 1941, a ghetto was created on Krasnodarmeyskaya and Slobodka streets. Jews were forced to move in these streets and were regularly robbed by the Germans. They were forced to hand over their valuables, gold and money. The 7, 8 and 9 October 1941, the ghetto was liquidated. 7000 persons were led 2 km away from the city, close to the airfield in the direction of Zembin. They were taken there on foot or in trucks and killed undressed in pits dug in advance. After the shooting, the Germans looted the victims’ belongings. This was organized by the SD Security Service and mostly carried out by local policemen. In October 1943, Operation 1005 took place and the SK7b used 20 partisan prisoners to open the mass graves, exhume the bodies and burn them. In addition, between July and September 1941, the Teilkommando Schönemann from EK8 killed thousands of Jews. They shot at least 8 groups of 450 Jews from the prison and two groups of 50 Jewish men from the ghetto in the military training area. Moreover, around 500 Jews, men, women, children, and elderly people were also shot at the same location. Finally, according to a testimony recorded on site by Yahad, some Jews were also locked up in the concentration camp “Kominterm-Lager” close to the “Profintern” paper factory, where, around 50,000 were detained during the occupation. Many of them died due to forced labor, inhumane living conditions, regular gas van killings and disease. Some of the people in the camp were also deported to another concentration camp in Minsk and then on to Auschwitz.
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