Borzęcin | Lesser Poland Voivodeship

Genowefa S., born in 1927, witnessed an execution of Roma as she followed her uncle who was requisitioned by a forest guard to dig the pit. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with a witness during an interview. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Genowefa S. with Yahad’s team reconstructing the crime scene. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The execution site was located in the middle of the forest. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The monument in memory of the 46 Roma murdered in the forest near Borzecin.  ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Roma in Borzęcin

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1939-1944
Number of victims :
46

Witness interview

Genowefa S., born in 1927: “Y.U.: Were there other men digging the pit besides your uncle and the forester?
Witness: No, the forester wasn’t there with us, he just gave them an order and left as he lived nearby. He was quite old back then so he’s dead now. My uncle and Mr. Sudut were the only ones to dig the pit. When my uncle finished digging, I got up and I saw this truck and those Gypsies surrounded by Germans. They were all next to the pit. Two Germans came out from the crowd, stood in front of those Gypsies and started to shoot them with machine-guns. They were falling down dead one by one and pushed each other straight into the pit. I started to cry because I was scared and my uncle told me not to be afraid and that we would go home soon. Once Germans finished the job, they threw the rest of the corps into the pit and my uncle and Mr. Sudut had to cover it with the soil using shovels. Then they put some sand and pine branches on top of it to hide the grave.
Y.U.: And how did your uncle and Mr. Sudut know the size of the pit?
Witness: I think the forester told them, he probably had all the measurements and maybe he was the one to decide the size and location of the pit.
Y.U.: And how was the pit marked out?
Witness: The pines were cut down to leave some open space as the forest was very dense and trees were growing very closely together. New trees grew in that place now, others were cut down. There were some changes during all those years.” (Witness n°219, interviewed in Borzęcin, on September 10, 2013)

Polish Archives

« During the occupation, I lived in Borzecin Dolny where I had an agricultural exploitation (I don’t understand this section- FE). At the end of August and early October 1942, while I was working on the exploitation, I noticed that policemen walking in the direction of my house. Fearing to be arrested, I ran away and hid. After my family told me that they wanted to requisition me to go with them to the forest, there was a group of Gypsies waiting. Afterwards, I found out that they wanted to requisition me to dig the pit for the Gypsies who they were about to shoot. Indeed, on this day the Gypsies were arrested by Gendarmerie and police in Wal-Ruda and brought to the Borzecin forest, where they were all shot dead. The eyewitnesses of the killing told me that 29 people of Roma identity were executed. The majority of the victims were young children. The described below action was conducted by a German gendarme Heczko, who during a long period of time made his service at police station in Borzecin (confusing again), also called Stützpunkt. I don’t have genealogical information about Heczko. I knew him by sight. Heczko was a tall man. He was about 30 years old. He was fair skinned. […] I don’t know where the Gypsies were from because they weren’t from Borzecin. There was no Sedentary Roma in our village. After the war, the authorities ordered the exhumation of the corpses. The victims’ remains were reburied at the cemetery of Borzecin.” [Deposition of Jan Wojdak, born in 1903, a farmer, given on October 16, 1969, regarding the shooting of 29 Gypsies in the village of Borzecin, in the frame of the investigation about the crimes committed by the Gestapo functionaries towards the population of Brzesko; Prosecutor Krakow/Brzesko/ DSC01977]

Historical note

Borzęcin is a village in Brzesko County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It is located 55 km (34 miles) east of Krakow. The first record about the village goes back to 1475. At the moment of the creation of the town all residents were Poles or Ukrainians. However, with time some Jews settled down in the town. In 1830s the majority of the inhabitants died due to a flood and the outbreak of cholera. There is no information on how many Jews lived in the village before the war. There were no Sedentary Roma living in the area. Borzęcin was occupied by Germans in September 1939.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

According to the Polish archives several executions of Roma people took place in the forest of Borzecin. The Roma victims were brought to the forest by truck and shot in the pits dug by the requisitioned locals. The first execution as conducted on October 4, 1942, during which 17 Roma was murdered. The second one was conducted in 1943, during which 29 Roma were murdered. The aktions were conducted by the Gestapo and German gendarmerie. According to local historians 143 residents were murdered in the death camps, including 43 Jews.

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