Dunayivtsi (Dunaivtsi) | Khmelnytskyi

Photo of Dunayivtsi by Pavel Zholtovskiy and Stefan Taranyshenko in the 1920s-1930s. ©Taken from Jewua.org Photo of Dunayivtsi by Pavel Zholtovskiy and Stefan Taranyshenko in the 1920s-1930s. ©Taken from Jewua.org / / A postwar photograph of an exhumation process at the sand quarry located next to the forest, where two mass graves are located.  ©Photo taken from a local museum in Balyn/Yahad – In Unum Maria R., born in 1930, saw the execution of 13 Jewish women and a man from a distance. One of the women was a schoolteacher, Riva, the daughter of Samuil. The man’s name was Kolia [Nikolay] Fishbai. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Bohuslav N., born in 1928: “The Germans rounded up 700 Jews from Demyankivtsi and took them to the mine where the water rose up to their knees. The entrance was then blown up, and Jews suffocated inside." ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Petro R., born in 1923: “There were twenty Jews working at the railway station. They were arrested and hung on the following day. Their bodies remained hanging for two weeks.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad – In Unum team during research carried out in 2008. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad – In Unum team during research carried out in 2020. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The streets of the former ghetto created in a Jewish area. Jews who lived outside this area were forced to move in, except for the artisans who continued to live in their homes. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The streets of the former ghetto created in a Jewish area. Jews who lived outside this area were forced to move in, except for the artisans who continued to live in their homes. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A drone view at the former Jewish area where the ghetto was created shortly after the occupation. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A drone view at the former Jewish area where the ghetto was created shortly after the occupation. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A synagogue was located at this site. Today, not much remains of it. Not far away from here, 19 Jewish men were hung on posts. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Halyna P., born in 1932 : “After the mass execution at the sand quarries some Jews remained hiding. Once, I saw five or six people being taken to the stone quarry by the police, where they were shot on the ground without even being buried.” ©Les Kasyanov/ Bohdan P., born in 1927: “The Jewish were shot in the sand quarries. Before being shot they were forced to dig their own grave.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Nadia M., born in 1931: “All the Jews were confined into the ghetto which was fenced in with barbed wire. They were all marked with yellow patches on the chests and backs. So they were easily identified.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The burial place of a group of Jews shot in October 1942. Today the site is fenced in and has a memorial. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A drone view at the locations of the killing sites in Dunayivtsi. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The first mass grave located in the forest west of Dunayivtsi where, according to the archives, circa. 2,000-3,000 Jews were murdered in October 1942. ©Les Kasyanov/Fahad – In Unum The location of the second mass grave in the forest. In this mass grave disabled people of different nationalities were shot. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The memorial to the 19 Jews hanged at Bazarnaya Square in Dunayivtsi. Their bodies were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Sichyntsi. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A drone view of the Jewish cemetery in Sichyntsi where 19 Jews were hanged at Bazarnaya Square in Dunayivtsi were buried. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Dunayivtsi

5 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Phosphor mine (1); Solonynchyk Sand quarry (3)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 5,000 and 8,000
Witnesses interviewed:

Witness interview

Bohuslav N., born in 1928: "I will give you an example. A [Jewish] family was brought here. They passed by the factory, and I was there at that moment. There were two young boys, the elderly parents, a girl and a little girl of about 8 years old. There was already some snow on the ground. Maybe they were the son and daughter with their parents, and their little girl. I don’t know. But this one [the boy], I remembered how he was crying! I remember it like it was yesterday! He was crying, taking snow, eating it and screaming! There, there was Vais Street. They were taken by this street and killed [near Solonyntchyk]. And we saw all this! Two Schutzmanns made them undress and shot them in the head. That was it! There wasn’t even a pit. Today there is nothing there! This is what we saw. I will now tell you another case. At that time, I was working in the taproom, I had been hired by an employment agency. I was 14 years old and at that age they were hiring [young people to send them] to Germany! So as not to be sent for forced labor in Germany, I started working at this factory. The working day started at 6 a.m. and lasted until 6 p.m., Saturday until 1 p.m. and Sunday was a day off. We were paid very little, but we had to work very hard! Not far from here, the Germans were building an asphalt road. The road must have been paved. There was a big drum for melting the tar. The work was done 24 hours, day, and night, so that we could come early in the morning and continue constructing the road. So, three Jews worked there. I didn’t see how it all happened, but I saw the state they were in afterwards. You know, the Germans did whatever they wanted! So, one day when we arrived at the entrance of the site, we saw these three Jews walking. One of them was wearing a hat and the other two were wearing caps. [We saw that] the tar was running under their hats like this (the witness shows how the tar was running). It turns out that the Germans had arrived very early in the morning and found them [the Jews] sleeping. Then, they put ladle of boiling tar in their caps and forced the Jews to put it on their heads.” (Witness n°604U, interviewed in Dunayivtsi, on May 24, 2008)

Soviet archives

“[…] In mid-February 1942 I and nine other men from the Dunayevtsy auxiliary police were sent to attend [police] courses. These courses took place in the town of Dunayevtsy. Around February 28, 1942, during the morning, Push, the head of the Dunayevtsy regional gendarmerie came to us with a translator and ordered all policemen participating in the course to line up. When we were all lined up, Push counted 20 of us from the right flank and took us to the police building, where he explained that that day, we were to hang 20 Jews on Torgovaya [Bazarnaya] Square.
Question: Did Push, the head of the gendarmerie, tell those of you who were present why he had decided to hang 20 Jews?
Answer: No, he didn’t explain this to us.
Question: Please continue your account.
Answer: After that Push, the head of the gendarmerie, [ordered] the assistant head of the auxiliary police to take 20 of the detained Jews from the prison and bring them to the detention area that was located 10 meters from the police station. Immediately after all the arrested persons were taken to the police station, their hands were tied and, in groups of three, they were taken to Torgovaya [Bazarnaya] Square. When the detainees’ hands were tied, Push, the head of the gendarmerie, gave us rope for the hanging and we took the prisoners to Bazarnaya Square. During the hanging, the victims begged for their lives, pleading to be let go. I now recall that when one of the Jews was taken to the gallows, he said: "Long live Comrade Stalin! Down with Fascism! Long live the International!"
Question: How many people did you yourself hang on this occasion?
Answer: On that occasion I personally hanged 2 people. I will now tell in detail what happened: the 20 auxiliary policemen were ordered to hang 19 people, one victim per policeman. When I took my victim to the telegraph pole, he began begging for his life, asking me to have mercy on him. When he was approaching the stool that was standing next to his rope and he foresaw his imminent death and began to resist, not wanting to climb up onto the stool. With the other policemen, I took him under the armpits and put him on the stool by force. Then I placed the noose around his neck, tightened it, and pushed the stool from under his feet. That’s how this victim was hanged.” [From the interrogation of Ivan Zh., born in 1904, a member of the Ukrainian auxiliary police, Report of the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (CHGK) from May 21, 1944; GARF 7021-64-798]

Historical note

Dunayivtsi is located 68 km (42mi) southwest of Khmelnytskyi. The first record of the Jews dates back to the first half of the 17th century. The community was almost entirely annihilated during the 1648 pogroms. By 1897, the community had been rebuilt and numbered 5,198 individuals, making up 66% of the total population. At this time, the community had 11 synagogues and a cemetery. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handicraft, such as tailoring and shoe making. In 1910, the Jewish population comprised 70% of the town’s total population. In 1906, local Jews owned two printing presses, a leather factory and a few cloth factories, as well as shops, warehouses, hotels, pharmacies, a book shop, and a photography studio. Under Soviet rule at the end of 1920s, private businesses were closed, and most local Jews shifted to work in cooperatives and state-owned small factories. Many Jews moved to bigger towns. Two Jewish kolkhozes [collective farms] were created in Dunayivtsi in the 1920s. In 1925, 212 Jewish families moved to the Crimea in the framework of creation of the Jewish agricultural colonies with the help of JOINT. One the eve of the war in 1939, 4,478 Jews lived in the town comprising 68% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Dunayivtsi was occupied by German forces on July 10-11, 1941. By that time only a small percentage of Jews had managed to evacuate. Shortly after the occupation, the entire Jewish community was registered and forced to move into an open ghetto that was fenced in with barbed wire from the spring of 1942. The ghetto spread from the marketplace towards the local pond. Any Jews who lived outside of the ghetto area were forced to move in. Alongside the Jews from Dunayivtsi, Jews from nearby villages were also brought to the Dunayivtsi ghetto. For example, in late May 1942, the Jews from Balyn, Velikyi Zhvanchyk, Zynkiv, Smotrych, Shatava were interned in the ghetto. Inmates were subjected to different kinds of forced labor, from cleaning to road construction. They were also forced to break the tombstones from the Jewish cemetery that were used to pave the roads. The Jews were often abused while performing forced labor. According to an eyewitness interviewed by Yahad, three Jewish men were had hot tar poured on them because they fell asleep at work. A Jewish council (Judenrat) was created as well as the local police. In February or March 1942, after being accused of abandoning their work at the Dunayivtsi train station, 19 Jews were hanged on the town’s main street by local policemen following an order by the German administration. Their bodies remained hanging for two weeks. Today, the remains are buried at the Jewish cemetery in Sichyntsi, located southwest of Dunayivtsi. On May 8, or, according to other sources, in April 1942, the Jews were assembled at the former Machine-Tractor Station, MTS, yard. After a selection, circa. 2,000-2,300 Jews, mainly women, children, and the elderly, were taken to the site of the former phosphorus mine located 4 km away, close to the village of Demiankivtsi. Once there, the victims were forced into the mine and the was blown up so that nobody could get out. All the victims suffocated to death. Before being forced into the mine, the Jews had to strip naked. On October 19, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto took place. That day, circa. 2,000-3,000 Jewish inmates were taken outside the town and shot to death in the sand quarry located next to Solonynchyk forest, located close to the village of Chankiv. Some children were not shot but thrown into the pit alive. At the taken time, 78 disabled people from the Kryvchyk hospital were brought to the Solonynchyk forest and shot in a second pit located next to the first where the Jews had been shot earlier that day. The Gebietskommissar [regional commissar] Eduard Eggers was in charge of these three murder operations. The executions were conducted by the Gestapo who arrived from Kamianest-Podislky while the local police were in charge of the round-up and guarding the victims.


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