Feodosiya (Feodosia) | Crimea

/ The poster ordering the registration of the entire Jewish population in Feodosiya.© Taken from old-museum.org Tamara L., born in 1927 © Mona Oren/Yahad-In Unum The execution sites of the Feodosiya Jews, located close to the road Feodosiya –Simferopol. Back then, there were anti-tank ditches where the Jewish victims were shot from December 1941 to 1943. © Mona Oren/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Feodosiya

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Anti-tank trenches
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Up to 2,000

Witness interview

Aleksandra Ch., a Karaite, born in 1925: «We lived separately from others during the war. We had Karait neighborhood. We had our own kenassa [synagogue].
YIU: Which language did you speak at home?
W: We spoke Russian and Tatar. We didn’t know Karaite language. […]
YIU: What happened to the Jews when the German arrived?
W: The Karaites had a chance to survive, because we were not regarded as Jews. Others were executed. It was horrible. We were very scary. They arrived by truck. They started executing the entire Jewish families, one by one. They were taken by truck to the trenches outside the town and shot only because of their Jewish origins.” (Witness N°106, interviewed in Feodosiya, on December 25, 2004).

Soviet archives

“On November 10, 1941, the Germans carried out a Jewish population census. They ordered us all to put a six-point star on the chest and back. My father, my mother and my sister were obliged to wear these distinctive marks for one month.
On December 1, 1941, all the Jews were gathered. The Germans told them they would be displaced somewhere in Ukraine. On December 4, 1941, in the morning, all the Jews, including my father, my mother and my sister were taken to an anti-tank trench where they were executed by German shooters. 1,500-1,700 people were shot that day.” [Deposition of a Jewish survivor, Dora T., given to the Soviet Extraordinary commission on June 20, 1944; RG.22-002M : Reel 2, Fond 7021, Opis 9, Delo 56]

German archives

“In Feodosia also Sonderkommando 10b carried out an execution during which a large number of Jews – men, women, and children were shot to death. I can’t say how many they were, perhaps 500 or 700 or even 800. I remember that for this execution the Jews were rounded up in the town and then taken to the execution site, some of them were marched while others were taken by truck. The execution site was about 1.5 kilometers outside the city, in a hilly area, near a well paved road. During this execution I was assigned to cordon off the main road that had heavy military traffic, in order not to allow anyone to drive towards the execution site. The anti-tank trench started from the point I was standing and extended to the execution site 200-250 meters away. At this point the Jews were taken or driven to this execution site. I couldn’t see how the execution itself was carried out but I heard the gunshots. I heard about two or three minute rattle of gunfire, not in volleys but rather in bursts. After that there were several more shots and then, for some time, it was quiet again. Probably the Jews were shot in groups, and once the first group of victims was shot, the executioners waited for the next group. I can’t say whether the Jews had to strip naked before being shot, whether or not they had to hand over their valuables, or where their bundles were left. I can’t say how long the execution lasted since I was relieved of my duties by a SD man after one and a half to two hours because on that specific day I also had to carry out guard duties at the military barracks. You ask me who was firing during this execution. I remember that the entire SD detachment took part, at least 50-60 men from the Waffen-SS, - I don’t know what unit they belonged to, about 9-15 policemen, and also 25-30 members of the Russian auxiliary police. I believe that P. was in charge of this execution since I saw him at the execution site.” [From the interrogation of Otto Willi Max R., made on December 9, 1961;Ludwigsburg 213-AR-1899/66]

Historical note

Feodosiya, founded during the Hellenistic period as the Greek colony of Theodosia, is a town located about 120 km east of Simferopol. Before 1783 it was known as Kaffa. The first Jews started to settle down in Feodosiya beginning in the 10th century. In the late Middle Ages, two synagogues were built in the town – one for the Krymchak Jews, and another one for the Ashkenazi Jews. The Karaite community had its own kenassa. According to the 1897 census, the Jewish community, mostly Ashkenazi, numbered 3,109.  The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade, craft and wine growing. After World War I, under the Soviet rule, all the Jewish activities in Feodosiya were ceased. In 1926, there were 3,248 Jews and 559 Krymchaks comprising only 11% of the total population. Before World War II 2,922 Jews lived in Feodosiya. Approximately 1,500 Jews managed to flee the town before the Germans arrived.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On November 3, 1941, Feodosiya was occupied by the Germans. One week after their arrival, all the Jewish population of the town was ordered to register and wear distinctive badges in the form of Star of David on their chests and backs. According to the historical sources, in three days, 1,052 Jews were registered. Approximately 500 Krymchaks were registered separately.

The first mass-shooting took place on December 4, 1941, outside the town in the anti-tank trenches. Prior to be shot, all the Jews were ordered to appear at the Sennaya Street under the pretext of the relocation. On December 1, those who showed up, mainly women, children and elder people were gathered and confined into the prison building. According to the eyewitnesses, the victims were taken to the trenches by covered black truck. According to the German archives 800 Jews, although the Soviet commission gives a number of 2,000 victims, were killed that day by a Sonderkommando 10b unit.  Before being killed they had to undress and handover their belongings and good clothing.  On December 12, about 300 Krymchaks were shot dead at the same site by the same unit accompanied by Feldgendarmerie. From January to April 1942, after short liberation of the town by Soviet troops, the Germans continued to look for the Jews who stayed in hiding. Those who were discovered were taken to the same anti-tank ditches to be shot. 

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