Horodenka (Gorodenka) | Ivano-Frankivsk

A group portait of Jewish children. ©Taken from Virtual sztetl / The surviving building of the synagogue. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. Ivan O., born in 1933: “According to the order, while the Germans talked during the meeting, the synagogue was surrounded, and none went out of the [synagogue] alive.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. "My brothers went to see the execution. The Jews were marched towards the youth summer camp. It was in the forest next to the river." ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The surviving tombstones at the Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The surviving tombstones at the Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. Ivan O., born in 933: “The mortician was the one who had to dig the pit each time there was an execution at the cemetery. He was the one who would cover it as well.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The Yahad team during an interview with a local witness at the execution site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The memorial at the Jewish cemetery in the memory of circa 350 Jews murdered during WWII. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum.

Execution of Jews in Horodenka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Jewish cemetery
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Ivan L., born in 1919: "My brothers went to see the execution. The Jews were marched towards the youth summer camp. It was in the forest next to the river. A pit was dug. It was dug by requisitioned communists from Mykhalche. A plank was put across the pit. The Jews had to undress and walk in groups over the plank. One Jewish girl survived and came to our house at night. She was from Horodenka and was trying to get back there. I took her to Horodenka hidden in my cart under hay." (Witness n°2271U, interviewed in Kotykivka, on September 14, 2017)

Soviet archives

"On April 13, 1942, the Germans organized the second Aktion. They arrested 50 adults in their homes and shot them in the Jewish administration building. The shooting took place in the following way. All the people were taken into a room, put in front of the window or the door next to the window and shot. Each person who was shot fell down, so after the shooting, the bodies lay on top of each other like sheaves of grain. The room in which the shooting took place was filled with blood. I know this because the next day I was forced to take the bodies out of the room and bury them in the cemetery. In addition to the people shot in that room, I saw the bodies on the road: a woman and a 16-year-old girl in one place and boys aged 2-3 and 1. I was forced to pick up these bodies and bury them. [...] After the second Aktion, nothing happened for 5 months, until September 6, 1942. The remaining Jews were used for forced labor: they cleaned roads, broke stones, worked in the fields, dismantled Jewish houses which the Germans then sold to the Ukrainian population." [Deposition of a Jewish survivor born in 1910, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission; GARF 7021-73-11]

German archives

"The second Aktion was on April 13. In the meantime, a ghetto had been created and Jews from all over the district were taken there. The ghetto was not fenced in, there were just Jewish policemen. I was working on the construction of the road. After a while the ghetto was closed, strictly guarded, and there was hunger and typhus. We went to work under the supervision of the Jewish police.
In July or August 1942 there was a registration of all Jews. Only 50 specialists and a few collectors of used material remained. They were given an "A" sign (meaning ‘worker’). Some of the deportees did not go to Belzec but to the camp on Janowska Street in Lemberg [Lviv]. Two weeks later, the Jews who had been rounded up in the meantime were taken to the Kolomea [Kolomyia] ghetto. I went to Tluste [Tovste] with my sister. The people there did not want to believe what they were told, even though Tluste [Tovste] was about 35 km from Horodenka. There had not been any Aktion there yet. But on a Saturday, the first one took place. Many Jews remained in Tluste [Tovste] until the spring of 1943. The total liquidation took place in May. Some of them went to Czortkow [Chortkiv], the others to a camp in Korolowka [Korolivka]. It was an estate where about 50 Jews worked. There were no police, and no one was watching us. The manager was a Pole named Z. We could live there. I worked for the farmers. Some Jews were shot on November 23, 1943. The others returned to the estate. We stayed there until January 1, 1944." [Deposition of Mendel Rosenkranz, , Jewish survivor born in 1928, BAL B162-2224 p.109.]

Historical note

Horodenka is a town located 60 km (37mi) southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk. Until 1772, it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1772 until 1914, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1914 to 1919 the town was under the control of different states, including the Russian Empire and the Western Ukrainian Republic (from 1918 until May 1919). In between the two world wars, it was taken over by Poland before being occupied by Soviet Union in September 1939. The first records of the town’s Jewish community date back to the late 17th - early 18th centuries. According to the 1890 census, 4,340 Jews lived in the town, making up 39% of the total population. The town had a synagogue and a cemetery. In 1921, the Jewish population of Horodenka consisted of 3,048 people (out of 9,907 inhabitants). During the interwar years, many of them migrated to America and Palestine. The majority of Jews who lived in Horodenka were merchants or artisans. It is estimated that on the eve of the war, circa. 3,500 Jews lived in Horodenka. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On 5 July 1941, Horodenka was invaded by the Hungarian army. In the middle of July, about a thousand Jews were brought in from Transcarpathian Ukraine. Some of them were placed in Horodenka with the local Jews, others in the synagogue, or taken to Ustechko, across the river, where they were confined in an old distillery building. In September 1941, Horodenka and its district was taken over by German Civil administration. The new administration implemented several anti-Jewish measures. All the Jews were registered and forbidden from leaving the town. They were constantly asked to hand over their valuables and other valuable belongings, like fur coats.

The first mass execution was conducted on December 4 and 5, by a Gestapo unit who arrived from Kolomyia for this purpose. All the Jews were ordered to gather in the synagogue under the pretext of vaccination against typhus. The Germans separated a group of workers from the crowd. The next day, all other Jews, ca. 2,600 people, including 1,000 children, were taken to the forest next to the village of Mykhalche to be massacred. Before being shot, they were forced to undress. In groups, they then had to walk over the plank that had been put across the pit, from which they fell inside when hit with bullets. According to witness YIU/2271U, the pit was dug by requisitioned communists from Mykhalche. The remaining Jews, estimated to be circa. 1,500, were confined in the ghetto. Jews from the nearby villages and towns were also confined in the ghetto, bringing the total number of inmates up to 2,348. On April 13, 1942, another execution took place, during which several hundred Jews were shot at the Jewish cemetery. Many of them managed to hide or bribe Germans to remain alive. The isolated shootings continued during this time. According to different sources, the ghetto was liquidated on September 8 (or September 17), 1942. The remaining inmates were assembled, the skilled workers put aside, and about 200 or 300 Jews from the entire group were shot on the spot. Many others were deported to the Belzec extermination camp. In late September, the 120 Jewish skilled workers who were left to clean up the ghetto and the territory were transferred to the Kolomyia ghetto. 


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