Kolomyia (Kolomyya, Kołomyja, Kolomea) | Ivano-Frankivsk

/ / One of the three Jewish cemeteries in Kolomyia with a few surviving tombstones. (N°1) ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum One of the three Jewish cemeteries in Kolomyia with a few surviving tombstones. (N°2) ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum One of the three Jewish cemeteries in Kolomyia with a few surviving tombstones. (N°3) ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum One of the three Jewish cemeteries in Kolomyia with a few surviving tombstones. (N°3) ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving building of one of the synagogues in Kolomyia. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving building of one of the synagogues in Kolomyia. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Vasyl M., born in 1932, lived about  1 km away from the Sheparivtsi forest and witnessed the executions conducted there during the war. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Anna F., born in 1935: “The shooting was conducted by two or three shooters.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team during an interview with Anna F. at her house. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Iaroslava P., born in 1925, was forced to move out of her house because it was located on the territory of the newly created ghetto. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Kateryna T., born in 1928: “Before the war, my father worked at the paper factory that belonged to a Jew, whose name was Hamer. When the Soviets arrived in 1941 the factory continued to work but it was nationalized by the state.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In The Kolomyia railway station from which the Jews were deported to the Belzec extermination camp starting from April 1942. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Vasyl M., born in 1932: “There was a wooden plank put across the pit and the Jews were taken out of the barracks in groups of fives or six, - I don’t know exactly how many they were, and forced to walk onto the plank and before being shot with one bullet. The Yahad team at the execution site together with a witness. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The execution site of c. 20,000 Jews murdered in the Sheparivtsi forest over the course of over a dozen Aktions. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The memorial in the memory of c. 40,000 Jews who were murdered by bullets in the Sheparivtsi forest or deported to the Belzec camp. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Sheparivtsi

1 Execution site(s)

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

Witness interview

Iaroslava P., born in 1925: “We had to move out of our house because they created a ghetto. So all the Ukrainians who lived in that area had to move out. We had to leave everything and were only able to take personal belongings and some dishes. Jews who lived outside the ghetto were forced to move into the houses where Ukrainians lived before. So we moved into the Jewish houses. When we arrived in our new house, all the furniture was still there. All the non-Jewish families that were moved were moved one night. Everything happened at the same time. Since the Jews outnumbered the other communities, more than ten of them had to be crammed into the ghetto houses. The ghetto was surrounded by a fence as soon as it was created, and all the Jews moved in. The was not very high, but there was barbed wire on top. However, it was not very stable, and it was easy to move a board. I would go to the ghetto from time to time to give some food to my Jewish friends.” (Witness n°YIU/2283U, interviewed in Kolomyia, on September 18, 2017)

German archives

"I was assigned to be a guard during the first Aktion in Kolomea [Kolomyia]. I was ordered to make sure that the Jews who were gathered in a square by the Gestapo in cooperation with the Ukrainian militia and the city guards did not run away. Lieutenant Hertl had given us the order to shoot anyone who tried to run away (...). I personally did not shoot anyone. (...) The rounded-up people were first separated into two groups: the able-bodied and the non-able-bodied. The able-bodied were then placed in the prison, from where they were transported a few days later to Sheparovtse [ukr. Sheparivtsi] where they were shot. (...) The Jewish Ordnungsdienst took care of the dead who remained [in the streets]. I once participated in the escort of a group of people taken to the execution. Along with other members of my unit, I was ordered to take the convicts from the prison and bring them to the execution site. The group was commanded by Lieutenant Wittmann. I remember that there were some dead people when I entered the prison (...) On the way to Sheparovtse [ukr.Sheparivtsi], we had to cross several water points. We had difficulty crossing the stream. Several victims did not manage to cross the stream. They fell and were shot by the Ukrainians who were also in the escort. Once in the forest, the majority of the victims were herded into a barrack - there were 60-100 of them) from where they were brought in groups of 20-30 to the pit. There they had to lie on their bellies. They were shot in the back of the head with rifles (...) The pit was 1.60 m deep (...) We arrived with our unit at Cheparovtse [ukr.Sheparivtsi], around 11a.m. and left around 7p.m. 600-700 people were liquidated." [Statement of Johann G., given in Vienna, on September 20, 1947, member of Austrian police in Kolomyia; BAL B162-2225 p.126]

Historical note

Kolomyia is a city located on the river Prut, 51 km (32mi) south southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk. Until 1772, it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1772 until 1914, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1914 to 1919, the town was under the control of different states, from the Russian Empire to the Western Ukrainian People’s 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 record of the Jewish community dates back to 16th century. Although many were murdered and the community was destroyed during the Khmelnytskyi uprising of 1648–1649, the Jewish population quickly reestablished itself and numbered more than 1,000 residents by 1772. In 1880, the community numbered 12,002 making up 51% of the total population. The majority of Jews were involved in trade and industry, mainly lumber industry, brick-making factories, oil refineries. Hasidism was the dominant religious movement. The community was culturally vibrant and complex, and its influence on the Jewish culture of Galicia was significant. Before the Second World War there were approximately 50 operational synagogues in Kolomyia, several cheders, Jewish schools. Following Soviet occupation in 1939, all organizations and movements were dissolved. On the eve of the war, about 20,000 Jews lived in the town and its surrounding area. By 1941n its number reached about 30,000 including the refugees who arrived from Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Kolomyia was occupied by Hungarian troops on July 3, 1941. The Jewish community of Kolomyia as well as the refugees who arrived from the West were murdered over the course of at least 17 different Aktions either by bullets or at an extermination camp. According to historical sources, about 60% of Jews were murdered by killings in the forest next to the village of Sheparivtsi, while the other 40% were deported to the Belzec camp where they were murdered on their arrival. Shortly after the occupation, on July 4 1941, a pogrom was organized during which several Jews were gathered, humiliated, forced to dig a pit, but were saved from being shot thanks to the intervention of a deputy mayor. From August 1941 the power was transferred to the German General Government. From then on all the Jews were registered and wore armbands bearing the Star of David. A Jewish council (Judenrat) was created. All men fit to work aged from 12 to 60 were subjected to forced labor. The first mass execution took place in October, 1941. According to the lists, several thousand Jews were rounded up. Some were confined in the prison, while others were taken directly to the forest near the village of Sheparivtsi and murdered there. The following day, those who were confined in the prison were also marched to the forest and murdered. The Aktion lasted several days and was conducted by SD and Gestapo units. Another mass execution was conducted on November 6, 1941, during which another 2,000 Jews were killed in the Sheparivtsi forest. The shootings continued regularly throughout November, December, January, February and March. In this time more than 3,000 Jews, including 1,200 foreign Jews, were rounded-up and murdered in the Sheparivtsi forest. On March 23, 1942, a ghetto comprised of three separate sections was created. Some 17,000 remaining Jews were forced to move in there. On April 3-6, 1942, the first deportation to the Belzec extermination camp took place. Circa. 5,000 Jews were deported. On September 7, 1942, another deportation was conducted. On this day all the Jews were summoned to assemble at the central square. After a selection, circa. 1,300 were left aside while the rest were deported to the Belzec extermination camp over the following days. This Aktion was conducted by the Gestapo. In all, during the four-day Aktion, circa. 17,300 Jews from Kolomyia and its vicinity, Sniatyn, Horodenka, Kuty, Kosiv, were deported to the Belzec camp and murdered upon their arrival. On February 23, 1943, the ghetto was liquidated. During the liquidation about 2,200 Jews were brutally killed in the streets and houses of the ghetto. The isolated shootings of those who managed to hide continued until the liberation of the city in March 1944.

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