Kopaihorod (Kopayhorod, Kopaygorod, Kopajgrod) | Vinnytsia

/ Sofia Kh., born in 1930 : « They were very hungry. We used to steal beetroots from our parents and brought them to throw over the fence. We were several, one was looking out for the guards, and others were throwing the beetroots.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad Sofia Kh., born in 1930 :” The bodies transported by sledges were thrown inside a mass grave like logs. All the bodies were naked. They didn’t have many clothes.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Nadia G., born in 1931, used to bring food to the Jews confined in the ghetto of Kopaihorod. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The remaining tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Kopaihorod. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The remaining tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Kopaihorod. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A drone view at the Jewish cemetery of Kopaihorod. The mass grave where the Jews from the ghetto were buried is also located at the cemetery. Kopaihorod. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A drone view at the Jewish cemetery of Kopaihorod. The mass grave where the Jews from the ghetto were buried is also located at the cemetery. Kopaihorod. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The former stables where a ghetto was created. About 2,800 Jews brought from Bessarabia and Bukovina were confined in this ghetto. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Romanians with dogs. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The former stables where a ghetto was created. About 2,800 Jews brought from Bessarabia and Bukovina were confined in this ghetto. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Romanians with dogs. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad-In Unum team with a witness at the Jewish cemetery locating the mass grave of Jews. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina in Kopaygorod

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery
Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
2,800

Witness interview

Nadia G., born in 1931: “I will tell you, because I used to bring them food to that station in Kopaihorod. My mother would scold me because of the Romanians that were there. She would say: “Don’t go there, because they can hit you very hard and throw you into that quarry. I was small and skinny as a child. When my mother went to work, and you know it was such a life, that I already started baking bread by myself at the age of 14 years old, and to cook at the age of 12, I did what I wanted. My mother made that mamalyha. I found a clean tug, wrapped few pieces and I went there. I have been there three times. We had very bad potato harvest, but I took few little potatoes and baked them. Then, I took father’s coat teared the pockets, because how much can you fit in the pockets? I could barely walk. Once there, I threw the food and they ate it, poor things. But, on the third time, [when I came] I was threatened with a gun to my chest. I got scared. But when other people of the village saw a Romanian pointing a gun at me, they started to yell. As a result, he let me go. I came home and told my mother about it after a day or two. My mother told me to not leave the house anymore, so I didn’t.
Y.U.: Were there many guards?
Witness: There were four of them. You know it was a small forest and they put a barbed wire, that way they needed more people to guard, not just two. So, I saw four of them. But I don’t know if they were guards, I can’t tell you.” (Witness n°2654, interviewed in Volodiyivtsi, on September 12, 2019)

Soviet archives

« During the occupation of Kopaihorod the German and Romanian occupiers executed in July 1942 two unidentified women brought from Bessarabia and the following residents of Kopaihorod: David Serov, Nakhman Lvovich Gorski, Chaina Nakhmanovna Gorskaya, in the camp, [created] for the citizens of the Jewish nationality. The Romanian kommandant P. is responsible for that.
In March 1943 the following residents of Kopaihorod were shot along with unidentified people of Jewish nationality brought from Bessarabia: Ovchi Aronovich Khasiuk, Ion (first and last names are unknown). The noncommissioned Romanian officer, the head of the Gendarmeria unit in Nemerschi, Lev Miguta, is responsible for this. […]
In 1941-1942, 2,800 Jews confined in the camp-ghetto of Kopaihorod died from bad treatment, hunger and beatings. Ve[illegible] Moiseyevich Erchaman, Usher Srulevich Krig et Isaac Sukherovich Melamud were beaten to death with batons. Those responsible for this action were the Kopaihorod district pretor, Ivan Vode, and his deputy engineer-agronomist, Grigori Mikulski.” [Act n°1 drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on April 16, 1945, in Kopaihorod, GARF 7021-54-1239, p.6]

Historical note

Kopaihorod is located 80km (50mi) southwest of Vinnytsia. The first record about the Jewish community goes back to the 17th century. According to the first official census in 1847, 617 Jews lived in Kopaihorod and nearby villages. In 1886 there were three synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. By 1897, the Jewish community grew up to 1,720 people comprising almost 60% of the total population. The majority of Jews were merchants or artisans. The only kerosene warehouse in the town was owned by a Jew, N. Degen. There were two lumberyards owned by Ichil Oksman and Dan Schwartz. From 1920s the education in Jewish school was given in Yiddish. In 1926 eight Jewish families moved to the Kherson region in the newly created agricultural colony named after Guirsh Lekkert. The synagogue was closed in 1927, but there was Yiddish theater that continued to function. On the eve of the war, only 1,075 Jews lived in the town making up about 37% of the entire population. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Kopaihorod was occupied by the German and Romanian troops in the second half of July 1941. By that time about 70% of the local Jews managed to evacuate. The village remained under Romanians and became part of the Transnistria from September 1941. In September 1941, the remaining 300 local Jews were displaced to a camp, created in the forest near the station of Kopai. During its existence the detainees were selected to perform various forced labor. In the end of November 1941, the detainees were brought back to Kopaihorod where they were placed in the ghetto along with several thousand Jews brought from Bessarabia and Moldova brought in October 1941. The ghetto was created in the kolkhoz stables. It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Romanians with dogs. Some detainees were placed in the empty houses, according to the Ukrainian historian A.Kruglov. In all, between 5,000 and 6,000 Jews were detained in the ghetto. The local population brought food on the sly to give or, sometimes, to barter for clothes or valuables. Due to bad living conditions, hunger and cold, hundreds of Jews died over the winter 1941-1942. Hundreds more died due to typhus. The bodies were taken to be buried in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery. According to the Soviet archives, about 2,800 Jews died in the ghetto under the occupation. On September 1943 there were 1, 295 “Romanian” Jews Not including the local Jewish population. Many Jews managed to escape from the territories controlled by Germans fearing the imminent executions. For example, several dozen families from Bar believed the reports and fled to Romanian-controlled Kopaihorod, where they survived, while the remaining Jews were shot in two major actions carried out in August and October 1942. Several isolated executions took place in Kopaihorod during the existence of the ghetto. The bodies were buried in the Jewish cemetery.

For more information about the camp in Kopai please refer to the corresponding profile.

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