Krasnograd (Krasnohrad, former Konstantinograd) | Kharkiv

Leonid S., born in 1932. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Klavdia P., born in 1929: “The town was retaken by the Soviets for a while, but then the Germans occupied it again. It was very dangerous for us to stay here, so we left and hid in the forest.”  ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Mykola B., born in 1936: “The ground was moving for four days. Some of them fell inside alive trying to escape the bullets.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Yahad’s research team interviewing witness Mykola B. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A main road now borders the execution site, located in this forest. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum A memorial stands a few hundred meters away from the location where the massacre took place. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Another memorial has been erected where the victims have been reburied.  ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Krasnograd

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Ravine
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941 - 1943
Number of victims :
90

Witness interview

Klavdia P., born in 1929: “I didn’t see it by myself, but my late husband did. He told me that in 1941 or 1942, I don’t remember it very well, he saw a shooting. Together with other boys they hid in the bushes and watched the Jews being killed. He didn’t realise that they were Jews at the time, he learned that later when people started to talk in the village. You know how it is. So, he told me that the Jews were first forced to dig a pit. They were taken to the ravine, or a slay quarry, where they had to dig a pit. Once the pit was dug, they were lined up in groups and shot with machine gun.” (Witness n°2971U, interviewed in Natalyne, on October 13, 2021)

Soviet archives

“On the reconstruction of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish population of the town of Krasnograd by the German-fascist invaders. The bodies of the people shot were carelessly thrown in a pit. It proved impossible to establish the victims’ identity as a year and a half have passed since the shooting.
There was no witness at the place of the shooting, however, the aforementioned kholkozians who took part in the investigation told the Commission that in summer, around June 1942, the German invaders brought in two trucks loaded with the town’s Jewish population, from Krasnograd to 500m outside of the village Natalyne. They brutally shot them in a ravine. Some of the citizens shot were thrown into the pit whilst still alive and were then covered by dirt. Noises and cries could be heard coming from the pit. Among Krasnograd’s Jewish victims was the town clinic’s doctor, Anna Grimberg, daughter of Wolf, Goldstein […]” [Act drawn up by Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on December 25, 1943; GARF 7021-76-835, pp. 329-330]

Historical note

Krasnograd is a small city in Kharkiv region, located about 80km (50mi) southeast of Kharkiv. The town started as a fortress built in 1731-1733 to protect the Russian Empire’s borders. It was called Bilevska until 1784 when it received town status and was renamed Konstantinograd. It was renamed Krasnograd in 1922.

Jews first settled there when the town started to grow at the end of the 18th century. Only a few hundreds in the mid-19th century, the Jewish community grew to number 1,099 individuals in 1897, making up 17% of the total population. In the early 20th century, they were major actors of the economic life of Krasnograd as they owned many different businesses from shops to printing houses. There were also several Jewish religious and educational institutions in the town. In the 1930s, however, the Jewish population declined as many young people moved to larger cities. On the eve of the war in 1939, a census numbered 547 Jews living in Krasnograd, comprising 3% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Germans occupied the city on September 20, 1941. By then, most of the local Jewish population had fled. Those who remained were persecuted by the Germans.  In late spring 1942, they were all registered and concentrated inside a makeshift ghetto. They also had to perform forced labour. In June 1942, the 90 Jews still in Krasnograd were driven in two trucks, or three, according to witness n°2970U, by the Germans and the local policemen to a nearby village, today part of Krasnograd, Natalyne. They were taken to a ravine and shot in a clay pit. According to witnesses, some were still alive when the perpetrators buried them in the pit. There were women, elderly people and children among the victims.

According to the Soviet archives, on October 22, 1941, the Germans also shot 47 Ukrainian men from Krasnograd. On that day, they were taken to the fields to work for the Germans when two shots rang out. One of the villagers had found a weapon in the field and accidentally fired it in the air. In retaliation, the Germans gathered all the workers, brought them to the kommandantur, and shot them allegedly for being partisans.

Nearby villages

  • Sakhnovshchyna
  • Zmiiv
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