1 Execution site(s)
Anna D., born in 1933: "In 1942, on my way to school, I saw two Jewish children being killed by a German, who banged their heads against the wall of the house. While I covered my eyes to avoid watching the violent scene, the German approached and forced me to look at the victims’ corpses by moving my hands away from my eyes. I remember him squeezing my face so hard that I couldn’t eat for a whole week and continued to stuggle mentally for a year after that." (Testimony N°YIU2428U, interviewed in Stari Kuty, on July 5, 2018)
"At 9 am, on the second day of Passover holiday, about 100 men of Gestapo, Kripo (Criminal Police), Sipo (Security Police), and Ukrainian auxiliary police arrived from Kolomyia. All the streets were occupied. The first victims fell, hit by bullets. Doors and windows were knocked down, houses looted. By 10 am, all the streets were set on fire. The flames rose so high that they could be seen from Vyzhnytsia and Ispas, on the Romanian side. A burning smell was spreading. Complaints and screams could be distinctively heard in Vyzhnytsia. […] In Kuty, anyone who had been hiding in attics or elsewhere had to leave the burning houses. Men, women, and children jumped from the roofs. It was a terrible sight: they were half-burned their hair was on fire. The monsters were waiting outside, aiming at victims as if they were targets. They amused themselves by throwing some of them into flames, while others were rounded up at the square. There, the unfortunate people had to sit on the dirty ground with their heads between their legs. They were severely hit over the head with whips by the Gestapo. […] In order to preserve the memory of these crimes, the pictures of the bloodbath were taken by a Gestapo man. Throughout this disastrous operation, Judenrat president Selig K*** and three other Jews had to pick up the corpses in the streets, load them onto a handcart and take them to the cemetery." [Descriptions and eyewitness reports about the fate of the Yablonitsa [today Yablunytsya] border zone near Snyatin [today Snyatyn] during the war years 1941-1944; BArch162-2231, p.186]
Kuty is a mountain town located on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains, about 98 km (61mi) southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk and 11 km (7mi) southeast of Kosiv. The first mention of Kuty dates back to 1448. Until 1772 it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was then incorporated into the Habsburg Empire, as part of Habsburg Austrian Galicia. 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). During the inter-war period, it was taken over by Poland before being occupied by Soviet Union in September 1939. The first records of the Jewish community date back to the beginning of 18th century, with 972 Jews settled in the town. Kuty’s favorable location near the borders of Poland and Moldova allowed the development of trade carried out by the Jewish community. According to a late 19th-century census, Kuty was home to 3,045 Jews, making up almost 48% of the total population. There were a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. Hasidism was the dominant religious movement, although the Zionists became more active after the First World War. Over the time, the Jewish specialists became an important part of the town’s social life. There were Jewish doctors, judges, lawyers, engineers. In 1900, the Jewish community of Kuty numbered 3,137 people out of a total of 6,689, and in 1921, it numbered 2,605 people making up more than 47% of the town’s population. Under Soviet rule, September 1939-1941, all social institutions, and political organizations were dissolved. By 1939, more than 2,500 Jews remained in Kuty.
Kuty was occupied in early July 1941 by Hungarian troops, followed by Romanians. Before moving on and leaving the town under Hungarian control, the Romanians looted and humiliated local Jewish population. On August 1, 1941, the power was transferred to the German General Government. The persecutions intensified following the arrival of the Germans. Starting from then, the Jews had to wear armbands bearing the Star of David. A Jewish council (Judenrat) was created. Some Jews managed to escape to Romania.
The Kuty Jews, as well as the refugees who had arrived from the West in August 1941 were murdered in town or deported to Kolomyia over the course of several major Aktions, mostly carried out by the Security Police (Sipo) based in Kolomyia, with the help of local auxiliary police. The first mass Aktion took place on April 9, 1942, when all the streets of the Jewish quarter, including a synagogue building, were set on fire in order to smoke out all the Jews still in hiding. Circa. 1,000 Jews were burned alive or shot dead that day and their corpses were buried in the Jewish cemetery. That same month, elderly Jews, children and anyone who didn’t have valid work certificates, circa. 500 people, were deported to Kolomyia. The first group was taken there right after the Aktion, while the second one was transferred on April 24, 1942. The Jews left in Kuty were confined to the ghetto where they were subjected to forced labor. The second mass Aktion, carried out in the same way as the first one, took place in the summer of 1942. The corpses of the Jews murdered in the town were taken to the Jewish cemetery to be buried, while other Jews were deported to Kolomyia. On September 7, 1942, the last group of skilled Jewish workers were brought to Kolomyia. During each deportation, a number of Jews unable to walk were killed on the road to Kolomyia. From there, the victims were deported along with Jews from surrounding villages to the Bełzec extermination camp or murdered in the nearby forest of Sheparivtsi. The isolated shootings of Jews found in hiding continued in Kuty throughout the whole period of German occupation.
For more information about the fate of Jews taken to Kolomyia, please follow the corresponding profile.
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