Makhnivka (former Komsomolsk, Komsomolskoye) | Vinnytsia

Reburial of the bodies of the Jews of Makhnivka, murdered in late 1942. A photograph from the interview with Polina Belskaia, USC Shoah Foundation Institute. ©Photo archive, taken from

Execution of Jews in Makhnivka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Zhezhelev forest (1); Ravine (2); Field (3)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 1,000

Soviet archives

"During the German occupation, the district’s civilian population was subjected to violence, arrests and extermination. In September 1941, the German authorities organized a mass shooting of the Jewish population. Early in the morning of September 10, 1941, the SS unit that had arrived in the district surrounded the entire town of Komsomolsk [now Makhnivka]. Around 800 people were rounded up in a specially prepared building, where they were stripped of their valuables and money, before being taken in vehicles to the Zhezhelev forest, near the village of Zhezhelev [today Zhezheliv], to be shot. It was also established that prior to the shooting, the SS punitive detachment mistreated the population: [the victims] were put in carts instead of horses to bring water, the gold teeth of living people were removed, children and the elderly were thrown alive into the pit and buried. The second shooting was carried out on August 8, 1942 by the Kalinovka [now Kalynivka] district gendarmerie, in the ravine on the field near Komsomolsk. The third shooting took place on December 13, 1942. In all, over 1,000 civilians were shot." [Act drawn by State Extraordinary Soviet Commission (ChGK), on April 15, 1945, p.3; GARF 7021-54-1246/ Copy USHMM RG.22-002M]

Historical note

Makhnivka, formerly known as Komsomolskoye from 1935 to 2016, is located approximately 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Berdychiv and 60 km (37 mi) northeast of Vinnytsia. Its history can be traced back to the 15th century, when it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The first recorded Jewish community in Makhnivka dates back to 1611. However, during the Khmelnytsky Uprising pogroms in 1648, the town suffered significant devastation, resulting in the destruction of its Jewish community. By 1765, only 6 Jewish residents remained.

Following the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Makhnivka became part of the Russian Empire. According to the 1897 census, the Jewish community numbered 2,435 individuals, constituting over 45% of the total population. During the Soviet era, Makhnivka housed a Jewish rural council and elementary school. With the establishment of cooperatives for artisans and the decline of social institutions, some Jews transitioned to agricultural work, while others found employment in the sugar refinery and brickyard industries.

Despite the significant economic contributions of Jews in the early 20th century, the Jewish community faced a decline during the Russian Civil War. By 1939, the Jewish population had decreased to 843 individuals, comprising 15.7% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Makhnivka fell under German occupation on July 14, 1941. Following a brief period of military control, the town transitioned to German civil administration in autumn 1941. Subsequently, a Ukrainian police unit was established in the town. The early months of the occupation witnessed the implementation of harsh anti-Jewish policies, with Jews coerced into forced labor and subjected to violence.

On September 10, 1941, an Aktion resulted in the murder of over 800 Jews. German police, assisted by Ukrainian officers, confined the victims to a barn and an oil-processing factory after stripping them of their valuables and subjecting them to abuse. Subsequently, they were transported by truck to nearby Zhezheliv forest, where they were shot and buried in three pre-dug pits.

Following this massacre, between 10 and 20 skilled Jewish workers, along with up to 80 Jews from neighboring areas, including children from mixed marriages, were rounded up and confined to a ghetto established in Makhnivka. Surrounded by barbed wire, the ghetto inmates were forced to wear distinctive yellow patches and subjected to various forms of forced labor.

The ghetto was liquidated during two separate Aktions, conducted by German rural police with assistance from local officers, on August 8, 1942, and December 13, 1942. During the first Aktion, approximately 90 Jews were taken to a ravine on the Peremoga collective farm and executed. The remaining ghetto inmates, roughly 10 individuals, were killed in a field near the Makhnivka maternity hospital. Only a handful managed to escape the massacre.

In the post-war period, the bodies of the ghetto victims were reinterred at the Jewish cemetery of Makhnivka, with a memorial erected at the mass grave site. During field research, Yahad identified one burial place, located within the Jewish cemetery.


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