Mykolaïv (Mykolaiv, Nikolaev) | Mykolaïv

Maria, born in 1927 in Voskresenke, witness to the shooting of the Jews from Mykolaiv: "During the first shooting, only the men were shot, fully dressed. During the following shootings, adults and children were forced to undress before being shot”. © YIU Uliana, born in 1927, in Mykolaïv:"The150 Soviet POWs had to open a third pit containing the corpses of adults and children, remove any valuables and golden teeth and wash them. They then had to burn the bodies. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Lidia Sh., born in 1936, an eyewitness to the shooting of the Jews in the ravine close to the village of Voskresenske: “In all, there were three ravines where the Jews were executed."© Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with an eyewitness to the execution near the ravine where approximately 10,000 Jews were murdered. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Uliana, born in 1927, in Mykolaïv: "I saw the POWs being taken there, but I only went to the site once. I saw the bodies lined up on the edge of the river. Later, I saw the flames rising up as the bodies were burnt."  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Mykola M., born in 1936: “The trucks with the Jews stopped a little bit away from the ravine. Before the Jews were forced out of the trucks the Germans formed a corridor in the form of a zigzag, by which the Jews were marched towards the ravine.” © YIU A drone view of the ravine where approximately 10,000 Mykolaiv Jews were murdered during the German occupation  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A drone view of the ravine where approximately 10,000 Mykolaiv Jews were murdered during the German occupation  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The memorial located close to the ravine in the memory of approximately 10,000 Mykolaiv Jews who were murdered during the German occupation  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum One of the mass graves at the site of the ravine. At this location, women and children were murdered. According to some testimonies children were thrown into the ravine alive. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum A second mass grave at the site of the ravine where women and children were murdered. According to some testimonies children were thrown into the ravine alive. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The location of the mass grave where the pharmacist’s family was murdered. They were murdered after the mass shootings carried out on September 17-19, 1941. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The site of the Jewish cemetery where the Jews were ordered to gather on September 16, 1941 under the pretext of the further relocation. They were murdered in the ravines couple of hours later. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The memorial, in the middle of the park, to the memory of the Mykolaiv Jewish community murdered during WWII © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Mykolaïv

5 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Ravine (1,2), Jewish cemetery (3)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
About 10,000

Witness interview

Maria T., born in 1927: Y.U.: Once being forced out of the truck, were the Jews lined up near the pit altogether or in the groups?
Witness: They were in groups. They would line up the same quantity of Jews as there were the shooters. And then, next [group] and next. Once the group from the first truck was killed, the next truck arrived, and so on until the ravine was full. We worked in the garden brigade at that moment. And we had to go there [to the ravine] to fill in the pit. We were filling in the pit, but the earth would pour through the bodies when they moved as if they were still alive. So, we went to the garden, cut the trees and branches, and put them over the bodies. Then with buckets, scattered the soil all over the branches. We filled it in like that (Translators note: witness shows about twenty centimeters). We were told that there were ten thousand people there.
Y.U.: Where did the Jews put their clothes when they undressed before the execution?
Witness: They threw the clothes in a pile. Then the locals took it. Back then people didn’t have much clothing. So, they took it to wear.
Y.U.: Was it only one officer that was shooting?
Witness: No, there were a lot. There was a group. They would line them [Jews] up in front of the soldiers. And each soldier would shoot one person.
Y.U.: Were there single shots or bursts of gunfire?
Witness: It seemed like they were shooting in bursts, but they were isolated shots.
Y.U.: Did the vehicles start to arrive early in the morning?
Witness: They continued the whole day. From the morning till the evening.
Y.U.: When did you start to fill the pit with earth? Was it the first day or at the end of the execution, when it was over?
Witness: Yes, we started to fill it after it was over.“ (Witness n°2741, interviewed in Voskresenske, on December 4, 2019)

Soviet archives

“During the first days of the German occupation of the city of Nikolayev [Mykolaïv], the German authorities ordered all the Jews to appear at the Jewish cemetery, which was located on the outskirts of the city. The Jews gathered there from various parts of the city, individually and in groups - men, women, elderly men and women, and children. All of them were obviously going to their deaths. According to a census [carried out] by German military authorities in Nikolayev, there was a total of about 7,000 Jews, who then had to go to the cemetery, to their inescapable and obvious deaths. The Jews were taken from the cemetery by truck about 15-18 kilometers outside the city of Nikolayev near the village of Kalinovka, where mass shootings of the adults took place at a ravine, while the children had some mixture smeared under their noses. The children died from this within several minutes. Overall, about 4,000 Jews were shot to death in the city of Nikolayev.” [Testimony of Daria, local resident, born in 1895 given to the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK), on January 4, 1945; RG.22-002M: GARF 7021-68-222]

German archives

“Moreover, I remember a large-scale shooting action during which about 3,500-4,000 Jews were shot. The order to carry out this operation came from Otto Ohlendorf I was entrusted by Ohlendorf with overseeing this execution. Apart from Einsatzkommando 11a an additional Einsatzkommando or parts of it participated in this execution. I don’t know anymore which Einsatzkommando it was, but I assume it was Einsatzkommando 10. Einsatzkommando 11a was assigned in its entirety to this operation since it was still stationed in Nikolayev. At this time part of my squad was already in Kherson. Although I am being asked, I have to make it clear that I am unable to remember parts of this squad from Kherson being assigned to carrying out the execution in Nikolayev. The execution area itself was outside the city, to the left of the road leading out of the city, at two natural ravines. I do not know who chose this area for the execution. Before the execution, the Jews assembled in the ghetto beforehand were taken to a fenced-off gathering point outside the city. I can’t tell anymore whether there was a watchtower or some other structure at that location. From the gathering point the victims, including men, women, and children, were taken by truck to the execution site. Once there they were stopped about 50-100 meters from the ravines, behind the trucks, and taken from there to the execution place. I can’t exclude the possibility that the execution site could have been seen from that position as the view was not obstructed by trucks. The Jews had to take off their upper clothes and were taken in groups of ten or twelve to the execution site. When I say upper clothes I mean men’s hats, coats, scarves and jackets and, sometimes, kerchiefs, shawls, and women’s jackets. As good as I remember, these victims were not blindfolded. Then, they were lined up at the edge of the ravine, facing the ravine, and shot from a distance of about 5 meters by well-aimed rifle shots in the nape of their head. Also, cries could be heard during this operation. […] This execution was conducted in the course of 3 days in September, and each time it took place in the morning and the afternoon.” [Deposition of Paul Z., a former commander of Sonderkommando 11a of Einsatzgruppe D, given in the framework of its trail in Munich on January 8, 1968; ZStL Ludwigsburg 213 AR-60/1900]

Historical note

Mykolaïv is located in the Southern Ukraine, 430km south of Kyiv, the capital. The first Jews settled in the town in 1789. In 1819 a synagogue was built. The Jews started to come and live in larger numbers in the 1860s once the ban of Jewish presence in the city was lifted and the city became part of the Pale of Settlement. The majority of the Jews were involved in trade or handcraft, for instance, shoemaking.  In 1897, about 22% of the total population of the village was Jewish. In this period, another synagogue, known as the Choral Synagogue, was built.  Through time, the Jewish community from Mykolaiv suffered from several pogroms; in 1881, 1899, 1905, and in 1919. During the 1919 pogrom, 29 Jews were killed. Under Soviet rule, many cooperatives were created. In the 1920s-1930s a Yiddish school was opened alongside the existing Talmud Torah. In 1939, 25,280 Jews lived in the city making up only 15% of the total population. This number increased when Jewish refugees from Western territories arrived at the beginning of WWII. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Mykolaïv is located in the Southern Ukraine, 430km south of Kyiv, the capital. The first Jews settled in the town in 1789. In 1819 a synagogue was built. The Jews started to come and live in larger numbers in the 1860s once the ban of Jewish presence in the city was lifted and the city became part of the Pale of Settlement. The majority of the Jews were involved in trade or handcraft, for instance, shoemaking.  In 1897, about 22% of the total population of the village was Jewish. In this period, another synagogue, known as the Choral Synagogue, was built.  Through time, the Jewish community from Mykolaiv suffered from several pogroms; in 1881, 1899, 1905, and in 1919. During the 1919 pogrom, 29 Jews were killed. Under Soviet rule, many cooperatives were created. In the 1920s-1930s a Yiddish school was opened alongside the existing Talmud Torah. In 1939, 25,280 Jews lived in the city making up only 15% of the total population. This number increased when Jewish refugees from Western territories arrived at the beginning of WWII.   was occupied by the German army on August 16, 1941. Immediately the Jewish population was registered and marked with distinguishing yellow badges in the form of the Star of David. Several anti-Jewish measures were implemented: the Jews were not allowed to appear in some zones of the city and they were subjected to perform forced labor. During the first days of the occupation, eight Jews were hanged, together with five non-Jews, allegedly being accused of looting. Another shooting took place in late August 1941 when Sonderkommando 11a rounded-up and shot about 230 Jews for refusing to obey German orders. Approximately 5,000 local Jews were murdered in the middle of September 1941 outside the city in the three ravines, located 10km away from the city near the village of Voskresenske and Kalynivka and Horokhivka. Before being taken to the execution site, the Jews were rounded up at the Jewish cemetery; today there is a park, for a couple of days under the pretext of the future resettlement. According to the testimonies, some Jews, mainly handicapped, were killed and buried at the cemetery. After having been separated, men were taken and killed first. The next day women and children were brought by truck. All of the victims had to undress before being shot at the edge of the ravines by the shooters from Einsatzgruppe D and the 9th Police battalion attached to Einsatzgruppe D. In the three days an estimated 5,000 Jews were murdered. Those Jews, who managed to hide from the mass execution of September 1941, were rounded-up and shot in the pits near the banks of the Inhul River, outside of the city. According to the testimonies, this shooting took place in October 1941. However, the exact date remains unknown as well as the number of victims.

In 1942 a labor camp was established in Mykolaiv. Jews from areas of Ukraine under both German and Romanian administration were displaced to this camp which was liquidated in late 1942 or early 1943. According to the archives, a 1005 operation aiming to hide the traces of the crimes was launched in November 1943. About 150 Soviet prisoners of war were forced to unearth the bodies of Jewish victims and burn them. The 150 prisoners were then burned alive once the operation was complete.

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