3 Execution site(s)
Halyna V., born in 1942, a Jewish survivor: “For a long time I didn’t even know that I was Jewish. I grew up in a Ukrainian family and I couldn’t possibly have known that I was Jewish. I didn’t find out I was Jewish until I was 58 years old. I was told that I was born in the ghetto. My father was drafted into the army shortly after the Soviet Union was occupied. He was a doctor. I don’t even know if he knew that my mother was pregnant with me. She and with my elder brother stayed in Nova Ushytsia. When the Germans arrived and ghetto was created, she was forced there along with my brother. I was born in the beginning of 1942. When all the Jews were taken to the shooting, my mother, my brother, and I were taken as well. While passing by the potatoes field, my mother threw me in the fields. She and my brother were murdered. I was found by the local villagers and adopted by a family who took care of me. My father came back in 1944. Obviously, our house had been taken, and he wasn’t very well welcome in the village. He was told that his wife and son had been killed, and that I had been adopted. He watched me playing from far and being happy, he decided to leave me in my adopted family. Since I found out about this story, I have been trying to find out more about my biological family but without any success. My father’s name was Boris Betenski. That is all I know about him.” (Witness n°702U, interviewed in Nova Ushytsia, on August 23, 2008)
“We, the undersigned […] compiled the following report: today we carried out the excavation and exhumation of the bodies of people shot to death by the German occupiers. It was established that: In the western part of the town of Novaya Ushitsa, along the road that goes to the village of Lucha-Ivanovtsy there are six mass graves. Four of them are located on the hill between the Forest tract Trikhov and the road. Each of the pits measures 10m long, 4m large and 3m deep. In these pits there are 2,620 bodies, [another] 24 bodies - in the grave located in the eastern part of the forest and 3 bodies - in yet another grave in the western part of the forest.
In the municipal park of the town of Novaya Ushitsa, there are 6 graves: five with 2 bodies, and one with one body. In the northeast of the city of Novaya Ushitsa, next to the brick factory, on the territory of the kolkhoz "3rd Internat" there are two [more] graves: one with 6 bodies, the other one with another nine bodies. In all, 16 graves were discovered in Novaya Ushitsa, containing 3,222 people. In all the graves the bodies were naked, i.e., before the shooting [the victims] were forced to strip naked. The doctors who examined the bodies established that the civilians were killed by sub-machine gun fire aimed at their heads, many were killed by rifle butts since the skulls of many victims were smashed in. The children were thrown alive into the pit which was confirmed by medical expertise and depositions of the witnesses. The murder of the civilians, which was supervised by Schtefen, the Gebietskommissar of Bar took place mainly in August-September 1942.” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) drawn up on June 12, 1944; TsGAOOU 166-3-215]
Nova Ushytsia, known as Letnevtsy until 1829, is a small town located 56 km (35mi) northeast of Kamianets-Podilsky. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century. In 1897, 2,011 Jews lived in the town making up 56% of the total population. Most of them lived off small scale commerce and handicraft. In the 1920s and 1930s, the town had a Jewish council and a Yiddish school. In 1939, the local Jewish community numbered 1,547 individuals, making up 55% of the total population.
Nova Ushytsia was occupied by German forces on July 14, 1941. By that time about 30-35% of the Jews had managed to evacuate. In the summer of 1941, still under military administration, all the Jews were marked with yellow Star of David, that were replaced to yellow patched in the fall, once the German civil administration took over. The first isolated killings were conducted shortly after the occupation. The victims, including the local rabbi, were shot at the Jewish cemetery. In September 1941 a ghetto was established. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by the local police. Any non-Jewish resident who lived inside the newly created ghetto was forced to moved out. In the spring of 1942 the Jews from the nearby villages of Zamekhiv, Pylypkivtsi, Slobodka, and Pesets were resettled in the ghetto. Alongside the local Jews there were Bessarabian refugees as well. At its peak, about 1,500 Jews were interned in the ghetto. Any Jewish inmates fit to work were taken to forced labor such as road repair, street cleaning and wood-chopping. FrIsolated shootings happened from time to time. In the winter of 1941-1942, for example, several Jews were rounded up, tortured and murdered in the nearby forest. On August 20, 1942, the ghetto was liquidated under the pretext of a future resettlement to Palestine. That day the craftsmen and their families were selected and lived aside, while others, mainly women, elderly people and children, were taken to the forest to be shot. Once on the site the Jews were made to strip naked, lie face down in groups of ten in one of the pits, and were then shot to death with sub-machine guns. 707 Jews were murdered that day. Some Jewish men, including a witness interviewed by Yahad, managed to escape from the site by running away naked into the forest. After a couple of days, they came back to the ghetto hoping to stay there. Because they didn’t have authorization papers, they were arrested and sent to the Letychiv work camp along with some Jews deemed fit to work. In October 1942, skilled workers and their families who had been kept in the ghetto were shot to death at the same site. The murder Aktionen were carried out by the Security Police stationed in Kamianets-Podislky. According to a Soviet (ChGK) report from 1944, 2,620 Jews from Novaya Ushitsa and the surrounding villages were shot to death in these two murder operations. Although we believe that this figure may be overestimated. According to the testimonies, supposedly, in November or December 1942, the Jews who were still in hiding after the two murder operations but were then found were imprisoned. Several days later, at dawn, they were taken to pits near a canning factory and shot to death.
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