Berizky (Berizki)/Vradiivka | Mykolaiv

/ Afanasiy B., born in 1929, was an eyewitness to isolated killings of Jews from the columns which were marched from Kryve Ozero in the direction of Vradiivka. ©Omar Gonzalez/Yahad - In Unum Valentyn B., born in 1930: “I remember the carts carrying Jews coming from Lyubashovka and  Krivoye Ozero.” ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The road down which the columns of Jews were marched from Kryve Ozero to Vradiivka. ©Omar Gonzalez/Yahad - In Unum The road down which the columns of Jews were marched from Kryve Ozero to Vradiivka. ©Omar Gonzalez/Yahad - In Unum The former hospital building where the Jews were confined before being taken to the execution. The building is located in Vradiivka. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The Yahad - In Unum team during an interview with a local witness nears the execution site. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The location of a ravine where about 7,003 Jews were murdered in 1941-1942, according to the Soviet archives. Execution site n°1 ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The column stopped for a night here. Back then, there was no crop warehouse or any construction. One Jewish boy was killed here. (Execution site n°2) ©Omar Gonzalez/Yahad - In Unum One Jewish girl was murdered here as the column passed through. Execution site n°3)©Omar Gonzalez/Yahad - In Unum A drone view of the execution site where about 7,003 Jews were murdered in 1941-1942, according to the Soviet archives. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The memorial to 7,003 Jewish victims murdered in near Vradiivka. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Vradiivka

3 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Anti-tank ditch (1); Empty field by the road (2;3)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
More than 7,000

Witness interview

Valentyn B., born in 1930:
“Y. U.: Were taken on foot or in carts to the ghetto?
Witness: I remember the carts coming from Lyubashovka [Liubashivka], and from Krivoye Ozero [Kryve Ozero]. They were brought in carts from those central areas. And when it was ordered to take them to Domanyevka [Domanivka] they used our carts. […]
Y.U.: Were the local Jews also taken in carts or not? Were there any announcements for the Jews to gather at that hospital?
Witness: Yes, there were. And if someone hid the Jews, they would be punished.
Y. U.: Did the Jews gather at the hospital in just one day, or did it take time?
Witness: In Vradiivka, they were gathered by the police on foot.
Y. U.: Were they gathered one by one or all together?
Witness: The policemen knew where the Jews lived. So, they went directly to their homes and they would drive the Jews with their families, along with whatever they managed to pack, to the hospital.
Y.U.: And were the Jews from the other areas also brought on carts?
Witness: Yes. […]
Y.U.: Were the Jews allowed to leave the ghetto once they were confined it it?
Witness: If the policeman was good, in a sense of being a good person, he would allow some people to come and bring some food, a piece of bread or something, a cooked potato maybe. Otherwise it was forbidden.” (Witness n°2720, interviewed in Vradiivka, on November 21st 2019)

Soviet archives

« The Romanian invaders arrived into our village like burglars: they invaded the houses which didn’t belong to them, they looted and killed civilians. On October 11th 1941, the Romanians headed by Paucianu, the Gendarmerie chief of Lukanivka, along with the starosta of the German village, Yakov K., gathered the inhabitants of the village at the school. There were children of all ages, elderly people, and pregnant women among them. Once everyone was gathered, none could leave the premises. Later, they started to kill them near the anti-tank ditch. The invaders ordered them to strip naked, then to line up in two lines where they were shot with a machine gun. The shootings lasted day and night and some [of the victims] were buried alive. Other people from nearby hamlets and districts were brought here to be shot as well. The anti-tank ditches were filled in to edges. At the end, in order to hide the traces of the crime, the Romanians poured gas over the corpses and burned them down. More than 7,000 civilians died at this site.” [Deposition of Anna K. given to Soviet Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on August 25th 1944; RG.22-002M: GARF:7021-68-177]

Historical note

Vradiivka is located about 190km (123 miles) northwest of Mykolaiv. The first records showing the presence of Jews in the area go back 19the century. With the creation of the kolkhozes and agricultural colonies, many Jews moved in the area. Vradiivka was home to Ukrainians, Moldovans, Sedentary Gypsies and Jews, who remained the minority to the non-Jewish population. A much bigger Jewish community (at the beginning of 20th century they represented 70% of the total population) lived in Kryve Ozero, located 20 km northwest of Vradiivka. The majority of Jews who lived in Vradiivka lived off small scale trade, owning shops or working in agriculture. According to the local residents, there were at least five kolkhozes in the area. The Jewish community in Vradiivka lived mainly in the centre. They had their own cemetery and prayer houses. Jewish children went to the same school as non-Jews. Only a few Jewish families lived in Berizky. There was no synagogue and no cemetery there.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Vradiivka and Berizky were occupied by the German army, followed by the Romanian army on August 14th 1941. The Jews continued to live in their houses without being registered, even though in Kryve Ozero all the Jews were registered and marked. The mass execution started in the mid-October 1941. The remaining Jews were first gathered either near the building of a former synagogue in case of Kryve Ozero; or at the school building, in the case of Jews from Lukanivka, under the pretext of the future resettlement. Once gathered, they were taken by cart to the ravine, located near the anti-tank ditches on the outskirts of Berizky. They were shot in groups of 10-15 people with a sub machine gun. According to the archives, they were forced to strip naked before being killed. Supposedly, children were thrown alive into the pit. The shootings were conducted over the course of several days by a SS unit assisted by Police battalion 314 and local police. In all, 131 Jews from Bahachivka, 156 Jews from Lukanivka [Manshurovo back then] and about 30 Jews from Sekretarka were shot. From the autumn of 1941 to the beginning of 1942, all the remaining Jews from Berizky and nearby villages were rounded up and confined into the hospital building. Several dozen Jews died as a result of typhus. Their corpses were taken and buried in the anti-tank ditch on the outskirts of the village in the direction of Berizky. Those who survived the typhus outbreak, about 250 Jews, were taken in the direction of Vradiivka and shot. Today, there is memorial with a much larger victim count. We believe that this number was taken from the Soviet archives and includes all the victims of the district, including those who died from typhus.

As well as the mass execution at the ravine, Yahad - In Unum was able to identify isolated killing sites of people from the numerous columns that passed by Berizky. The columns continued to pass through the area even after the executions. They were most probably were Bessarabian Jews being taken to one of the numerous camps in the area, such as in Domanivka and Bohdanivka. From the testimonies of the survivors and bystanders, we know that Jews who were too weak to walk were shot dead on the spot and left by the road. Their bodies were buried by locals, very often at the same place where they were shot.

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