Beryslav (Berislaw, Beryslaw) | Kherson

Execution of Jews in Beryslav

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Memorials :
Number of victims :
Over 300

Witness interview

Fedir Y., born in 1924, rremembers: “I saw a column of Jews pass by my house. It was in the summer, shortly after the occupation. The Jews in the column were carrying loads bundled up. Due to their orders, they had taken all their valuables with them; they thought they would be resettled somewhere. There were men, women and children. Everyone was marching. The column was escorted by local policemen and the Germans who were also on foot. They went towards the Jewish cemetery, to the ravine. Once there, the Jews had to undress at the edge of the ravine and leave their clothes in a pile. They were then forced to get down inside the ravine in groups of tens. When one group was killed the next group had to get down in the ravine and stand on top of the corpses of the previous group. I could hear the gunshots firing from there. At the end of the shooting, the Germans searched Jewish clothes looking for valuables and left, leaving the clothes on site. About a hundred Jews were shot that day.” (Testimony n°2186, interviewed in Beryslav on May 12th, 2017)

Soviet archives

“I was ordered to take a shovel and come work. When I arrived at the police station, around forty men had already been waiting there. We were all taken towards the slaughter house by the police. When we reached the cattle farm we stopped. About 30 minutes later, a large group of about 400 Jews were brought to the ravine, located close to the cattle farm, by the Germans. There were men, women, children of all ages and elderly people. The Jews stopped at the edge of the ravine, then, in groups of 15-20 people, they were brought to the bottom of the ravine. The Jews screamed and cried. They refused to go down inside the ravine. The police and the Germans beat them with the butts of their weapons. While a group of Jews were going down into the ravine, the Germans fired with two or three machine guns. 15 or 20 minutes later, when the last group of Jews descended into the ravine, the police forced all men sitting near the cattle farm to approach the ravine. As we came closer, we saw all the Jews lying in two rows at the bottom of the ravine. Some Jews were still moving. A German officer walked among the bodies finished off with gun those who were moving. Then, we were ordered to cover the bodies with earth. Before being shot, the Jews had to disrobe to their underwear. Their clothes were put on the pile at the edge of the ravine. [...] There were about twenty Germans who escorted and shot the Jews. Besides that, there were about 50 curious Germans who came to watch the execution. [...] I didn’t see any other crimes, but people said that Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war were shot in the second ravine about 800 meters from the city. People also say that a group of Roma was shot there. [...]” [Deposition of requisitioned citizen Pantalei S., born in 1903, given to the State Extraordinary Commission on September 2nd, 1944; RG 22.002M:7021-77-404]

Historical note

Beryslav, founded in the 15th century, is located 77 km north-east of Kherson. It is the administrative center of the Beryslav district. The first record of the local Jewish community dates back to the early 19th century. In 1856, there were 2 synagogues in Beryslav. The Jewish population suffered from pogrom conducted in 1882, as well as from several pogroms during the civil war in Russia. In 1897, 2,642 Jews lived in Beryslav, making up 22% of the total population. The main activities of Jews in that period were trade of cereals, agricultural products, clothing and footwear manufacturing and repairing. The Jewish citizens owned about 100 craft enterprises including the agricultural machinery plant. At the end of the 19th - early 20th century there were three synagogues, several cheders, three private all-male schools and one mixed. In 1907, a local branch of the organization “Poale Zion” operated out of Beryslav. In 1910, 2,000 Jews lived in the city. Throughout the 1920-30s there was a local school that taught Yiddish. At the same time, several kolkhozes were established in Beryslav by the Jewish community. In the 1920s, all synagogues were closed. According to the census of 1939, only 3% of the total population was Jews (230 Jews lived in the town). Beryslav was occupied by the German forces on August 29th, 1941. By that time, many Jewish refugees arrived to the town hoping to move further to the East shortly.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Three weeks after the invasion the mass execution was conducted on September 22nd, 1941, against 400 Jews and Soviet prisoners of war who were murdered in the ravines. According to local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, prior to the shooting all the Jews were confined in the local clinic for several days. At least 200 of the 400 Jews enclosed there were Jewish refugees native from Western Ukraine and Odesa. While the adults were shot dead at the edge of the ravine, the children were poisoned and thrown directly into the ditch. All the witnesses interviewed by Yahad confirm that several isolated shootings also took place in the city. Such of the isolated shooting that took place on October 3rd, 1941, against 17 Jews. According to the Soviet archives and Yahad research results, besides the 400 Jews and 1,200 Soviet prisoners of war, several Roma families were murdered in Beryslav as well.


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