1 Execution site(s)
Raissa S., born in 1930: “Y.U.: Were there Jews in your class?
Witness: Babynichi was a Jewish borough, but in our village lived Belarusians. But mainly, there were Jews in the village, here. There were children and we had good relations with them, and between the families; they helped us the way they could, and our women would sell them things… it was before the war. And we were going to school. Our school had been built ten years earlier. There were nine or ten classes.
Translator: And so there also were Jews in your class, right?
Witness: Yes. In our class, there were two Jewish boys, in the second class. There were two boys. Ger… Geri… Wait, I’ll remember. Hoffman Girsha. A good boy. And Itsik. This one was naughtier. But had good relations. They helped. And in general, the Jews were very good people. They were on good terms with us, Belarusians. […
Translator: And do you know what their professions were?
Witness: Some worked in the workshop and some worked in the shoe repair shop. Their children… well… they studied until the 8th class. […] They were caught by the war. The Germans killed them. They were staying in the school. But while the Jews lived here, no one ever harmed them. They lived here until 1942, nobody left, and we had good relations during the war too. Our parents would sell them food, because the Jews… they didn’t have any cattle. They used to buy everything from the population. That’s it.” (Witness °1063B, interviewed din Bobynichi, on November 9, 2019)
Bobynichi is located 32 km (20 mi) southwest of Polotsk and 150km (93 mi) east north of Vitebsk. In 1920, 170 Jews lived in the village out of 219. According to the local villagers interviewed by Yahad, the majority of Jews were either merchants or artisans. For instance, Yahad-In Unum’s witness n°1061B remembers a Jewish shoemaker, Mr Letmann, who was mobilized in 1941, and perished at the front. There was as well a butter factory where some of Jewish people worked. The Jewish community didn’t have a synagogue or a prayer house in Bobynichi; the nearest prayer house was located in Uschachi. However, there was a Jewish cemetery in Bobynichi. The Jewish and non-Jewish children went to the same school.
Bobynichi was occupied by the Germans in early July 1941. Straight after the occupation, the Jews continued to live in their houses without being registered and marked. They were gathered in a sort of a ghetto only one month prior to the Aktion. According to a historian, Martin Dean, the ghetto consisted of a single house which used to belong to a kolkhoz, although the local villages mentioned that that was a school building. After being confined there for a month, on January 15, 1942, about 108 Jewish inmates, mainly women, children and elders, were taken outside the village and shot to death in the field. The execution was conducted by Germans and local police who arrived most probably from Polotsk. According to Adamushko V.I., [Spravotchnik o mestakh prinouditelnogo soderjania grajdanskogo naselenia na okoupirovannoï teritorii Belaroussi 1941-1944, NARB, 2001] another execution took place before the principal, in December 1941. Unfortunately, Yahad-In Unum couldn’t find more information about this execution.
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