Buky (Buki) | Cherkasy

Execution of Jews in Buky

3 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Quarry (1,2); Jewish cemetery (3)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Several hundreds

Witness interview

Lyudmyla P., born in 1928: “Y. U. : “And what did the Jews do ?
Witness : Jews did all kinds of activities, how to say … they were engaged in handicrafts, they didn’t create the cooperatives, although there were separate kolkhoz’ groups, but mostly they were each engaged in their own work. They were tailors, shoemakers, glaziers, generally they were engaged in various crafts.
Y. U. : Do you remember any names or surnames of Jews who lived here before the war?
Witness : I remember well the names of those Jews who lived here before and after the war. For example, there was Zhyhun Levko.
Y. U. : What did he do before the war ?
Witness : He made women’s winter clothes.
Y. U. : Did you go to the Jewish shops ?
Witness : Before and after the war, there were no Jewish shops. Then there were state shops, but Jews worked in these shops. There was also a Jew called Zernitsky, but I don’t know his name. He was in charge of the grocery store. Back then there was a household store on this corner, then there was a building material store, then there were some other stores.
Y. U. : Did the Jews have a rabbi?
Witness : Of course, they did. While there was a synagogue, there was a rabbi then, and when the synagogue was turned into a community center (Klub), there was no rabbi then. When the synagogue was turned into a Klub, then the Orthodox church across the street was completely dismantled.
Y. U. : Before the war, did you go to school?
Witness : Yes, I finished five classes.
Y. U. : Were there Jewish children in your school or did they have a separate school?
Witness : No, there was one school, Jewish children studied with us, five-eight children in each class.
Y. U. : Do you remember the names of your Jewish classmates?
Witness: Yes, I remember. I studied with Kohan Iukhym Orysovych, and Zhyhun Bronislava Levkivna; I’ve mentioned her father. There were only these two Jewish children in our class. In the other class, there was Viderman Bronislava Musiivna, Zernitska Shelia, and there were others, but I don’t remember them. There were also Zubata Dora et Zubata Klara.” (Witness n°2714U, interviewed in Buky, on November 7, 2019)

Soviet archives

“On this date the excavation of three pits on the territory of the Buki cemetery was carried out. A total of 74 bodies were discovered in the three pits. There are 36 bodies in pit n°1, 22 bodies in pit n°2; and 16 bodies in pit n°3. Since most of the bodies had totally decomposed and fallen to pieces when they were raised, it is impossible to further exhume them. The commission concludes that the death of most of the people in the pits occurred as a result of heavy damage to various parts of the body caused by very forceful blows of blunt weapons. Some [of the people] were first subjected to brutal torture and then shot.” [Report drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK), on April 15, 1944; GARF 7021-65-241]

German archives

“The Company that had been sent, arrived in Buki [sic] on November 2, 1941 at 12:15 pm. […] On November 5, 1941 the locality of Buki was searched with the participation of the [German] agricultural leader and the Ukrainian locality chief, as well as of the [local] auxiliary police of Buki. It was determined that numerous Jews and other locals were supplying foodstuffs to the partisans, informing them about the Company’s whereabouts, and also were planning terror attacks. Based on the interrogations of the culprits and other suspicious persons on whom weapons were found and who were unable to identify themselves, [it was concluded that] a total of 137 people, Jews and Christians, were executed.” [From the reports and orders of the 454th Security Division, Activity report of the Commander of the 50th Royal Hungarian Battalion Major Sakh, drawn up on November 8, 1941; BA-MA RH 26-454/8]

Historical note

Buky is located 150km(93mi) southwest of Cherkasy and 45km(28mi) north of Uman. The foist records about the Jewish community in Buky goes back to the late 18th century. In the beginning the community was small, but by 1897 it grew and comprised almost 60% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived in the center of the village and were involved in small scale trade. There were many craftsmen among them as well. They had a synagogue, or a prayer house, a cemetery, and Jewish schools. The community suffered during the Civil War (1919-1920) as they were attacked by different warring parties. As a result of the insecurity, many Jews chose to leave the village, especially the young ones, looking for more opportunities in the bigger towns. As a result, the Jewish population dropped drastically, and on the eve of the war only 18% of the population was Jewish.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Buky was occupied by Germans on July 22, 1941. Supposedly some Jews succeeded in fleeing when they understood what was happening.

According to the German and Hungarian archives, on November 5, 1941, members of a company of the 50th Royal Hungarian Battalion murdered more than 100 Jews and non-Jews of Buky for allegedly helping the partisans. The shooting took place at the Jewish cemetery. After the war, the Soviet Extraordinary Commission identified three mass graves. After having opened them, 74 bodies were discovered.

In late 1941, another massacre took place. According to the local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, several hundred local Jews were murdered by the Hungarians. We can assume that they were the members of the same 50th Royal Hungarian Battalion. The shootings lasted several days. With the help of the eyewitnesses Y ahad-In Unum managed not only to identify the places, but also to reconstruct the crime scene and the steps. On the day of the execution, the Jews were forced out of their houses and gathered at one place. Then, they were taken to the quarry, close to the MTS (Machine Tractor Service) located 500m away from the Buky center. Once there, a group of Jews was selected and forced to dig a pit inside the quarry. Then, they were forced to undress, get in groups of twenty, line up on the edge of the pit with backs to the shooters. The shooting was conducted by several Hungarians who fired from submachine guns. Those Jews who were not shot during this massacre were taken to the Klub, located 1,5km away from the Buky center. In April 1942, a forced labor camp was created there. Several dozens of Jews were displaced there from the surrounding villages, such as Mankivka, Piatyhory. Those fit to work were subjected to break the stones and work on the road constructions. Those who were too weak to work, according to some estimation they were 150, were taken to the quarry, the part close to the Antonivka forest and shot in May 1942. The remaining camp’s inmates were first liberated by the partisans, but then recaptured and detained in the same building before being shot shortly after that in 1943.

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