2 Execution site(s)
Ivan K., born in 1927, recalls: “The shootings was conducted next to the kolkhoz building located by the river. It lasted the entire day. The victims guarded by the Germans with dogs were brought to the site on foot. We saw everything because we were forced to. The Germans forced the local residents out of their houses to go watch the execution and if they refused, they were shot too. I saw shootings every day. Once, I remember the Germans brought a very beautiful girl. She was told to walk forward making nine steps and they counted aloud. She was saying goodbye to her homeland and to the locals who remained on another side of the site. The last told her to jump straight into the pit in order to have a chance to survive, but she was shot dead. It was an isolated shooting. ” (Testimony n°706, interviewed in Cherkessk on May 15th, 2017)
“On August 19th, 1942, the commander of the city of Cherkessk, captain M., issued an order saying that all the Jewish population has to show up at the municipal administration for registration. Then, they were ordered to wear a white armband bearing a six-pointed star. In case of disobedience, as it as mentioned in the order, the death penalty would be applied. During a whole month before the arrival of the Gestapo, the Jewish population was forced by the newly elected starosta to perform all kinds of heavy labor. Many Jews were detained in a prison where they suffered from humiliation and tortures. Ten days later, all the detainees were transferred from the prison to the dormitory located on the Stalin Street n° 38. It was forbidden to leave the dormitory, except to work under the orders of the kommandant or the municipal administration. […] On Friday, September 27th, 1942, in the evening, the Jews were summoned through the starosta to present themselves with their belongings on September 28th at 10 am at the station in order to be displaced to the mentioned above colony. […] When all 820 people (mostly women, children and elderly) from the “To be sent to the colony” list arrived, they were taken to the courtyard of the railway club surrounded by the barbed wire, and their relatives and acquaintances were forbidden to enter there under penalty of death. At 12am the citizens were ordered to leave their belongings in the yard and go to the Klub building to pass the “sanitary treatment”. […] Between 1pm and 10pm, every 20-30 minutes, a truck arrived and stopped in front of the building. It was a covered truck, with a hermetically closed door. The Jews were put inside in groups of 20-25 people. Women, children and elderly people in underwear or naked were coming from the Klub building crying. From the Klub, the truck, escorted at the head and at the rear by cars with Gestapo officers, headed in the direction of the gardens of “Sadoopkhoz”. Sometime later, frightful cries were heard inside the truck; three or five minutes later, the screams stopped. On the other side of the “Sadoopkhoz” gardens, there was a previously prepared 200m2 pit, in which the above-mentioned truck unloaded the bodies of gassed victims [...].” [The State Extraordinary Commission act, drawn up on July 11th, 1943; RG 22.002M. 7021-17-12]
“During World War II I was adjutant at the Ortskommandantur I/920 from May 5th, 1941 until its dissolution in Munich in January 1944. I had the rank of Oberleutnant. [...] I remember the following things that took place during my stay in Cherkesk:
One day, an SS-Oberscharführer arrived to the Kommandantur. He spoke to the commander. He said there was a new way of dealing with the Jewish question. He asked for the Ortskommandantur’s collaboration in the registration of the Jews. The commandant ordered me to accompany this Oberscharführer to the city administration. I did it. In the city administration he ordered some Jews to help him with the registration of the Jewish population of Cherkessk. Soon after he had two or three Jews at his disposal, to whom he explained in my presence that a new treatment of the Jews would be applied. The Jews were supposed to receive meal tickets, medical care and even tobacco tickets. I don’t remember any other details of the discussion. After accompanying this SS-Oberscharführer to the city administration, I returned to the Ortskommandantur and didn’t pay any attention to the registration of the Jews. Then, I left and when I returned I was told that the registered Jews of the Cherkessk area had been killed. It was said that 550 people were killed. According to me, 350 Jews lived in Cherkessk at that time. I still remember one of the men of our unit showed me where the dead Jews had been buried. From our headquarters we could see a building where several Jewish families lived. Those people were very friendly with us and were grateful every time we greeted them. So I used to go there in the morning to greet them. When I returned from my leave, the Jewish families were no longer there. I was so shocked by this news that I cried. [...]”[Deposition of Hermann J., Ortskommandantur orderly officer; B162-1232]
Cherkessk is the capital city of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Russia. The settlement itself was found as the Cossack stanitsa on the place of a Russian military fort called Batalpashinskaya in 1825. According to the census in 1939 400 Jews lived in Cherkessk making up 1,5% of the total population. They were engaged in a small-scale trade and handcraft. After the war broke out many refugees of Jewish origin arrived to the city from Minsk, Lviv (Lwov), Dnipropetrovsk and Saint Petersburg (former Leningrad).
The city was occupied by the Wehrmacht forces on August 11th, 1942. Immediately after the occupation the Germans installed their kommandantur and appointed a new starosta. On August 19th, 1942 all refugees of Jewish origin were registered and marked with white armbands bearing the six-pointed star. They were subjected to perform manual labor. According to the testimonies and archives, all the Jews were detained in one building of the dormitory until late September. One week after second registration conducted on September 20th, 1942, the Jews were ordered to assemble at the railway station with their documents and belongings under the pretext of being resettled to a Jewish colony. But instead of that, they were confined in the building of a local Klub surrounded with barbed wire. The next day, on September 28th, 1942, the victims were murdered in gas vans and their corpses were buried in a pit located in the garden cooperative farm, Sadkoopkhoz, outside the village. The witnesses claim that some isolated executions also took place in Cherkessk. According to the Soviet archives 1,530 people, including 820 Jews, were found in 19 pits.
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