Dunilovichi (Dunilowicze, Dunilowichy) | Vitebsk

Execution of Jews in Dunilovichi

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Meadow near the orthodox and catholic cemetery/Pineforest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
829-900/1 Jewish man

Witness interview

Edmond Sh., born in 1925: “A Jew, Yankel, escaped from the ghetto in Dunilovichi with his wife and son and made a shelter in the forest located 2 km away from the village. Locals brought food for them. The escapees survived, emigrated Israel and sent many gifts to their rescuers.” (Testimony n°884, interviewed in Dunilovochi, on May 13, 2016)

Soviet archives

“During the German occupation, about 15 days after their arrival, the Jewish population of Dunilovichi started to be abused and tortured. Any man could be beaten on the street simply because of his origin, because he was Jewish. […]
On the night of November 21, thirty SD members arrived at the ghetto, accompanied by 70 local policemen. Once the ghetto was surrounded, they started to fire with submachine guns into the houses. Then, all Jews, about 500 in all, were forced out of their homes. Everyone was forced out, undressed and shot with a submachine gun. I was undressed as well, but I decided to run away. When they opened the door, I escaped and ran away. They fired at me but the bullet hit my left ear. However, I pretended to be dead. Then at night, I managed with great effort to free myself from corpses and to get out of the pit. […]
Later, when it was calm again, I got up and went to my friend’s house and hid with him in his fireplace. We spent 4 days without food. We had to move out. While we were hiding in this fireplace we heard gunfire, they were chasing the survivors.
There were about 900 people in the ghetto, 628 were shot, 200 were burned alive in their houses and about 72 managed to save themselves, among them 50 survived and others were captured on the road.” [Interrogatory report of Jewish survivor, Moisei T., taken on April 9, 1944, by State Extraordinary Commission; RG22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 92, Delo 216]

Historical note

Dunilovichi is located about 130km north of Minsk and about 193km west of Vitebsk. In 1847, there were 326 Jews in the village and 685 in 1931. The majority of Jews lived off small trade: many of them were artisans, or doctors. They lived in the center of the village. In September 1915, the Jewish population suffered from pogroms carried out by Cossacks. After that, the number of Jews dropped significantly as they relocated. There were 3 synagogues in the village, 3 Heders and a number of different youth organizations. About 1,000 Jews lived in the village on the eve of the war. The Germans occupied the region in late June 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Soon after the Germans’ arrival they started to humiliate and abuse the Jews. For about a year, the Jews were able to live freely, but had to wear distinguishing badges on their backs. In January 1942, the Jews were gathered in a ghetto, located between Pashovskaya street and Glubokaya street, near the lake. It was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by local policemen. The non-Jewish locals who lived on that territory beforehand had to move. While living in the ghetto, the Jews were taken for different kinds of forced labor, like street cleaning, cleaning the lake and road building. 

The ghetto was liquidated on November 21, 1942. 30 Germans arrived from Glubokoye to carry out the liquidation. Once the ghetto was surrounded, they started to shoot and set the ghetto on fire.  Jews who tried to escape were shot on the spot. Their bodies were later taken and buried in a mass grave. According to different sources, 829 (according to the monument) to 900 Jews (according to the archives) were murdered during the liquidation of the ghetto, which lasted several days. There were children, women and men among the victims. From the accounts of local witnesses, we found out that the day after the shooting, the partisans attacked Dunilovichi. Several Germans were killed. As a result, the Germans burned down the ghetto and the whole town of Dunilovichi was set on fire.

According to witnesses, there were several isolated shootings conducted by Germans which lasted until the fall of 1943. In the fall 1943, the Germans shot 20 Jews, assisted by the local police. Some of the Jews managed to escape, but the corpses of those that were killed were buried in the village by local people.

Jewishgen

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