1 Execution site(s)
Valentyna Z., born in 1929, remembered: “I was playing outside with a group of children when I saw the column of Jews lead by the Germans with dogs. The Germans walked at the head and at the end of the column which consisted of about 13 barefoot men and women. They were on foot. They were middle-aged people, 30 years and older. The column passed in front of the hospital towards the ravine. It was probably in autumn of the first year of occupation, it was cold but it was not snowing and the victims wore coats and jackets. They moved calmly, talking to each other. They did not bring anything with them. I think they had been gathered in the police building before being brought there.
The adults told us that Jews were brought to the ravine to be shot there. Once the column passed, I heard shots. When everything finished I went to that place to take a look. On the hill at the edge of the ravine I saw a dead woman dressed in warm clothes. It was not the last execution at that place.” (Testimony n°2242, interviewed in Krolevets on 13 June, 2017)
“At the end of November 1941, I saw 15 German SS men convoyed a group of more than 70 Jews, among whom there were elderly people and children. The policemen […] and former police chief […] formed the cordon around the ravine and did not let anyone come near. But I was in the grove of the kolkhoz and I saw everything. The Jews were forced to undress (some were not forced because they did not have good enough quality clothing) and were shot with rifles and submachine guns. As for the children, the SS put them on their bayonets, and threw them alive in the pit. After the shooting, the police loaded the clothes onto the carts and took them to the city.” [Deposition of a local villager A.F. Siry given to the State Extraordinary Commission; RG22.002M: 7021- 74-482B]
Krolevets is located on the banks of the Svydnya and Ret river, 149 km north-west of Sumy. The first records about the local Jewish population date back to 1735. In the the mid-19th century the Jews lived off trade and handcraft. Many Jews owned local industries such as distillery, tannery, steam mill and pearling mill. At the time, there was one wooden and two concrete synagogues in Krolevets. The Jewish population suffered through two pogroms conducted in 1905 and then in1919 during which several Jewish shops and houses were plundered. According to the census, in 1939 619 Jews lived in Krolevets comprising only 5% of the total population. Krolevets was occupied by the German troops on September 3rd, 1941.
A month after the Germans arrived, all Jews were registered and marked with armbands; they were also required to perform manual labor. Through the accounts of the local witnesses and Yahad field work we were able to discover that several executions were conducted in Krolevets by the Germans, assisted by local police. Besides the Jewish victims, there were also Roma and communists as well. The first shooting took place in November 1941. During this execution, 72 local Jews and one Roma woman, who had been previously gathered at the police office, were executed in the pit dug in advance in the ravine at the bottom of the hill. Before the execution the victims were forced to undress. On July 31st, 1942 a working battalion of 600 Hungarian Jews arrived in Krolevets. These Jews were shot in 1943 along with 250 Hungarian Jews executed in Sumy. According to historical sources on January 7th, 1943, 46 Roma people from the village of Leninske, situated 15 km south-west of Krolevets, were shot in Krolevets. A local villager interviewed by Yahad, helped us to establish that there was an execution of 285 civilians, mostly the communists, at the orthodox cemetery on January 11th, 1943.
For more information about the shootings in Sumy please refer to the corresponding profile.
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