2 Execution site(s)
Leonora B., born in 1929: “YIU: Did any Jews live here before the war?
W: Yes. Our local Jews lived in the center of town, any area we often frequented. They worked in shops, schools, etc. I worked at the school, and I had Jewish children there, Sonia Bein, Klava Freintsberg… Jewish girls who went to our school. When the war started, the Hungarian Jews were brought here in trains and settled here. Some of them lived with people in the village. I don’t know how long it took, but after a while the Jews were marked with yellow patches on their backs. Our Jews were marked as well. When they were outside, they would hide. […] The Germans were after them. They would punish them, kidnap them. In short, they could do whatever they wanted. They didn’t only humiliate the Jews, but also us. That’s how it was! [For example, one day] I was still a child, and I went to the fields to pick corn. The Germans came and started shooting at us. Fortunately, we had quick reflexes and fell to the ground, that’s how we stayed alive. After all that, I don’t remember in what year the [Hungarian] Jews were taken away. They thought they would be taken home [to Hungary]. They said, "One should believe that a ransom had been paid for them and that they were going home.” They were with their children. They took their clothes, their sheets and all their belongings with them. Two or three hours later, when they had all left the village, three SS cars suddenly appeared. They went in the same direction as the Hungarian Jews. When these cars caught up with them, the Jews started to run away.” (Witness n°641U, interviewed in Orynyn, on August 12, 2008)
“East of the town of Orinin, 2 km towards the village of Zherdia, 250 m to the right of the road, there are 2 pits. - When the pits were opened, it became apparent that the pits are filled in with bodies of people who had been shot. The pits are 18 meters long, 4 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep.
According to testimonies, in the second half of June 1942, the soldiers of the German occupiers under the command of Oberlieutenant F*** and SS S*** carried out a shooting of 1,000 people from the civilian population. The shootings were carried out in pits prepared in advance. The Germans had the people undress in groups of tens, moved them onto planks placed over the pits and shot them. The people then fell into the pits, dead or half dead. According to witnesses, small children were thrown from the truck into the pit alive.
The forensic search revealed that 40 infants, 650 women, 480 men, and 580 children between the ages of 1 and 14 lay in the pits.
The exhumation of the bodies showed that the bodies are distributed in layers, one on top of the other. Most of the bullets hit the occipital part of the head or the back, the other bullets hit different parts of the body.” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) in June 1944; GARF 7021-64-803]
Orynyn is a small town located 16 km (10mi) northwest of Kamienets-Podislky. It was under Polish rule until 1793, when it was taken over by the Russian Empire. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the end of the 16th century, when the town was part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By 1887, the community had grown significantly, with 1,680 Jewish individuals living in Orynyn. There were five synagogues. According to the 1897 census, 42% of the total population was Jewish, or 2,112 individuals. The majority of the Jews lived off small scale trade and handicraft. The mills and lumberyards were owned by the Jews. In 1911, a Zionist group was formed in the town. During World War I, the Jews from Orynin were accused of espionage and sent away from the town. In 1919, the Jews who came back to Orynin suffered from the pogroms. During the 1920s, many Jews immigrated to the United States, Israel or moved to bigger cities. As a result, the population decreased to 1,630 individuals. By the end of the 1920s, the synagogues had been closed and all religious and political movements were forbidden. During the 1930s a Jewish kolkhoz “Flag of communism” was created, but not many Jews worked there. On the eve of the war, in 1939, 1,508 Jews remained in the town, comprising 25% of the total population.
Orynyn was occupied by Hungarian forces in early July 1941. By that time 10-13% of the Orynyn Jews had already managed to evacuate. In August 1941, several hundred Jews from Hungary were brought to Orynyn. They were placed with the local Jews and put to work at the farm. Two or three weeks later they were assembled under the pretext of being taken back to Hungary, but instead were taken to be shot in an earthwork, a sort of bunker. During the gathering, a few young Jews managed to escape, while others were either shot on the spot or recaptured. A local non-Jewish mechanic was shot by a stray bullet. The Hungarian Jews were shot in the entrenchment which was filled in by requestioned non-Jewish residents.
In late summer and early fall the anti-Jewish measures against the local Jews were implemented. All the Jews were marked with yellow patches on their backs. An open ghetto was established in the area where the Jews lived previously. The Jews were subjected to perform hard labor such as shoveling the streets from snow and cleaning.
On June 21, 1942, the ghetto was liquidated. The Aktion was carried out by Security Police and SD who arrived from Kamienets-Podislky with the help of the gendarmerie and local police. That day, all the Jews from the ghetto, including locals, refugees, and Jews from nearby villages were assembled at the main square under the pretext of being taken to Kamienets-Podilsky. About 250 qualified workers were selected and sent to Kamienets-Podislky, while others were taken outside the town to the pits dug in advance where they were shot. Before being shot they were forced to strip naked. According to the Soviet archives, 1,700 people - 40 newborn babies, 530 children aged 14 and under, 650 women and 480 men - were shot.
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