2 Execution site(s)
Valentina F., born in 1936: “My mother was the head of the small kolkhoz and the representative of the communist party. We had to flee and hide because the Germans wanted to kill my family. I saw the Germans killing many Jews, I especially remember this man with a flask. He dipped a stick into the flask and then put it in the Jewish children’s mouths. It was poison. The adults were shot.” (Witness YIU/267R, interviewed in Petropavlovskaya, on April 1st, 2012)
“The German military command made the district’s Jewish population, under threat of being shot, evacuate to less populated districts. German soldiers and officers under the command of Kommandant G.S. arrested the district’s entire Jewish population and sent them to the stanitsa Petropavlovskaya with the help of the police. […] There were a lot of women with children and teenagers among the arrested Jewish population. Through witness statements it was established that no less than 3,000 Soviet citizens were arrested. […] In September 1942, the German executioners, after robbing the detainees, took them to the brick factory in the stanitsa Petropavlovskaya, three kilometers east of the stanitsa, and shot them there. The bodies of the executed Soviet citizens were thrown into the foundation ditch of the brick factory, measuring 370 cube meters, dug up to build the brick factory’s oven.” [Act drawn up on August 25, 1943, by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK); GARF 7021-16-8, p.237]
Petropavlovskaya is a village (stanitsa) in Kurganinsk district, Krasnodar region, southwest Russia. It is located about 140 km (87mi) east of the city of Krasnodar. Petropavlovskaya, originally a Cossack village, was officially founded in 1845. Because the village was outside the Pale of Settlement at the time of the Russian Empire, no Jewish community settled there until the Bolshevik Revolution, and even then the community was very small. There might have been a synagogue in the village, as one witness explained to Yahad - In Unum. As the war started between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941 however, many Jews fled eastward and sought refuge in the Krasnodar region and in Petropavlovskaya. There was also a nomadic Roma community in the district before the war. In winter, they settled alongside the villagers, but in spring and summer they led a nomadic life.
German forces took over Petropavlovskaya in early August 1942. They robbed the population of their belongings and food and settled in the best houses. They were assisted by auxiliary police force they set up. One witness interviewed by Yahad - In Unum recalled how the Germans threatened the population by announcing on the radio that for every German killed, 100 people would be shot. In September 1942, the Germans set out to round up and execute all the Jews present in town. Several executions took place over course of the six months of German occupation in Petropavlovskaya. During the first Aktion, the Germans rounded up all the Jews they could find – circa. 700 people – in Petropavlovskaya and the Kurganinsk district, arresting them directly in their homes. Special SS units assisted the Wehrmacht and the auxiliary police. They took all of the Jews’ belongings and valuables and gathered them on carts. The Jews were detained inside the house of culture and/or police building guarded by the Germans and local policemen. They were locked inside the building for a couple of days. They were not given any food while detained. Roma people were also arrested. Before taking them to the execution site, the Jews and Roma were assembled on the main square (where the building they were imprisoned in was located) and had to listen to a speech given by the German Kommandant, translated by an interpreter. Then they had to walk 3-4 km up to the execution site at the brick factory. The men and women were shot, the children were poisoned. A man went from child to child, all in a row, dip a stick into a flask and then spread the stick and the poison under the children’s nose and on their mouth. All the bodies were dumped into a pre-existing foundation ditch. The mass grave was apparently filled in with a tractor afterwards. A few communist party members were also rounded up and killed at the brick factory. The second mass shooting took place that same month. Again, Jews were gathered from surrounding villages in Petropavlovskaya and locked inside the house of culture building for a few days. They were then taken to a field with silos on the ‘Stalin’ kolkhoz in trucks, where they were shot. Children were poisoned using the same method as described above. A silo trench was used as a mass grave. There were also slightly smaller-scale shootings at another location, next to wells near the kolkhoz fields. There might have been more than one mass shooting at this location. Jews – men, women, and children – were taken by truck and shot directly next to the wells, their bodies then being thrown into them. Some were thrown into the wells alive. Petropavlovlskaya was liberated by the Red Army in January 1943. In total, about 3,000 people, mostly Jews, were killed in Petropavlovskaya, as determined by the Soviet Extraordinary Commission during their investigation in 1943.
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