1 Execution site(s)
Valentyna K., born in 1932: “We were taken there by the police and the Germans with their dogs. We were forced to watch, but we all turned around and hid our faces in our mothers’ skirts. They forced the Jews to undress. After the shooting, they threw dirt on their bodies, it was horrible. Some were wounded, but still alive. It is said that the earth was moving for three days. I never went to see for myself because my mother would not let me go anywhere on my own. She didn’t want to go anywhere herself either, because she looked like a Jew. She had black hair.” (Witness n°2933U, interviewed in Rokytne on August 20, 2021)
Rokytne is a town located in the Kyiv region, 85 km (52 miles) south of the capital in central Ukraine. Before the war, the village was mostly populated by Ukrainians, but there were Jewish and Polish minorities. In 1901, 105 Jews lived in the town, making up only 3% of the total population. By 1926, the community had grown and represented almost 20% of the total population, numbering 663 individuals. The Rokytne Jews earned their living as manufacturers of diverse products like tar, glass and windmills. There were also many Jewish tailors, shoemakers, hairdressers or accountants. There was no synagogue, but the Jews did pray in a private house. There was also a Jewish cemetery. All the children went to the same school. Roma people also lived in the village. The men worked with horses and the women read fortunes.
On June 22, 1941, the German army and their allies began their invasion of the USSR. Before the Germans arrived, some of the Jews fled to the east. According to estimations, circa. 263 Jews remained in the village before the invasion. At the end of July 1941, the village was captured. The German authorities immediately established a local auxiliary police force. The Germans resided either in the school or in the homes of local villagers. One day, between late July and early August 1941, about 150 local Jews were rounded up and taken to a pit dug 150 meters from the marketplace. In front of several villagers, who were forced to watch, the victims were ordered to undress and then to go down into the ditch. They were shot by about fifteen people, most of whom were police officers.
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