1 Execution site(s)
Svitlana D. born in 1927, remembers: “I didn’t see the execution itself, but I came to that place afterwards to take a look. When we got there, we could see children’s hands and legs coming out of the ground. The pit was not covered well. Near the pit, there were piles of clothes and shoes. I think they were forced to undress before being killed. As far as I could determine, the pit measures about 10m long and it was not very deep. I know that afterwards, the prisoners of war were requisitioned to fill the pit in. ” (Witness n°1919, interviewed in Semenivka, on Ocotober 15, 2015)
The members of the SS Wiking division killed and burnt alive the villagers of Bolshye Lypniagy. […] They also killed and tortured to death 50 villagers of Semionovka […]” (Act of the Red Army Commission drawn up in Bolshye Lypniagy, on September 23, 1943: Red Army Archives: Fond 236, Opis 2675, Delo 42, p.247)
Semenivka is located on the banks of the Kryva Ruda River, about 134km (63miles) west of Poltava. The first known Jewish Community appeared in 19th century. According to the census in 1926, 443 Jews lived in Semenivka, which represented about 10% of the total population. The Jews in Semenivka were mostly artisans or worked in commerce. Some worked in the factories, such as the sugar factory. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, there was a wooden synagogue in the village center before the war. On September 12, 1941, the German troops occupied the village.
Little is known from the historical sources about the fate of the Jews in Semenivka. Thanks to Yahad’s fieldwork, we know that all the Jews as well as the communists were forced to register shortly after the Germans’ arrival. A special registration point was set up at the school. Once the Jews presented, themselves they were confined in the building. Those who didn’t show up on their own were taken by force in trucks by the policemen and the Germans. The execution took place in late fall behind the sugar factory. Before being killed, it is said that they were forced to undress. From the witnesses’ accounts, the children were not shot but thrown alive into the pit. The pit was covered afterwards by the prisoners of war. The prisoners of war camp was established on the territory of the sugar factory.
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