Petrovichi | Smolensk

The execution site of about 230 Jews murdered here on June 2, 1942 (or June 22, 1942 according to the memorial). © Thomas Cecchelani /Yahad-In Unum “At this place the Soviet civilians murdered on June 22, 1942, are buried.” © Thomas Cecchelani /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Petrovichi

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 400

Soviet archives

“In May 1942 [illegible] Germans gathered young people, from the age of 16 to older people up to the age of 50, 170 civilian Jews, who were taken to the Roslavl Gestapo, where they were shot.
On June 2, 1942 the remaining Jews of Petrovichi, numbering 230, were gathered on Khislavichi Street and then taken to a forge behind a mill southeast of the village. There, they were shot early in the morning of June 3, 1942. Hereby there are the lists of the shooting victims and the deportees.” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission, in October 1943; GARF 7021- 44-635]

Historical note

Petrovichi is located 90 km (56 mi) south of Smolensk and 16 km (10 mi) east of the border between Belarus and Russia. The first records about the Jewish community in the village go back to the late 17th century.  By 1897, the Jewish community represented almost 74% of the total population (1,065 Jews). Isaac Asimov, a famous American science-fiction author, was born in the village in 1920. By 1920, 930 Jews lived in the village. They had their own synagogue, Jewish cemetery and Yiddish school. On the eve of the war, a little bit more than 400 Jews remained in the village.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Petrovichi was occupied by the Germans on August 2, 1941. Shortly after their arrival, a ghetto was established on the street where the Jews resided before. Those who didn’t live there were forced to move in. This created the overcrowding conditions in the ghetto. The Jewish inmates, the majority of whom were children, teens and women, were subjected to forced labor, robberies and different forms of humiliation. According to historian Martin Dean, Jewish girls were systematically raped by Germans and local police.

The Jewish community of Petrovichi was exterminated in two aktions. The first one was carried out on May 31, 1942. During this mass execution, 100 to 170 Jews, aged from 16 to 50, were rounded-up and taken to the Roslavl Gestapo where they were shot. The shooting was conducted by the members of Sonderkommando 7c. The remaining Jews, about 230, were murdered on July 22 (according to the Soviet archives on June 2), 1942. Before being shot, the Jews were forced to undress and were lined up at the edge of the pit. The last ones to be killed were the specialists who remained for a while in the ghetto after the second aktion.

Nearby villages

To support the work of Yahad-in Unum please consider making a donation

Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?

Please contact us at
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17