Pukhovichi (Pukhavichy, Puchavičy, Puchowicze) | Minsk

The market in Pukhovichi, 1910 © Taken from Wikipedia, Public domain Pukhovichi in 1918© Taken from Wikipedia, Public domain / Nikoay B., born in 1927: “Only the men tried to escape, the women couldn’t leave their children.” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The ghetto was located on this site. About 850 Pukhovichi Jews were confined there.  © Jethro Massey© Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The local orthodox church © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum A witness brings Yahad team to the ancient Jewish cemetery in Pukhovichi to show us the mass grave of 85 Jewish men © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The mass grave containing the remains of 1,260 Jews native from Pukhovichi and Mariina Gorka.   © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Sketch of the Popova Gorka execution site GARF 7021-87-12; copy YVA JM/20009 ©Taken from Yad Vashem website At this Jewish cemetery 97 Jews were shot by the Germans, assisted by the local police. They were buried by requisitioned villagers. ©  Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Sketch of the Jewish cemetery execution site in Pukhovichi GARF 7021-87-12; copy YVA JM/20009 ©Taken from Yad Vashem website

Execution of Jews from Pukhovichi and Maryina Gorka in Pukhovichi

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery (1); Unknown(2)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
97/1,260

Witness interview

Nikoay B., born in 1927: “All the Pukhovichi Jews were rounded up and taken to a place called Dubrava, it’s located near the sovkhoz. But back then there was a writers’ house at that place. They set up a ghetto and all the local Jews were displaced there. There were several buildings fenced in with barbed wire. The Jews stayed there for about a month before the shooting. They were told what to take with them to the ghetto. They didn’t take much: only valuables, blankets and some clothing. All the property was confiscated afterwards.” (Witness n°955, interviewed in Pukhovichi, on August 12, 2017)

Soviet archives

“[...] On 17 [the month is unknown] 1941, the German punitive detachment arrived in Pukhovichi and savagely massacred 97 civilian Soviet citizens, inhabitants of Pukhovichi. The victims were buried at the execution site located near the old Jewish cemetery. The pit measuring 2 meters wide and 25 meters long is located in the field, south-east of the ravine, 20 meters to the east. [...]” [Act of the State Extraordinary Commission (GhGK), drawn up on September 27, 1944; RG 22.002M: 7021-89-12]

Historical note

Pukhovichi is located 61 km south-east of Minsk. The first known record about the Jewish community goes back to the second part of the 16th century. According to the historical sources 1,671 Jews lived in the village in 1900, comprising 91% of the total population. In 1912 a Jewish loan-saving partnership operated, and in 1913 a Jewish library was opened. In 1913 the Jews owned the only warehouse of pharmacy goods and 25 stores including eight grocery stores, a liquor store, book stores, and a tobacconist. Other Jews were artisans, such as tailors or shoemakers. In the autumn of 1915, when the front line approached, Jews were resettled from Pukhovichi. In 1919 Pukhovichi was taken over by the Soviet Union. During this period a Yiddish school was established in the village. In 1920 the Jewish population suffered from a pogrom. As a result many Jews left Pukhovichi. In 1926 the Jewish population numbered 929 people comprising only 43% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Germans occupied the town at the end of June 1941. Soon after the occupation the Germans appointed a starosta. Later all the Jews were told to take their valuables and were confined into a ghetto surrounded with barbed wire where they stayed about a month. On August 17, 1941, the first Jews were executed. According to the Soviet commission 97 Jews were taken to the Jewish cemetery, located about one km from the ghetto, and shot there by the Germans who arrived for this purpose from Minsk assisted by the police. The local villagers were requisitioned to bury their corpses. The remaining 850 people were taken to the village of Blon on September 22, 1941 (according to another source, September 28), where they were killed along with the Jews from Mariina Gorka in the place called Popova Gorka. The shooting was carried out by German gendarmerie and members of Security Police who arrived for this purpose from Minsk. In all, 1,260 Jews were murdered in Popova Gorka. 

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