2 Execution site(s)
Mykola B., born in 1927: “Y. U. How did it happen?
Witness: They didn’t go there by themselves! It was the police who went to look for them in their houses, who rounded them up, who guarded them before they were taken there all together. They were forced inside this cellar, walled up and that was it!
Y. U. Did they have to put down their bags before entering the cellars?
Witness: (The witness did not hear the translator) What? But no! Nobody told them anything! They were put [in the cellar] without anything! They were chased out of their houses. They were rounded up and everything was left in the houses [all their belongings]!
Y. U. Did they start taking them away in the morning or in the afternoon?
Witness: All day long! All day until the evening, until they put them all in the cellar and sealed it [the entrance].
Translator: Did it start in the morning?
Y. U. And did you see this?
Y. U. U.: Was there a leader or an officer to coordinate all this?
Witness: The Germans did it.
Translator: But was there only one leader?
Witness: Yes, of course! There were Germans and policemen.” (Witness n°609U, interviewed in Sataniv, on May 25,2008)
“We members of the commission who have signed our names below […] of the town of Satanov compiled the present document, following the excavation of a cellar located in the center of the town, south of Market Square, which was a flattened area that rose 75 meters above the surface of the ground. The cellar was tightly closed from all sides. The entrance to the cellar was from the southern side and there was a trap door on the northern one. An attempt to excavate from the side of the entrance did not succeed since, as we later found, the entrance of the doors was blocked by corpses. Then we succeeded in opening the cellar from the side of the trap door. That revealed the following: the cellar was 10 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 3 meters high. Also, on the right side the cellar had another section whose dimensions were the same as the original cellar. Entering the cellar from the side of the trap door revealed more than 2,000 [Note: 200] human bodies. At the entrance there lay individual bodies of women and children; however, as one got closer to the exit, their number increased and [they] were piled on top of each other. On the bodies wore various items of civilian clothing. The bodies still resembled human beings. Among the bodies were those of many women, children, and old people. All the bodies were scattered in disarray, reflecting the efforts [of the victims] to get out. This indicates that the people were forced into the cellar alive, after which it was closed tight. The supply of air was cut off, which led to death by slow suffocation. The state of the corpses, that had begun to decay, indicates that this atrocity of the fascist barbarians took place approximately two years ago.” [Act drawn by the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on June 20, TsGAOOU 166-3-215]
Sataniv is a town located 60 km (37mi) west of Khmelnytskyi. Before 1793, the town was part of Poland. The first Jews started to settle in Sataniv in the 16th century. Although the community suffered greatly from the pogroms of 1648-1649, it continued and to grow. In the 1730s, 1,369 Jews lived in the town. By 1897, the Jewish population numbered 2,848, comprising 65 percent of the town’s total population. David Vogel, a Hebrew poet, was native to Sataniv. He was arrested in France and sent to Auschwitz where he was murdered. At the beginning of twentieth century, approximate 3,000 Jews lived in Sataniv, representing two-thirds of the town’s total population. Most of jews lived off small scale trade or handicraft. In the period 1910-1915 there was a Talmud Torah and a school for girls. In 1921, the town of Sataniv was incorporated in the Soviet Union. Artisans were united in state owned cooperative and all small business were nationalized. On the eve of the war, in 1939, the town’s Jewish population numbered 1,516 Jews, making up 48% of the total population.
Sataniv was occupied by German forces on July 6, 1941. During the first days of the occupation, several Jews were killed. According to the Soviet archives the main mass execution was conducted on May 15, 1942, although several witnesses interviewed by Yahad described the Aktion as taking place shortly after the German arrival. During this Aktion German gendarmes accompanied by local police rounded up about 200-240 Jews - women, children and elderly people included - from their homes and took them to a cellar, where they were locked up, causing death by suffocation or starvation. Apparently in 1942, a group of Jews was taken to the town of Yarmolyntsi, where they were shot to death, along with Jews from nearby towns. According to the archives, a group of 180 Jews was shot near the old synagogue, although the field research carried out by Yahad in 2005 and 2008 was unable to confirm this, nor identify the location.
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