Teberda | Karachayevo-Cherkessia

/ View from the village of Nizhnaya Teberda on the Elbruz mountain chain © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum Irina U., born in 1930: “The only victims were the medical staff of the sanatoriums because the majority of them were Jewish.”    © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum Witness’ old photographs. © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Marima F., born in 1925: “The village was bombed at the moment the Soviets retreated but it wasn’t destroyed much”. © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum Makhmud F., born in 1929, Karachay: “The Jews wanted to evacuate further to the east; but the bridge was bombed they weren’t able to cross the river and were captured by Germans." © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with a witness during an interview © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum The member of the administration shows the place where the orphans and their tutors were killed by Germans. The coprses were reburied in Teberda. © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team with a witness during an interview © Cristian Monterroso  /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Nizhniaya Teberda

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Empty plot
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 300 adults and 54 children

Witness interview

Makhmud F., born in 1929, Karachay origine: « The orphans were brought in three carts from the direction of Karachayevsk. They wanted to evacuate further to the east; but the bridge was bombed they weren’t able to cross the river and were captured by Germans. The children were accompanied by five or six women. The children as well as their tutors were killed on a clearing. The corpses were left on the ground. There were local people who found them and buried them. For long time it was believed that they were locals who killed them, but finally it was proven they were Germans. The corpses were reburied in Teberda.” (Witness n°702,interviewed in Nizhniaya Teberda, on May 12, 2017)

Soviet archives

« On December 11, 1942, the bloody Gestapo ordered 287 Soviet citizens to present themselves the following day at 1pm at the Gestapo and to have at least over 100kg of valuables and the most necessary things in order to be sent to forced labor into the coal mines located in the region of Karachay. The bookkeeper of the Institute of tuberculosis, who was a passionate patriot, Sofia Solomonovna Farmer, aged of 36, suspecting something bad; she refused to comply with the Gestapo’s order. She went to the forest and took her own life. Another patriot, a prominent specialist of tuberculosis of the larynx, Frida Emanuilovna Belkina, also took her own life.
On December 12, 1942, at midday, the hunt for the victims started; the Gestapo soldiers beat and brought by force those who refused to be summoned to the Gestapo office. At 3pm the Germans gathered 285 Soviet citizens, including about 100 children (even the babies) in a non-heated building of the sanatorium for the researchers, called “Vagonchik”. During two days and two nights, the poor victims were suffering from cold and didn’t receive any food or water. Meanwhile the Germans stole everything from them: they confiscated money, golden and silver valuables, fur coats, etc. Those who tried to hide their belongings or didn’t want to give them were beaten. […] The German soldiers entered regularly into the building and beat the detainees to entertain themselves.” [Act drawn up by State Extraordinary commission (ChGK) on July 5, 1943, in Teberda ; RG.22-002M/Fond 7021, opis 17, delo 7]

German archives

« I know that the collaborators of SD unit arrived from the town of Mikoyan-Shaktar [today Karachayevsk] and exterminated about fifty or fifty five children in a gas van. I observed that on my own. It happened at the end of November or early December 1942, a couple of days before the shooting of Jews behind the hill in Teberda. The children, ill with tuberculosis of the bone, who had been evacuated from the Crimea beforehand were placed in two buildings of the sanatoriums “Proletar” and “Krupskaya”. They were about to get a course of treatment. There were Jewish children of different ages among them. In the second part of November 1942, a German commando issued an order according to which all the children of Jewish origin had to be separated from the Russian ones. The medical staff selected the Jewish children and put them aside. For a while Jewish children lived separately. In late November or early December 1942, a big truck with a black metallic bin arrived in front of the building where the ill Jewish children lived.” [Soviet document in relation to the trial of Einsatzkommando 12; B162-1288 p.86 / AR-Z 219/59 Vol. VII p.1286]

Historical note

Teberda is located in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic, Russia, in the Caucasus Mountains 105 kilometers (65 miles) south of Cherkessk. It was founded in 1868 as a Karachay settlement, and was originally called Baychoralany-Kyabak. Before the war it was home to Karachay and few Russians. There were no Jews living in the town. There are three villages in the area: Teberda, Verkhnyaya (Upper) Teberda and Nizhnyaya (Lower) Teberda. The distance between Teverda and Nizhnyaya Teberda is 25km.  After the war broke out about 200 people from the medical staff and 1,500 children patients, many of them unable to move, were evacuated from sanatoria in Ukraine and the Crimea to the Teberda sanatorium for those suffering from tuberculosis of the bone. According to some sources among the 1,500 children there were about 50 Jews.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Teberda was initially occupied by Romanian troops in early August 1942, and later, around late fall 1942, German troops arrived. The Germans ordered the Jews to wear armbands with the Star of David on them. Many sick children starved to death due to the lack of food.  The first execution was conducted in October 1942, according to the archives and local witness the Jewish medical staff of the sanatorium for children were shot. The next aktion was conducted on December 14, 1942, against 285 Jews, including local Jews and the remaining medical staff. Three days before they were all told to summon to the Gestapo with their valuable belongings. Suspecting something bad, two Jewish women, Sofiya Farber, the sanatorium accountant, and Frida Belkina, a specialist in tuberculosis, committed suicide. On December 12, 1942 the Jews were confined in an unheated summer pavilions of "The Scientists’ Sanatorium". There for the next two days they were kept with no food or water and their possessions were looted. In the course of two days 285 Jewish victims were shot in the area of the Lysaya mountain. Before being killed the victims were forced to undress. Then, in groups of twenties they had to line up at the edge of the pit, kneel down and were shot. Some non-Jewish medical personnel were apparently shot along with the Jews.

On December 22, 1941, 54 Jewish children who had been evacuated to a sanatorium in Teberda were loaded into a gas van and gassed. Their bodies were thrown into the Gonachkhir River. The aktion was conducted by Einsatzkommando 12. However, according to the local witness not all the children were gassed, some of them were shot dead straight after the Germans arrival, supposedly in November-December 1942, while attempting to evacuate further. They were shot dead close to the village of Nizhnyaya Teberda.

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