1 Execution site(s)
Ivan I., born in 1927, remembers the humiliation the Jews were subjected to: “Once, I saw a Jewish woman being forced to drag a full barrel of water. It was the wife of the Jew who worked at the mill. I believe his name was Meshenus. She was heavy. They saddled her like a horse and forced her to drag the barrel for about 500m. When she was not going fast enough, they beat her.” (Witness n°1737, interviewed in Bilylivka, on June 6, 2013)
Bilylivka is located 134 km southwest of Kyiv. The first Jewish community dates back to the 18th century. The Jewish community was rather important but after numerous attacks against them in the beginning of the 20th century, the population experienced a sizable decrease. On the eve of the war, there were over 1800 Jews living in the village. According to the witness, there was a Jewish school and a Jewish administrative board. There was a brick synagogue, but in the 1930s, it was closed and transformed into a prison. The majority of Jews were shopkeepers, some of them were artisans. There was a mill that was owned by a Jew. Two Jews worked in the kolkhoz, one as chief of the warehouse and another who fabricated ropes. The town was occupied by the Germans in the middle of July 1941.
Little is known from the historical sources about the fate of the Jews during the occupation. From the fieldwork, Yahad discovered that anti-Jewish measures were implemented immediately following the Germans’ arrival. All the Jewish shops were looted and closed. They were subjected to different types of humiliation. Some sources stated that there were two executions in Bilylivka, but the local witnesses confirmed only one. During the first action, which was conducted on September 10, 1941, all the Jews were rounded up from their houses and gathered in the center of town. From there, they were taken in trucks outside the village and shot. On this day, over 850 Jews were murdered by mobile SS units, aided by local police.
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