2 Execution site(s)
Viktor V., born in 1931: “Y.U. : So the Germans were here for 2 days?
Witness: Yes. And we went to the Lenin street, the one by the factory, leading to Nataliya. There was a photographer living there, on the left side of the stree. He was Jewish. The Germans came on the motorcycles, dragged him out and shot him in the street in front of everybody. All the Jews were taken to the factory, then to the forest. But the worst was how our people and the Polizei killied people. I saw it with my own eyes how one would throw a child in the air and the other one would shoot. He would throw another child and that one would miss, and the child fell into the grave, alive. There is a man who filled in the grave with earth afterwards, he told me about it. Some of the Jews tried to get out and they would be hit in the head with a spade. They were alive, they tried to get out, but they were buried anyway.” (Witness n°2949U, interviewed in Dovbysh on August 30, 2021)
“I know, I mean I saw it myself, how in the October 1941, following the order of the gendarmerie, the police collected Jews from all over the county - men, women, and children - 230 of them. The gendarmerie and the police, 60 people guarding them, took the Jews to the forest beyond the village of Dovbysh, where pits had been prepared, dug by the Jews and Soviet POWs. All the Jews were shot next to the pits.” [Deposition of the Markhlevsk’s resident Olga R., born in 1910, given to the State Extraordinary Soviet Commission (ChGK); GARF 7021-60-292]
Dovbysh, also known as Markhlevsk or Marchlewsk between 1926 and 1946, is located 65km (40mi) northeast of Zhytomyr. The first records of the Jewish community go back to the early 19th century. With the establishment of a china porcelain factory in 1823, many Jews moved to Dovbysh to work. According to the 1897 census, 92 Jews lived in the town, making up around 11% of the total population. By 1926, the Jewish population had grown to 159 residents, although Poles represented the majority of the population. The Jews lived off small scale trade and handcraft. Many Jews continued working at the china porcelain factory. On the eve of the war, 513 Jews lived in Dovbysh, comprising 12% of the total population.
Dovbysh was occupied by the Germans on July 10, 1941. On that day, according to a local witness, a Jewish photographer was taken out of his home and shot on the street. According to field research and local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, all the Jews were gathered at the local china porcelain factory where they were detained up to their murder The inmates were divided into two groups, those able to work and those unfit. The fit to work inmates were forced to perform road construction. Both groups were liquidated in two major mass executions conducted in September, or late August, and October 1941. The executions were conducted in the forest located 3km outside Dovbysh, close to the village of Ivanivka. The first Aktion, during which between 200 and 300 Jews were murdered, was carried out in late August, or on September 12, 1941.
The second shooting took place in late October, or on November 12, 1941, at the same site but in different pits. During this execution, 230 Jews were shot, mainly elderly people, women and children. Local witnesses report that before being shot, the victims were forced to undress. The shootings were conducted by a German SS unit with the active participation of some of the local policemen. In all, there are five mass graves at the execution site that were dug by Jews and Soviet POWs, who were also murdered afterwards.
According to the Soviet archives, several isolated executions of Jews, especially those who were found in hiding, continued after the mass executions. Those who were found were shot at different sites around the town, such as the china porcelain factory basement, on Pushkin Street and others.
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