Kozhanka | Kyiv

Tamara B., born in 1928 : "Some of the Jews were not killed directly, they were wounded. One Jewish woman from the feeding center had a one-year-old baby. He was thrown alive into the mass grave by a German or a policeman."    ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unu "Some boys from the village, of my age, were minding the cows not far from that place. So, they climbed the tree and they saw everything. It is from them, sitting on the tree, I knew who was killed in which manner. "     ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Kozhanka sugar factory, near the execution site.    ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The execution site where about 30 Jews were murdered in September 1941.     ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Memorial at the execution site with the inscription: "In memory of the men, women, old people and children, massacred during the fascist occupation because they were Jews. This should never be repeated. Eternal memory to the victims."    ©Les Kasyanov/Yah Memorial plaque with the inscription: "Here, on July 24, 1941, more than 30 civilians from the village of Kozhanka were shot".    ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team during an interview. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team at the execution site with a witness and her daughter. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Kozhanka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Edge of the forest, near the sugar factory
Memorials:
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1943
Number of victims:
Circa 30

Witness interview

Tamara B., born in 1928 : "Y.U.: You mentioned you saw a member of the SS wearing a black uniform, is that correct?
Witness: Yes, I did. Once a train came to the train station. And we, the village children, ran everywhere. I ran with everybody. The train came and stopped at our station. They came out of the carriages, SS men dressed in black. One of them saw me running around and gave me a piece of bread and sausage. I was so happy, I ran home. And at that moment our airplane appeared. They looked at it through their binoculars. They said: “Russ!” And that plane turned around, it saw that the whole station was covered with the SS soldiers. It went further and dropped seven bombs. It was aiming for the train station but hit the houses and the field. The SS started laughing. They boarded their carriages and went away. They went directly to Kyiv. When the partisans started being a nuisance during the night, like throwing a harvesting machine into the river, the SS would come and do a round-up. But people would hide. […] They would come and there would be nobody left in the village. So, they didn’t have an opportunity to be the henchmen. But I knew the SS, I could tell them apart from the ordinary soldiers, there were a lot of them here. And I would like to add about that plane: it dropped those bombs and then flew to the next village where it landed and surrendered. And somehow our Polizei got hold of the pilot. They brought him here to the post office. He was not in his uniform anymore, and he was alone, another pilot had ran away. This one was tortured a lot and then they took him to the outskirts of the village and shot him. I was an eyewitness. All the children ran there to see, he was laying there, a bullet to the forehead, another in the chest that exited out his back. The two Germans and the Polizei told my father to grab their spades and bury the parachutist. I went with him, and I am an eyewitness, I saw where he was buried. And after the war I honored his grave, I put up a fence around the grave, the monument and I clean it regularly, because I saw how it all happened.” (Witness n°2928U, interviewed in Kozhanka on August 18, 2021)

Soviet archives

"Interrogated in the case as a defendant, Kornei Zh*** admitted guilt and stated that:
In early September 1941, he and other residents were elected at the local general meeting to serve in the village police. Shortly after, on the orders of Kozhanka police chief Yakov Sh***, Zh*** and other village policemen, armed with guns, went to the forest taking with them on the way four other residents (…). When they arrived in the woods behind the soccer field of the Kozhanka sugar factory, Sh*** ordered the policemen and the four residents to dig the pit, saying that Jews would be shot. In addition, he warned the policemen that they had to guard the site and not let anyone near it.
When the pit was dug, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, 27 Jews from Kozhanka were brought in, including two men, 8 children between 2 and 10 years old and the rest women and girls. The Jews were taken into the pit and then shot. The execution was carried out by the Kozhanka police chief Yakov Sh*** and a policeman who had arrived specially from Fastov. The other policemen stood around the pit." [Security Service SBU Archives, Delo n°63841; USHMM Copy: RG 31.018, Reel 5 (IV) pp. 612.)]

Historical note

Kozhanka is a village in the Kyiv Oblast, 75 km (46.6 miles) southwest of the capital, in central Ukraine. In 1864, 17 Jews lived there, representing 1.5% of the total population. From 1923 to 1929, Kozhanka became the center of the county and the population grew. By 1926, the local Jewish population had grown to 308. Most of them worked in trade and crafts.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On June 22, 1941, the German army and their allies began their invasion of the USSR. In Kozhanka, a large village’s Jews fled east before the arrival of the Germans, while others were incorporated into the ranks of the Red Army. On July 17, 1941, the town was occupied by German troops. As soon as they arrived, the German authorities established a local auxiliary police force. In late August or September, 1941, according to the Ukrainian historian A.Kruglov, on September 21, 1941, about 30 local Jews were taken near the sugar factory on the edge of the forest. They were executed in a pit by the Germans, while local police officers were responsible for guarding the execution site. The pit was dug and then filled in by four local residents requisitioned by the police.

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