1 Execution site(s)
Volodymyr P., born 1927: “There was no time for that, because the war started on June 21 and on the Germans were already here by July 6. There was some fighting right in front of the village and the Germans burned one street as our troops withdrew. I think it was either a Red Army platoon or company and it was commanded by a Jew native to Kuzmyn. He held out here a bit, he wanted to take his parents along with him, but he couldn’t. He left the village and I don’t know what happened to him after that. The tanks came, they shot people and entered the village. He didn’t have time to take his parents with him, they refused to go. Back then people conducted themselves with a “that’s the way it must be” kind of attitude. A time has come for us to go… War destroyed everything. When the Germans came to the village, on the 5th or 6th day of them being in the village, they started killing the Jews. But they only killed the men, leaving the women and children alive. And in the autumn, they were all sent to Yarmolyntsi, it was a big column, about 200 or so people. The graves were dug and they were all [killed].” (Witness n°YIU/2908U, interviewed in Kuzmyn, on July 10, 2021)
“At the end of 1942 [sic for 1941] all the residents of the town [Kuzmyn] were transported to Horodok, where we worked under the guard of the German Gendarmerie. One day in October 1942, we woke up and learned that we had been surrounded by Ukrainian policemen. They ordered us out onto the street, then loaded us onto carts and took us to Yarmolyntsi, to a small military barrack complex. 3,000 people were forced into it. Due to fear, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion, some innocent victims committed suicide, the members of one family killed each other. For example: Geler, the head of the [Horodok] Jewish community, killed his daughter and wife before killing himself. [The Germans] forced these residents out of the barrack to be shot, made them lie down in the pit, and then shot them to death. The children were buried alive. Some managed to escape this death by committing suicide. Instead of going to the grave, Fogelman and Sarah, his wife, who ran out of the barrack, smashed their heads against the rocks and killed themselves, and my sister Riva Weisburt, who was 25 years old, also. She ran out of the barrack, climbed up to the second floor and shouted "Long live comrade Stalin," threw herself to the ground and died. My mother was killed at at the same time. I managed to stay alive by running away.” [Testimony of a Jewish survivor Yevgeniya Weisburt, born in 1925 in Kuzmyn, given to the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on June 11, 1944; TsGAOOU 166-3-215]
Kuzmyn is a village in the Khmelnytskyi region, western Ukraine, located 40 km (25mi) southwest of Khmelnytskyi and 14 km (9mi) northwest of Horodok. The village was founded in the 15th century and the first records of the Jewish community go back to the 18th century. Before the war, Kuzmyn had a relatively large Jewish population, with about 15% of the total population being Jewish. There was a synagogue, a Jewish cemetery and a Jewish kolkhoz. Jewish children first studied separately for four years before attending the town’s mixed school. Jews worked in a variety of domains: they were merchants, tanners, and accountants. They lived in the center of the town. There were between 200 and 400 Jews in Kuzmyn on the eve of the war.
Kuzmyn fell under German occupation on July 8, 1941. There was some fighting in the town. The Germans didn’t stay long in Kuzmyn, but appointed a starost and put a few Ukrainian policemen in charge. Ukrainian “nationalists” also arrived and stayed in Kuzmyn and the region. When they arrived, the Germans killed a lot of people and set fire to a few houses they thought belonged to Jews, according to a witness interviewed by Yahad. The Jews in Kuzmyn were all executed, but not at the same time. The first wave of killings involved men only and took place at the beginning of the occupation. The archives tell us that Ukrainian “nationalists” were responsible for this execution, but the witnesses interviewed by Yahad claimed that the Germans or local policemen were responsible. In any case, an unknown number of Jewish men were taken straight from their homes to the Jewish cemetery where they were forced to dig a pit. They were then shot and buried in the mass grave.
The remaining Jews, mostly women and children, were transferred to the Horodok ghetto in the autumn of 1941. They were subjected to forced labour and had to wear distinctive yellow signs on their clothes. About a year later, they were taken to the military area near Yarmolyntsi to be shot. All the remaining Jews in Kuzmyn – about 200 of them according to one witness – were also taken on foot to Yarmolyntsi at about the same time and shot there. After having been held for three days in the barracks, the victims were taken out and led to the pits located nearby. At the site, the Jews were forced to strip naked, and then had to go inside the pit in groups and lie down facing the ground. Soviet POWs were later killed at that site. Almost the entire Jewish population of Kuzmyn was killed during the war.
Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17