2 Execution site(s)
Vladimir M., born in 1921: “At the beginning, the Jews continued to live here. They were all gathered in the building of the former Estonian soldiers. They were marked with armbands. They were forced to do all kinds of cleaning work. Then, in small groups they were taken to the polygon to be killed. All this happened at night, so it was impossible to see it. Besides the Jews, the partisans were executed as well. I used to have connections with the partisans, but I had to leave the town and hide to not be caught by Germans. Once, I saw three partisans being hanged in the town center. The bodies remained hanging there with a sign “Partisan”. (Witness n°649R, interviewed in Luga, on December 05, 2015)
“The prisoners of war [POWs] wore rags and had no shoes. The Germans mistreated them, forced them to undress and stay outside naked in winter, beat them to death. Local people were forbidden to feed the POWs under the threat of being beaten. […] In January 1942, a barrack with 500 POWs was burnt down. According to the witness Paukov, nearly 7,000 POWs died in the camp from hunger, cold, disease or were killed. The Commission counted 47 pits in the town of Luga. Some graves located on Lesnaya Street were opened and 223 bodies were examined. Two graves were also opened at the cemetery of Soviet POWs located northeast of the town of Luga. The commission was able to determine that 11,000 people, civilians, and POWs, were buried in the territory of the cemetery. The bodies in the pits are heterogeneously positioned: some were lying face down, others on their backs, others still with their backs bent. Among the victims there were elderly people, women and children aged 3 and over. The commission also opened 3 mass graves near the Naplotinka river. The bodies in these graves had their hands tied behind their backs and showed signs of torture. The commission examined polygon N °2 located 8 km from Luga where the bones of 600 calcined people were found." [Act drawn up by Extraordinary State Commission (ChGK) on October 14, 1944, by: GARF 7021-30-164, Pp.25-27]
“As the entire area between Peipus and Illmensee is still infested with partisans, the fight against the partisans becomes the priority of the troops. The fight is very difficult, because the immediate climate conditions give an opportunity for the partisans to slip into the forests and the abandoned buildings and to restrict themselves to certain attacks and acts of sabotage. There was a real partisan school in Luga where learning materials, weapons, etc. were confiscated. The Partisan School had existed since mid-July and has arguably trained a large number of the partisans in the area. Among the trained partisans are Red Army soldiers, Communist civilians, and young boys who, sometimes with great skill, pretending to be peasants, spy on any possibility of sabotage.
Several civilians, who were in Petersburg not long ago, were interrogated by the group and the commandos. Their statements contradict each other, so it is impossible to have a clear view of the situation in Petersburg. Nevertheless, it has been said that the mass of Jews and officials in Petersburg have left the city, that food has been rationed and that there is hardly any meat left.” [From the rapport of the Einsatzgruppen n°94, written in September 25, 1941; BArch 162-438 p.112]
Luga is a town located in the Leningrad region 140km (87mi) southwest of Saint Petersburg. Founded on the banks of the Luga river under the order of Catherine the Great on August 3 (14), 1777. The first Jews settled in Luga in the 1850s with the construction of the Leningrad-Warsaw railway connection. In 1860-1870, there was a Jewish cemetery and a synagogue. According to the 1897 census, 382 Jews lived in Luga comprising 7% of the total population. By 1926, the number of the Jews living in the town increased but they were the minority. Only 379 Jews were in the town making up only 3% of the total population. The majority of Jews from Luga were either artisans, merchants or intelligentsia, like doctors, theater and orchestra managers. In the 1930s the synagogue was closed, and all the private businesses were nationalized. On the eve of the war, in 1939, 554 Jews lived in the town.
Luga was occupied by Germans on August 24, 1941, after over a month of fearless defense from different divisions. Part of the prewar Jews managed to evacuate before the Germans’ arrival. Straight after the occupation several hundreds of Jews from other nearby localities, such as Gatchina, Tosno, Lyuban, Chudov, were brought to Luga. According to the residents, they were brought in two groups. The first one numbered 300 Jews. After being held for a couple of days at the marketplace, they were transferred to Pskov. The second group, consisting of 300-400 Jews, was brought shortly after. There were men, women, children and elder people in the column. The detainees were identified with the yellow Star of David. The Jews were subjected to different kinds of humiliations, and forced labor, such as cleaning the Kommandatura toilets, and the barracks. The majority of Jews were murdered in October 1941. According to the forensic research conducted by the ChGK commission in 1944, about 600 calcined bodies of the Jewish victims were found at the polygon, located 8km away from Luga. To hide the traces of their crimes, the Germans burned the bodies, according to the operation known as 1005. Besides the Jews, the Soviet POWs, partisans, and other civilians were persecuted by the Germans. Thousands of Soviet POWs, Jews included, were killed in the murder actions conducted during the occupation of the town.
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