1 Execution site(s)
Leonid V., born in 1922, remembered the beginning of the occupation: “ All of the residents were registered according to their nationality. The Jews were separated from the others. The non-Jews were forced to perform forced labor. The Jews were moved to a special area in town dedicated only for them. There was a curfew after six o’clock at night when no one could go outside. All Jews were marked with yellow fabric on their backs. They were not allowed to leave the confines of that area.” (Testimony N°684, interviewed in Osipovichi, on July 17, 2013).
“One time, I had to drive a truck with a group of seven women and three men to a forest 5km from Osipovichi. There was a grave that was four meters long, three meters wide and two and a half meters deep. The grave was freshly dug because it was not covered with snow yet. The victims had to undress and throw their clothing in the truck. Each member of the GFP took one person by the arm to the grave. The victims had to kneel and were shot with a bullet in the neck. The shooters used revolvers. There were several guards around the pit and the drivers had to stay close to their vehicles in case anyone attempted to escape.” [Deposition of the driver about the execution of partisans made in Hamburg on August 27, 1965; B162-18004]
Osipovichi is located about 50hm northeast of Bobruisk and 160 northwest of Mogilev. The first record regarding the Jewish community goes back to the late 19th century. In 1910, 45% of total population was Jewish. There were two synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. The majority of Jews lived off handcraft or worked as government officials. Some of them were involved in small scaled trade. On the eve of the war, 1,694 Jews lived in the town, comprising 12% of the total population.
The Germans occupied the town on June, 30, 1941. Around 20% of the prewar population managed to evacuate by that time. Immediately after the German arrival, all of the Jews were registered and marked with distinguishing yellow badges. The Judenrat (Jewish council) and local Belarussian police were created. All of the Jews were subject to perform various of forced labor.
After the first Aktion conducted in August 1941 against the Jews accused of being Soviet activists, the remaining Jews were confined to a ghetto located over several streets in the southern part of the village. It numbered about 420-450 inmates including 40 Jews brought from the Lipen ghetto. The second execution was conducted on October 11, 1941. During this execution 300 Jewish men, women, and children were taken from the ghetto to the military camp. According to the witness, the Jews were taken to the execution site on foot and were guarded by policemen with dogs. They also carried their valuables. The remaining women, children, and elderly people were executed on February 5, 1942 at the Jewish cemetery. The executions were conducted by an SS squad and soldiers of Wehrmacht, who were assisted by local police. Some Jews managed to escape before the shooting and join a partisan unit. The remains of the executed men were reburied in a mass grave at the Jewish cemetery.
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