2 Execution site(s)
Mykhailo V., born in 1927: “Some Jews managed to pass over the border to the region occupied by the Romanians. Those who stayed were confined into small ghettos created one month after the occupation. Special notes were hanging throughout the town, ordering the Jews to move into these areas. In case they refused to move, the police would come and make them move by force. There was one small ghetto created in the Bogopol area while the big one was created in the building of school n°4. Before the Jews, there were Soviet prisoners of war who were detained there. Back then, we lived about 200m away from this ghetto. It was fenced in with barbed wire and wooden planks. Local police guarded the main entrance. All Jews were marked with white armbands bearing the Star of David. Those who were fit to work were forced to perform different kinds of forced labor. I remember seeing my former school teachers sweeping the streets. They were guarded by my classmate, who joined the police. He was a local German who lived here even before the Germans arrived.” (Witness n°2489, interviewed in Pervomaisk, on September 18, 2018)
“Question: Please tell us which criminal activity you participated in while being in the police?
Answer: In the beginning, I was patrolling the streets, and I told you about that during the previous interrogations, but I also participated in rounds-up of Soviet citizens.
Question: When and how many Soviet citizens did you personally arrest?
Answer: In the beginning of 1942, during several days, under the order of Andrusin, I went to the houses located in Golta, the part of the Pervomaisk occupied by the Romanians, with police Captains Kravits and Anilov, and the policemen Arkhipov, Katnish, and others whose names I don’t remember. I arrested Soviet citizens of Jewish origin and brought them to the camp “ghetto”, located on the Leninskaya Street. In all, we arrested about 200 people.
Question: Who were the people you arrested? What was their position?
Answer: There were different people: watchmakers, tailors, workers - I don’t remember them all. Half of the arrestees were women, and there were many children.
Question: What was the reason for their arrest?
Answer: According to Andrusin, we had to arrest the Soviet citizens of Jewish origin under the order of Romanians because they were Jewish. I don’t know of any other reasons for their arrest.
Question: How were these arrests conducted?
Answer: Before the arrests started, Andrusin gathered all the policemen in Golta, in a room. They were divided into groups of threes or fours. The groups were head by Andrusin himself, the subordinate captains and the police secretary Medinski. Each group received an order to arrest several Jewish families and to bring them to the camp “ghetto”. We didn’t provide any arrest warrants. On that day, I happened to be in the group headed by Anilov, and I conducted the arrests. In the majority of cases, we arrived late in the evening or even at night to their homes, and we forced out the entire family. They were allowed to take only good clothing and valuables with them. The rest of their belongings, including the furniture, were taken by Romanian gendarmes. […]
Question: What happened to these families arrested by you and the other policemen?
Answer: The specialists, such as tailors, watchmakers, cobblers, hairdressers or other, were allowed to stay in the camp [in Pervomaisk]. Romanian authorities made them work for their needs. While others, who represented half of the prisoners, were taken to a bigger camp located in the district of Domanivka, about 50km away from Pervomaisk. I have never been there, so I can’t tell you what happened to them there. In March 1944, when I fled to Romania, the families arrested and detained in Pervomaisk were still living in the camp. […]”
[From the interrogation of a former policeman, Anatoliy K., made on October 23, 1952. He was convicted to 25 years of forced labor; SBU Archives: Delo n°11716, p. 9-14; USHMM RG 31.018]
Pervomaisk is located on the banks of the Buh River, 164 km (102 miles) northwest of Mykolaiv. The town was officially named Pervomaisk in 1919 after three villages’ merger: Golta, located on the left bank of the river, Olviopol and Bogopol, situated on the right side of the river. The first records acknowledging Jews in these three settlements date back to the early 18th century. By 1897 Jews represented 41% of the total population. The largest Jewish community lived in Bogopol, where Jews made up 82% of the population. As a result numerous pogroms conducted in 1905, and 1919 Jewish houses and properties were looted. The number of Jews living in the area decreased slightly. In 1926, only 31% of the population was Jewish. There were three Jewish cemeteries, one in each settlement, several synagogues, two Jewish Yiddish schools, and two Jewish kolkhozes. Those Jews, who weren’t involved in farm work and agriculture, made a living from small scale trade or artisanal manufacturing. There were many artisans among them, such as cobblers, tailors, watchmakers, and others. On the eve of the war, 6,087 Jews lived in Pervomaisk, comprising 18% of the total population.
Pervomaisk was occupied by the Germans, followed by the Romanians on August 2, 1941. In October 1941, the town was divided, one side was governed by the Germans and the other side by the Romanians. Golta, located on the right bank of the river, remained under Romanian control and became part of Transnistria. At the same time, the Olviopol and Bogopol areas were integrated into the Reichkommissariat Ukraine, where in December 1941, the German military authority was replaced by the German Civil administration.
The history of Pervomaisk during this period is very interesting as it remained under two different occupations. Some Jews tried to cross the border to go to the territory occupied by the Romanians, believing there were better chances for survival. The first executions of Jews were conducted within the first days of the occupation, most probably carried out by Romanian gendarmes. Shortly after the first executions, the Jews who remained in the territory controlled by Germans were registered and identified with white armbands bearing the Star of David.
In late August-early September, they were forced to move to a designated location in the town. In October 1941, approximately 300 Bessarabian Jews were brought to Golta and confined to a work camp, recognized as a ghetto by some sources. Due to the horrific conditions, 200 of them died from hunger, and another 50 were very close to death. In early December 1941, with active help of the local police, 200 local Jews were rounded-up and confined into the ghetto located on Leninskaya street. According to a local witness, who lived just across the street from the ghetto, it was fenced in with barbed wire and wooden planks. The main entrance was guarded by local police. There were handbills hung all over town, ordering Jews to move into the ghetto. If the Jews refused to move to the ghetto by themselves, they were brought by force by the police. After a selection, specialists were allowed to stay in the ghetto, while others, about 100 Jews, were taken to the Domanivka camp where they were later murdered.
In December 1941, approximately 20 Jews were arrested and shot near the village of Henivka. The number of Jewish inmates in the Golta ghettos were continually changing with the arrival of new Jewish deportees and executions or displacements of those they didn’t have room for. As a result, at the beginning of 1943, about 500 Jews were located in the three ghettos of Golta, including the work camp. Among the Jewish inmates, there were a few hundred Jews brought from Romania in mid-1942. Jews were also deported from Ukraine and Bukovina. In April 1943, about 133 Jews, mainly specialists from the work camp, were transferred to the camp in Akmechetka. According to the official report of the Romanian authority, only 127 Jews remained in Golta in November 1943.
In the German-occupied villages of Bogopol and Olviopol, the situation was different. The majority of Jews who remained there were executed systematically. According to the Feldkommandantur 676, dated September 21, 1941, the majority of the Jewish population was exterminated in mid-September. However, from other sources and from oral testimonies collected by Yahad, we know that there were executions conducted in late fall 1941 or even in 1942 and 1943. The first aktion was conducted on September 17, 1941, during which several hundred Jews were rounded-up and murdered in the anti-tank ditches just outside the Bogopol area. In October 1941, another 120 Jews were shot near the brick factory. The next two aktions were conducted on December 15, 1941, and January 9, 1942, when the remaining Jews from the ghetto were taken to be shot in the anti-tank ditches. In February 1942, 30 remaining specialists were shot. According to a local witness (YIU/2488U), he was rounded up, taken and forced to watch the execution, a group of Jews, about 20 people, most probably taken from the ghetto, were shot in the fall of 1942. The Jews were shot in small groups at the edge of the ravine by Germans who fired from six machine guns. Before the shooting, a German officer made a speech.
In February and March, 1942, between 1,600 to 3,600 Jews who were deported from the territories occupied by the Romanians were shot as well. Several isolated shootings of Jewish and non-Jewish victims took place at the orthodox cemetery located in Olviopol. Yahad-In Unum wasn’t able to locate the mass graves.
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