1 Execution site(s)
Anton Z., born in 1929: “The ghetto was created about six months after the Germans took over. All the Jews from the district, including those who lived in Stary and Novy Vyshnivets, were confined in this ghetto. It was composed of several houses. In each house there were ten or fifteen families. As far as I remember, there was no fence, but it was guarded by local policemen. Every day, a group of about 150 Jewish men would be taken somewhere for work. As the ghetto was guarded it was almost impossible to leave its territory. Some did in on the sly, others bribed the guards, who would let them go out to go and look for food.” (Witness n°2613U, interviewed in Stary Vyshnivets, on July 10, 2019)
“[...] at night two Germans arrived [in Stary Vychnevets] and ordered the policeman on duty to send for Bukovsky, the chief of the police. When Bukovsky showed up, they ordered him to summon the policemen to convoy the Jewish population. Alongside other policemen, I presented myself to the Kommandantur. I was ordered to stand by the asphalt road. From the road, I saw the Germans and the Kommandant chase a Jewish family, the Spiegelman couple, from their home. Then the Kommandant, accompanied by other policemen, took them to another house, which he ordered me, Vitali F., Kyril F. and two or three other policemen to watch for possible escape attempts.
I stayed on watch (it was night). A group of policemen went around Jewish homes and brought them to the guarded house. In all, 12 Jews were taken there. In the morning, after sunrise, the Jews were taken outside the village. Then the Kommandant sent me and Vitali F. into the village to bring some villagers with shovels to the place where the Jews were. We ordered the villagers to come to the ravine near the village, and we went with them to the place where the Jews were supposed to be transported. The Jews had been shot before we arrived, so all we had to do was bury their bodies (...)” [Deposition of a former policeman, Aleksandr Kh., SBU Archives; Delo n°10557]
Vyshnivets is located 45 km (28mi) north of Ternopil. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the mid-16th century. In 1765, 501 Jews lived in the town. By 1847, the Jewish population grown to 3,178 people. In 1863, five synagogues and a Talmud-Torah operated in the town. By 1921, however, the Jewish population had declined to 2,825 individuals, making up 70% of the total population. In the 1920s – early 1930s, there was a yeshiva. The majority of Jews lived off trade or handicraft. On the eve of war, there were about 4,000 Jews in the town, including refugees who arrived from Poland after 1939.
Vyshnivets was occupied by German forces on July 2, 1941. Shortly after their arrival, a local auxiliary police as well as Judenrat were created. The Jews continued to live in their houses until March 1942 when a ghetto was created. All the local Jews and those transferred from the nearby villages were crammed into several Jewish houses. Due to overcrowding and inhumane living conditions, many Jews died. The ghetto was fenced in and guarded by the local police. Systematically, Jewish inmates fit to work were taken to carry out hard labor. The ghetto was liquidated in August 1942 by a SS unit that arrived from Kremenets. Over the course of two days, August 11-12, the Germans murdered 2,669 people (German report). That day, the ghetto was encircled, all the Jews chased out of their homes and gathered near the entrance. Those who resisted were severely beaten. While adults were marched, elderly people and children were taken to the execution site by truck. Once at the killing site, the victims were forced to undress, forced down into the pit in groups, and forced to lie down facing the ground, before being shot. According to the archives, some local policemen took an active role in the shooting. After this shooting, some Jews still remained in town, such as artisans that were kept alive until the last moment, and anyone who managed to flee or hide. Isolated shootings took place until around November 1942.
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