Ternivka (Ternovka) | Vinnytsia


Execution of Jews in Ternivka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 756 and 2,500

Witness interview

Oleksandr G., a Jewish survivor, born in 1934: "The first Germans who passed through our village seemed friendly enough, but they warned us that the subsequent ones would annihilate us, the Jews. Subsequently, for about a month, around 50 local Ukrainians were forced to dig a pit spanning between 30 and 40 meters in length and about 4 meters deep. The pit had been completed for over a week when a unit of SS killers arrived in Ternivka. By five o’clock in the morning, the village found itself encircled by German forces and local police. Every home was infiltrated by Germans who forcefully evicted the Jewish inhabitants, denying them the opportunity to retrieve any of their belongings. Upon departure, they left all windows and doors gaping open. In response, my sister and I sought refuge in a clandestine cellar dug beneath our house, where we remained concealed for three days. Meanwhile, other Jewish residents were herded to the stadium, where, after the skilled workers were separated, they were transported to the execution site to be killed. Only the craftsmen and members of the Judenrat were left in the ghetto, yet they too faced the same fate during a subsequent Aktion conducted a few months later. By then, I had managed to flee to the Bershad ghetto, seeking safety among fellow Jews, many of whom came from Bucovina." (Testimony N°YIU516U, interviewed in Bershad, on July 26, 2007)

Soviet archives

"During the temporary occupation of Ternovka [today Ternivka] village, located in Dzhulynka district in Vinnytsia region, by the German authorities – from July 29, 1941 till March 12, 1944 – on April 2 [May 27], 1942, the residents of Ternovka were rounded up in the main square by a group of SS men, from where they were marched to a grave prepared in advance, 1,5 km away from the village, in the direction of the forest. The assembled population – men, women, the elderly and children – were divided in groups and each group was led to the pit and shot at point-blank range. Thus the German beasts […] shot the inhabitants of Ternovka village […], in all 2,400 people." [Act drawn by State Extraordinary Soviet Commission (ChGK), on April 13, 1945, p.9; GARF 7021-54-1240/ Copy USHMM RG.22-002M]

German archives

"May 27, 1942 : Ternovka [today Ternivka]. 2,300 Jews shot (men, women and children) by Gebietskommissariat of Haysyn, Ortskommandantur of Haysyn, gendarmerie of Haysyn, Dzhulinka [today Dzhulynka] and Ternovka, Vinnytsia KdS foreign service, Krasnoselka [today Krasnosilka] border unit and Cossack groups. The Jews were taken from the ghetto to the pits previously dug outside Ternovka, where they were stripped naked and shot in small groups. Some of them were buried alive, small children were crushed." [Report of the Munich public prosecutor’s office about the execution of Jews in Haysyn and Dzhulinka [districts], BARch162-2333, p.37]

Historical note

Ternivka, situated approximately 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Vinnytsia, has a rich history dating back to the late 16th or early 17th century. The village’s first recorded Jewish community emerged in 1765. Over time, the Jewish residents became integral to the village’s economic fabric, engaging primarily in commerce and artisanal activities, with numerous businesses owned and operated by them. Following the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Ternivka became part of the Russian Empire. However, during the turbulent period of the Russian Civil War from 1918 to 1919, the Jewish population suffered from violent pogroms, resulting in the deaths of eleven Jews. Despite these hardships, the Jewish community continued to thrive. According to the 1926 census, Ternivka’s Jewish population numbered 3,081 individuals. The village boasted three synagogues, although they were closed in 1935, and a Jewish school catering to 300 students. As the Soviet era unfolded, social and political upheavals prompted the establishment of cooperatives for artisans, leading some Jews to transition into agricultural work and the establishment of their kolkhoz. By 1939, however, the Jewish population in Ternivka had dwindled to approximately 1,276 individuals, reflecting the shifting dynamics of the time.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Before the German troops entered Ternivka, a significant number of Jews were either mobilized or voluntarily enlisted in the Red Army, while others managed to evacuate to the East. Despite these efforts, approximately 1,000 Jewish residents remained in the town by July 29, 1941, when it fell under German Occupation. Following a brief period of military control, the town transitioned to German civil administration in late October 1941, with the establishment of a German gendarmerie post and a Ukrainian police unit.

The subsequent months were marked by the implementation of stringent anti-Jewish policies, including the establishment of a Judenrat, mandatory wearing of distinctive Star of David symbols, and confiscation of Jewish property. During the summer or fall of 1941, a ghetto was established in Ternivka, compelling local Jews and those from nearby areas to relocate to designated streets in the Jewish quarter. Movement restrictions were enforced, and Jews were coerced into various forms of forced labor, including agricultural work in the kolkhoz. The harsh living conditions within the ghetto, exacerbated by food shortages, beatings, and sporadic shootings, resulted in numerous deaths among its inmates. Furthermore, in the spring of 1942, a group of Jews deemed fit for labor were transferred to the Krasnopilka labor camp.

The majority of the remaining Jews met their demise during an Aktion conducted on May 27, 1942. This operation, orchestrated by German SS members with the assistance of the Ukrainian police force, involved rounding up victims in the town center before marching them to a nearby forest. Anyone unable to walk, including children, the elderly, and the infirm, was transported in carts. At the execution site, victims were stripped of their clothing and forced to lie in a pre-dug pit, where they were shot to death. Each layer of corpses was then partially covered with earth by a group of requisitioned Ukrainian women. 45 Jews in hiding were captured and executed in the same spot the following day.  In the end, the pit was filled in by a group of men. 

While some Jewish craftsmen were spared during this Aktion and remained in the ghetto with their families, alongside members of the Judenrat and those who had managed to evade detection during the mass shooting, they too faced being killed. After an outbreak of typhus, most of them were murdered at the same execution site on March 2, 1943. Estimates suggest that between 756 and 2,500 Jews perished in Ternivka during the Holocaust, including those brought to the village from the Romanian-occupied zone. Only a handful of Jews from Ternivka survived the war, aided by sympathetic local Ukrainians or by fleeing to territories under Romanian rule.


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