2 Execution site(s)
Ivan P.: "It was in winter, and because I had a sleigh, I was also requisitioned by the Germans. They told us to go into the ghetto. Later, we had to take the Jews to the train station in Vawkavysk. We had to push the people into the train cars. The police officers drank rum to give themselves “courage." (Witness N°422, interviewed in December 2010)
“Then, in the autumn of 1942, everyone (around 1000 people) was taken to the Vawkavysk concentration camp. The German gendarmerie guarded all of it. The men from the Gestapo beat the Jews with batons. In order to transport the Jews, the Gestapo requisitioned about 300 carts, but a lot of the Jews had to walk. The sick Jews had to stay in the ghetto.” [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG22.022M/7021-86/37]
Vawkavysk is a town located roughly 98 kilometers south of Grodno. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, 3000 Jewish refugees from German-occupied Poland settled in the town, so that the total number of Jews was somewhere between 9000 and 10000 before the Nazi invasion of the USSR. There was also a large Polish community. The town was under German occupation from 1941 until 1944.
In June 1941, German aerial bombing destroyed 75% of Vawkavysk and killed circa. 1000-1500 people, most of them Jews.
In mid-July 1941, 200 Jewish elites, as well as the mentally handicapped, were executed.
At the end of 1941, an open ghetto was established in the city ruins, in three different areas. Yellow signs were required to be posted above the doors of Jewish houses. The ghetto could be considered a transit camp in which the Germans concentrated all the Jews of the area, circa. 2000 in total. Notably, the Jews were forced to work on demolition and construction projects. The ghetto was liquidated over the course of several different Aktions, scheduled between November 1942, and January 1943. The Jews were sent to the extermination camps of Treblinka or Auschwitz. A certain number of them managed to escape to the local forests around Vawkavysk and join the partisans.
According to witnesses interviewed by Yahad - In Unum, Jews were also shot near Vawkavysk in an area known as "Prochovnia".
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