Verkhnie Vysotske | Lviv

/ Stepan Ts., born in 1924: “It happened this way: the Jew would dig out the grave and then he would stand by it, be killed and he would fall into that grave. The Jews would cover that grave with earth and then they would dig out another grave.” ©Les Kasyan Ivan, born in 1932: “When the Germans arrived all the Jews had to register. Then, one day they disappeared. Nobody knew what happened to them.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The Yahad team during an interview with a witness at his home. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum The execution site where about 18 Jews were murdered by civilian men in the summer of 1941. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum A drone view of the riverbank and the site of the pogrom conducted against the Jews in the summer of 1941. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Verkhnie Vysotske

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Stepan Ts., born in 1924: “Y.U.: Did he conduct the shooting alone?
Witness: He was alone. He alone was shooting.
Y. U.: And didn’t the Jews try to run away?
Witness: Where would they run? There was nowhere to run. It was announced that all Jews had to be killed, so they would come and surrender themselves.
Y. U.: Did you see them coming and surrendering themselves?
Witness: Yes, I saw it. There were two very old women, oh my god, they were also killed.
Y. U.: And were the graves large or for one or two people?
Witness: They were big.
Y.U.: Big enough that several people could fit into them?
Witness: Everybody in a grave. They would dig out a grave, then another one, then another and so it stretched for a kilometer.
Y. U.: And how many people fit into each grave?
Witness: One person.
Y. U.: And when you watched that Jewish cobbler begging for mercy, were there a lot of the Jews still there?
Witness: A lot, a lot of them.
Y. U.: Ten or a hundred, all together or in groups?
Witness: They were in groups of about ten.
Y.U.: And was that the only time when you went there to watch?
Witness: I went there twice. It was unbearable to watch those people suffering.
Y. U.: So, you went there twice, and it was the same person who was shooting them?” (Testimony n°2999U, interviewed in Kryvka, on November 22, 2021)

Historical note

Verkhnie Vysotske is located on the border with the Transcarpathian region, about 140 km (87mi) southwest of Lviv. Little is known about the Jewish community that lived in the prewar Verkhnie Vysotske. The first Jews might have settled down there in the mid-19th century. Between the two wars, Verkhnie Vysotske was under Polish rule, but in September 1939 the city was taken over by Soviet Union as a result of Molotov Ribbentrop Pact. The Jewish community of Verknie Vysotske was small. According to a witness interviewed by Yahad, there were about eight Jewish families living in the village, while the majority of the population was Ukrainian or Polish. A big Jewish community, where the cemetery and the synagogue were, lived in nearby town of Turka, located 30 km (18mi) to the north. The majority of the Verknie Vysotke Jews lived off small scale trade. They also baked bread that they would sell to the local population. The Jews had a small house, not really a prayer house, but one they used to pray each Saturday and for big holidays. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Verkhnie Vysotske was occupied by German troops in June 1941. Before the village was occupied, a pogrom against the Jewish population was organized. According to an eyewitness, the pogrom was organized by some civilians who were not native to the village. The Jews were shot on the edge of the pits, one by one, in their backs. While the shootings were conducted, other men dressed in civilian clothes would bring Jews to the site, women, men, and children among them. The isolated shootings of the Jews were conducted not only near the riverbank. According to the same witness, he saw two bodies of Jewish teenagers of about 16 years old, who were shot dead on the road. The bodies were dragged by a cart in an unknown direction. Today, there is no memorial at the shooting site. 

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