1 Execution site(s)
Zinaida G., born in 1928: "One morning, I saw the column of Jews from my window walking in the street. The ground was frozen. It was escorted by Germans and policemen, there were approximately 6 guards. There was an open truck with a German in it following the column. The Jews were taken to a warehouse. I heard shouting, doubtless it was the children who were separated from their parents. The Jews were undressed. Then, I heard gunfire." (Witness N°806, interviewed in Vetka, on June 18, 2014)
Vetka is a town located on the banks of the Sozh River, 19 km northeast of Gomel. On the eve of the war, there were 944 Jews (15% of the total population) living in the town. There was a Jewish cemetery. Before the war, the town was a district center. Before the occupation, many Jewish men were enrolled in the Soviet army, about half of the Jewish community evacuated.
Vetka was occupied by German forces on August 18, 1941. At the beginning, the Jews were able to live in their own houses. But quickly, an open ghetto was created in a neighborhood of the town. Jews from neighboring villages were also interned there. They were regularly taken for forced work.
The extermination of the Jewish population started from early December 1941. On December 2, 1941, all the Jews were ordered by the Germans to assemble in the central square. Once there, they were locked up in the stables and the keys to their houses were confiscated. The houses were subsequently looted. On December 3, 1941, all the Jews were forced into a column and led to an antitank ditch on the southern edge of town, close to a large grain elevator, and shot under the supervision of Germans and local police. After the mass shooting, the policemen requisitioned local people to fill in the pit. A second Aktion was conducted in September 1942, during which 61 Jews and Gypsies were shot, about 1 km away from Vetka. During the two main Aktions, it is estimated that around 500 Jews were killed.
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