Vilshana (Olshana) | Cherkasy

/ Volodymyr D., born in 1930, saw an execution of the communists and a Jewish woman, Ewa, from far. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Kateryna T., born in 1929: “At the moment of the German arrival, some of the local residents hid in the sugar factory. Because they didn’t want to go out, the Germans threw a grenade inside and killed them all.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Hanna M., born in 1928: “There was only one Jew who worked in the kolkhoz, others were mainly merchants and artisans. I remember Shyka and Zelyk. They were merchants.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The former Jewish cemetery in Vishana. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The former Jewish cemetery in Vishana. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum One of the two remaining tombstones in the Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad-In Unum’s team during an interview with Volodymyr. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The former building of German Kommendantur where the registration of Jews took place.  ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The execution site of 10 victims, Jews among them, murdered in September 1941. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The execution site of a dozen victims located near the local cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The destroyed building of a sugar factory where 52 residents were murdered. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Vilshana

2 Execution site(s)

Investigated by Yahad :
2020
Kind of place before :
Orthodox cemetery
Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Dozen

Witness interview

Volodymyr D., born in 1930: Y.U. : Did the Germans see you? Did they try to chase you away?
Witness : Not at all. They were doing their business.
Y. U. : Were you alone there?
Witness : No, there were other kids there.
Y. U. : Were there adults with you?
Witness : No, there were only boys there.
Y. U. : And how many Germans were there with those communists and that Jewish woman?
Witness : There were 6 of them.
Y.U. : Were they Germans or were there also police?
Witness : No, there were no polizei there.
Y. U. : And once the grave was ready, how did it go, were they all brought in front of it, or were they brought there one by one?
Witness :No, they were all lined up, shot and they fell into the grave. They fired a machine gun. It was interesting for the boys that we were.
Y. U. : And who ordered fire, a commandant?
Witness : Of course.
Y.U. : Did you hear any conversation from the place where you were?
Witness : No, they were speaking their language. And (the communists) were not invited to speak. And we didn’t understand the German.
Y. U. : So, the woman we are talking about, it is Eva ?
Witness : Yes.
Y. U. : So, the shooting took several minutes?
Witness : They dug up a ditch, lined them up, shot them, took my calf, turned away and left.
Y. U. : And the victims, did they stay facing the grave or the shooters?
Witness : Facing the grave. They fired in the nape of the neck.
Y.U. : And that was one German who fired from his machine gun or all of them?
Witness : He was the only one to shoot.” (Witness n°2756U, interviewed in Vilshana, on August 25, 2020)

German archives

“Preliminary investigation against Franz Becker, done on January 14, 1972, former Gebietskommissar of Zvenyhorodka who is accused of the following murders:
Case n°12
Date : January 5, 1944
Place : sugar factory in Olshana [Vilshana]
Victims: 10 Russians
Executioners: Unknown Germans
Operation mode: Shooting […]

Case n°15
Date : January 5, 1944
Place : sugar factory in Olshana [Vilshana]
Victims: 52 Russians
Executioners: Unknown Germans
Operation mode: Killing with grenades […] ”[BArch B162-9138, p.51]

Historical note

Vilshana is located 100km (62mi) northeast of Uman and 80km (50mi) southwest of Cherkasy. The first records about the Jewish community goes back to late 17th early 18th century. In 1847, 689 Jewish people lived in the village, and in 1897 there were 1233 comprising 20% of the total population. There were two synagogues, both closed in 1923, a Jewish cemetery and a Yiddish school, opened in the 1920s. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and crafts. During the period of the Civil War, the Jewish community suffered from violence and pogroms organized by different groups during the Civil War. As a result, in the 1920s-1930s, many of them left to live in bigger towns and cities. On the eve of the war, only 3% of the population was Jewish, 195 Jews stayed in Vilshana.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Vilshana was occupied by German troops on July 28, 1941. The village remained under German military administration until October 1941. Then it was transferred to the German Civil administration until its liberation in February 1944. Shortly after the occupation, all the Jews were registered and marked with Stars of David, and a ghetto was created. The first shooting was conducted in September 1941. About ten victims, Jews among them, were arrested and taken to the local cemetery where they were shot. The victims were members of the Communist Party or Soviet functionaries. The execution was most probably carried out by members of Einsatzgruppe C. According to different historical sources, there was another execution conducted by the same unit in October 1941, during which about 100 Jewish men and boys were murdered. Unfortunately, none of the witnesses could confirm this information. Although, the local witnesses mentioned another aktion conducted against 52 local residents at the moment of German’s arrival. The victims, it is unclear if there were Jews among them, (but according to the witness they were Ukrainians), were killed inside a sugar factory with a grenade. Their bodies were buried at the cemetery afterwards. The remaining Jews from the ghetto were displaced to Zvenyhorodka on May 2, 1942. They were murdered along with the local Jews.

For more information about the executions in Zvenyhorodka please refer to the following profile

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