1 Execution site(s)
Ivan D., born in 1935, remembers :
"Q: Was there a Jewish cemetery? A place where Jews buried their dead?
A: I’m not aware of such a place, but after the massacre, the victims’ corpses were buried directly at the spot they were found at, because there were bodies all over the village. Their houses were burned down after the execution. So some bodies were burned in the houses or in the cellars. There were also cellars built near the houses. As for the others, at that time the river was overflowing because it had been raining a lot. I cannot tell you for sure if the Jews were killed over the course of one or two days, but most of corpses were thrown into the river and carried away by the current. Others were buried at the places they were found. There are no marks indicating where these graves are. It was our people [Ukrainians] who were forced to bury the bodies. We were ordered to get the job done at gunpoint.
Q: Was it people living near the river who had to bury the bodies or was it everyone?
A: There were so-called local servants [collaborators] in every country. I think you understand what I mean.
Q: Of course.
A: It was them who had to requisition people and they knew who to turn to to get the job done. That’s how it was." (Testimony N°YIU2442U, interviewed in Yablunytsia, on July 11, 2018)
"In Yablonitsa [ today Yablunytsia], on the Polish side - devastated by the Romanians a few days earlier - 50 Jewish families (300 people) were attacked and locked up in a cellar. As the Romanian occupation authorities failed to intervene, after three days of suffering these 300 Jews were pushed out of the cellar, torn apart with pickaxes and thrown into the water. Some of the victims’ corpses were carried away by the current to the Kuty shore, where they were buried. The only survivor was Mrs. Surkis, who was thrown into the river badly injured and was rescued by passers-by. Later on she went mad because her husband and children were murdered in front of her eyes." [Descriptions and eyewitness reports about the fate of the Yablonitsa border zone near Snyatin [Sniatyn today] during the war years 1941-1944; BArch162-2231, p.186]
Yablunytsia is a mountain town located about 140 km (87mi) south of Ivano-Frankivsk, in the Verkhovyna district. Under Polish rule, many Jewish families lived in the quarter near the Cheremosh river. They were religious and had a synagogue in the town center. They were mainly involved in commerce, and owned stores. Before the war, the village was invaded by the Soviets following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. According to Yahad eyewitnesses, about 30 Jewish families lived in Yablunytsia on the eve of the war.
Yablunytsia was occupied by German troops in July 1941. Local Jews were murdered in the summer of 1941. Yahad field research revealed that the massacre was organized by a Ukrainian priest, N., and carried out by a group of local Ukrainians. Before being killed, the Jews were rounded up and placed in a cellar. The massacre took place at night. Some victims were brutally murdered in front of their houses, others directly in the cellar or on next to the river. In total, according to German archives, circa. 300 people perished in a single night. Most of the bodies were then thrown into the Cheremosh river and carried away by the current, while others were buried directly across several execution sites, including the sawmill grounds. Only one Jewish woman managed to survive the massacre.
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