Zdolbuniv (Zdolbunov, Zdolbunow) | Rivne

Jews awaiting their execution which was carried out by the Germans, Zdolbuniv © Yad Vashem Photo Archives The Staff of Jung, a German construction firm,  in Zdolbuniv. © Yad Vashem Photo Archives Friedrich Graebe, who was manager of the German construction firm in Zdolbuniv from September 1941 to 1944. He managed to save a group of Jews by providing them Aryan passports. © Yad Vashem Photo Archives Hermann Graebe with the staff of the Jung works in Zdolbuniv © Yad Vashem Photo Archives

Execution of Jews in Zdolbuniv

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 2,000

Soviet archives

“The mass shooting of the inhabitants of the ghetto was conducted on October 13, 1942. A detachment of the Ukrainian police, along with the German gendarmerie, surrounded the ghetto on the night of October 12. They forced all inmates, including men, women, and children, out of their houses and took them to the place located close to the technical secondary school of railroad studies, located on Mitskevich street. Once there, women with children were separated from the men. They were forced to give their ID cards, as well as all valuables, and they were loaded on trucks. The Gestapo took women and children before taking men in the direction of the village of Staromylsk. 1,700 people were shot that day. In the summer of 1942, gallows were built at the market place. In August, Mr. Diner was hung there. All of the Jewish population of the ghetto was forced to assist with this execution, which was carried out in the middle of the day. A wooden placard reading “I didn’t execute the orders of the Gebeitskommissar” was hung over Mr. Diner’s chest. His body stayed there the entire day. During the occupation, on the entries of some shops, there were signs reading “Only for Germans”. [Deposition of a local villager Boris Z., born in 1910, taken on November 27, 1944 by the State Extraordinary Commission; RG.22-002:Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 50]

German archives

“On August 7, 1941, the majority of Jews were arrested and killed in the afternoon at around 5 pm, near the cement factory in Zdolbuniv. The arrests were conducted by the SS and the Ukrainian police. The SS unit also participated in the executions. Men dressed in rain coats and metal helmets with skull and bones logos [Totenkopf] entered the house I was living in. They asked my husband, back then, if he was Jewish. As he said yes. They took him with them. I got out with them and I saw my husband being forced onto a truck along with other Jews to be taken to the prison. About 5 pm, the arrested Jews who were detained in the prison were taken to a pit to be shot. I didn’t see the execution but I heard some shootings. I went to the grave the next day and saw a thin layer of earth. After heavy rains, the clay became crumbly and I could see some body parts coming out. I also found bullets shells from sub machine guns. After that, I went to Rovno, to the Security Service SD to ask what had happened to my husband. I hope that they hadn’t all been killed and that he would come back. At the SD, I was told that there were no executions, that all people had been taken to the forced labor”. [Deposition of Maria B., taken on January 28, 1960; B162-5214]

Historical note

The town is located 14 kilometers south of Rivne. The first records about the Jewish community go back to the late 15th century.  By the early 20th century, the Jewish community grew. In 1910, there were two synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. In 1918, a school with classes in Hebrew was opened in Zdolbuniv. In the 1920sand ‘30s, there were several Jewish political parties and organizations. Back then, the town was an important rail hub, located near the Polish-Soviet border. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade. Some of them were artisans. There were several factories, for instance, a cement factory which was owned by a Jew.  In 1921, only 17 percent of the population was Jewish. There were 1,262 Jews. In 1939, following the invasion of Poland, the town was taken over by the Soviet Union. All Jewish cultural and religious organizations and parties were forbidden. It is estimated that on the eve of the war there were about 1,500 Jews in the town. The Germans occupied Zdolbuniv on June 30, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Shortly after the German arrival, the Jews were forced to wear distinctive badges and to perform forced labor. Their rights were limited and they could not leave the territory of the town and they were regularly beaten, looted, and abused. The first anti-Jewish Aktion was carried out on August 7, 1941. Several hundred Jews were arrested under the pretext of being taken to the forced labor, but were shot instead. The execution was conducted by the Security Police and SD unit that arrived from Rivne. A ghetto, where 1,500 Jewish inmates were confined, was created in late spring or early summer of 1942 and existed for about six months until its liquidation. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Ukrainian police. During its existence, several isolated killings were conducted inside the ghetto. On October 13, 1942, the second mass Aktion was conducted. The remaining Jews were rounded up from the ghetto. They were taken by truck to the quarry, located close to the village of Stary Mylsk, which is now a part of Zdolbuniv, near the cement factory. They were shot. The Jews who tried to resist were shot dead on the spot. Before being killed, the Jews were forced to undress. A number of Jews attacked the policemen at the shooting site. Some of them were killed, some of them managed to escape. Altogether, more than 2,000 Jews were killed in Zdolbuniv between 1941 and 1942. Several Jews were saved by Friedrich Graebe, who was manager and chief engineer of the German construction firm in Zdolbuniv from September 1941 to 1944.



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