1 Execution site(s)
Maria Kh., born in 1933: “I saw a column of carts passing by while I was sitting outside my house. They were full of Jews who were being taken down the main street towards the outskirts of the village. The elderly people and children were taken by cart, while others were walking. My father was forced to go and transport the Jews on his cart. The column was guarded by Germans and local policemen. They marched on both sides of the column and behind it. There were many guards behind the column. The guards were dressed in green uniforms, held weapons, and some of them even had dogs. It was impossible for the Jews to escape.” (Witness n°1008B, interviewed in Zembin, on October 1, 2019)
“In August 1941, at about 12:00, policeman G* arrived at my house and ordered me to get ready and to take a shovel. I got ready and went to the indicated place: Begomel road in Borisov, near the woods, on a small bridge. We were told to stay there and await further instructions. We stayed on this small bridge and heard bursts of machine gunfire and pistols about 300m from us. About fifteen minutes later, the shooting stopped. E*** came to us and told us to follow him. He lead us to the pit. When we looked into the pit and saw 760 Jews shot. E*** ordered us to quickly bury the bodies. Two hours later, the bodies were buried. The people who had buried the Jews were then allowed to go home. The policemen accompanied them. 18 German executioners and the policeman G*** participated in the shooting. E***, the organizer of the execution of the Jews, also participated. There were also about 100 German guards. The pit in which the Jews were shot is located in the place called "Zagornoe". It is 40m long, 2.5m wide and 2.5m deep. [...]” [Deposition of a local requisitioned man, Eduard B., born in 1906 given to the State Extraordinary Commission on October 6, 1944; GARF: Fond 7021, opis 87, delo 3 et 4]
“From Borisov we went to Zembin without the Ordnungsdienst. I still remember the bad roads (sand, swamp...) and finally we had a better stretch of road when we arrived in Zembin. There, Jewish men, women, and children were [already gathered] in the marketplace, guarded by the Wehrmacht (it was not the Feldgendarmerie). There were about 20 Wehrmacht men present. I don’t know why they were there (...). I think we arrived in the afternoon. I still remember the column, but I can’t say how many people were in it. It was more like 200 people rather than 400-500. The victims were taken out of the village by the Wehrmacht, on a country road leading to a forest. Then the victims had to wait in a field. There was a small wood, and behind it a rectangular pit. The Wehrmacht brought the victims to the pit. It was our men and the Wehrmacht volunteers who fired. The victims did not have to undress. I know that one of our officials was in the pit who explaining to the people how to lie down.” [Deposition of Willy K, member of Einzatskommando 8, given on March 1st, 1963, in Koln, BArch B162-3291 p. 13]
Zembin, founded in the 16th century, is a village located 82 km (51mi) northeast pf Minsk. In 1897, 1,037 out of 1,186 residents were Jewish. In 1926, 838 Jews lived in the town making up 70% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off trade and handicraft. On the eve of the war, about 900 Jews remained in the village.
Zembin was occupied by German forces on June 30, 1941. About a week later, all the Jews were registered and marked with yellow distinguishing badges. The ghetto was created in the mid July 1941. It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by local police. Jewish inmates fit to work were subjected to hard labor. The mass execution took place on August 18, 1941. That day, under the pretext of future resettlement, all the Jews from the ghetto were gathered and led to the forest. Upon arrival, they were shot in groups of 15-20 people on the edge of the pit. The pit was filled in by local requisitioned people. According to the historical sources, 750 Jews were shot that day. The Aktion was conducted by the chief of the Borisov SD unit.
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