Klevan (Klewan) | Rivne

Olha T., born in 1932: “Our town was in ruins. There were a lot of Jews killed on the streets. Their bodies were gathered and put in a pile. I could see it because it wasn’t far away from my home.”  © Aleksey Kasyanov  /Yahad-In Unum Georhiy T., born in 1930: “When I came back to Klevan four days after the arrival of the Germans I saw dead bodies lying in the streets.”  © Aleksey Kasyanov  /Yahad-In Unum Iryna S., born in 1930: "I came there because I thought I would see friends, Ruta and Vusik."© Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Irina S., born in 1930: “We were in the classroom when our teacher told us that the Jews would be killed. He called them enemies. We were children back then and didn’t understand what was happening, so we went.”  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The building of the synagogue where hundreds of Jews were detained and then burned.© Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad-In Unum team interviewing one of the witnesses in Klevan.  © Aleksey Kasyanov  /Yahad-In Unum The execution site of Jews in Klevan. Supposedly, 30 Jews and 18 Poles were murdered here in April 1942  © Aleksey Kasyanov  /Yahad-In Unum The second execution site, located in the forest where about 600 Jews were shot in mid May 1942. © Aleksey Kasyanov  /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Klevan

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest near the railroad (Klevan II) (1); main market square (Klevan I)(2)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
~1,500

Witness interview

Olha T., born in 1932, remembers: “Straight after the Germans’ arrival all Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing patches but they could continue to live in their houses. Many of them tried to flee or stay in hiding. We had Jewish neighbors who managed to hide during the first round-up and they weren’t killed. From time to time they came to our house to hide. They knew that it was dangerous for us as well because if they were found we all would be killed. So, after a while they left and hid in the quarry.” (Testimony n° 1370, interviewed in Klevan I, on December 5, 2011)

Soviet archives

“At the beginning of July 1941, the German fascist troops occupied the Klevan district and started the mass execution of civilians, in particular the Jews. On the night of July 2nd, 1941, I heard gunshots. In the daytime, the Germans shot the civilians dead. At the Market square they executed about 200 people. Some of them were doused with gasoline and burned alive. The Germans did not allow people to remove the bodies. When it started to stink so much that we could not pass by, they forced people to bury the bodies. 200 people were shot were buried at the same place. In addition, I saw how people took out ten or fifteen burned bodies from the K.’s house basement, but I do not know where they were buried.” [Deposition of an eyewitness, Khariton K., given to the Soviet Extraordinary commission on November 24, 1944; RG.22-002M : Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 51]

Historical note

Klevan is a town located on the banks of the Stubli River, about 20 km northwest of Rivne. In 1897, 2,432 Jews lived in the town, comprising 65% of the total population.  By 1921, its population decreased to 1,527 Jews, but according to some Polish documents dated from 1929, Klevan was considered a Jewish shtetl. There were 3 synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. The majority of Jews from Klevan lived off small-scale trade. According to the witnesses, there was a Ukrainian school where all children, Jewish and non-Jewish, from the town went. Just before German occupation, the community likely increased to about 1,800 Jews.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Germans occupied Klevan on July 3, 1941. During the first days of the occupation, 500 to 700 Jews were killed at the main market square or on the streets and inside the houses. Afterwards, all the bodies were transported to the synagogue which was burned down. The remaining Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing badges and subjected to perform different kinds of forced labor. An open ghetto was established in the spring of 1942 and it numbered about 700 Jews. According to the local witnesses, there was another place, located in Klevan II, where Jews had been gathered prior to the shooting. It was a big house guarded by Germans or police. Many young girls and women were raped by Germans in the ghetto.  The next execution occurred on April 11, 1942, when 48 people, 30 Jews and 18 Poles, were taken to the forest near the railroad and shot dead. The remaining Jews from the ghettos were murdered in mid-May 1942 by the Germans who were helped by Ukrainian auxiliary police. On May 13, 1942, about 600 Jews found in hiding were murdered in the mass shooting in a forest near Klevan. According to an eyewitness of the shooting interviewed by Yahad, the execution was conducted by a young 20 year old or so German. The Jews were shot on the plank that was put across the pit.

Jewishgen

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