Korchivya (Korczewie) | Rivne

/ Rural ambiance © Aleksey Kasyanov – Yahad-In Unum Mykhailo S. remembered that the shooters fired from the edge of the pit with machine guns at the Jews laying down at the bottom of the pit. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Sofia K. saw the Jews of Stepan being brought to Korchivya: “At least five columns passed by the street we lived in. There were women, men, elderly people, and children among them. They walked calmly.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The gathering place where the Jews stayed over night before being taken to the shooting. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team during the interview in the yard of the witness’ house © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The monument on the execution site in the memory of about 4,000 Jews murdered in Korchivya.© Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews from Derazhne, Stepan and Kostopil

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
About 4,000

Witness interview

Sofia K., born in 1922, explains: "In Korchivya, there was a small pond where the Jews were gathered. They spent the night there and later they were taken into the forest to be shot. People from the village were requisitioned to dig the pits." (Testimony n°1425, interviewed in Korchivya, on April 11, 2012)

Soviet archives

"I saw the Jews being shot with my own eyes, we heard hideous screams. Then, after half an hour it stopped. First, they were undressed and then they were forced to kneel down in front of the pit. They were shot one after another in the nape of the neck, and they fell into the pit. Then, others went down into the pit to arrange the bodies. When they came back up, they were in turn shot in the same manner." [Deposition of Avram V., taken in 1944 by the State Extraordinary Commission; RG-22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 55]

Historical note

Korchivya is located about 40 km south of Rivne. According to the local witnesses only few Jews lived in Korchivya. The big Jewish community lived in the nearing towns of Kostopil, Derazhne and Stepan. Stepan is located on the banks of the Horyn river, about 86 km east of Rivne.  The first records about the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century. In 1897, 1,854 Jews lived in Stepan, comprising 40% of the total population. In 1921, 1,337 Jews lived in the town due to relocation and immigration after a wave of pogroms.   The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handcraft.  There was a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. In 1939, the village was taken over by Soviets as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. From September 1939, religious institutions were closed. According to Martin Dean, 1,600 Jews lived in Stepan on the eve of the war.  The district was occupied in the early July 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Within the first months of German occupation, all Jews were marked with armbands and yellow distinguishing badges. They were subjected to perform forced labor, like repairing of the bridge over the Horyn river. While working they were guarded by local Ukrainian police. During all this time the Jews had to pay systematically contributions in gold, fur coats, cattle. Contrary to other places in the district, the ghetto in Stepan was created a couple of months after the Germans arrived, in early October 1941. The ghetto was fenced in with a wooden fence and barbed wire and was guarded by local Ukrainian police. In all, 2,000 Jews from Stepan and nearby villages were confined there. During the entire time of the ghettos existence, the men fit to work were taken for forced labor and some men were transferred to the labor camp in Kostopil, where they were most likely killed. On August 21, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto was conducted.  50 Jews were killed the spot, while over 1,500 remaining Jews were taken to Kostopil by cart and shot on the way, close to the village of Korchivya. Several days after this Aktion, on August 24, 1942, about 1,900 Jews were brought from Derazhne and shot dead. According to the witness, who was requisitioned to dig the pit, there were four pits of 12m long, 3m wide and 2m deep. The Jewish men were shot separately from women and children. The Jews were shot in small groups of fives at the bottom of the pit. Before get inside the pit, they had to disrobe. The shooting was conducted by the SD unit from Rivne. The remaining escapees were found and shot in September 1942 at different places. In all, they were about 553.  Only a few dozen Jews managed to survive the Holocaust with the help of local Ukrainians.

For more information about the executions in Derazhne and Kostopil please refer to the corresponding profile

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