1 Execution site(s)
Leonid R., born in 1930, recalls: “I had a Jewish neighbor. She was a tailor. She had two children that were about 3 or 4 years old. They were hiding in the field where I was grazing the cows. I brought her some food. This lasted for about 2 weeks. But after it started to get cold, she didn’t have a choice, so she went to the execution voluntarily. They were killed at the same place as the other Jews.” (Testimony n°1642, interviewed in Kozak on April 26th, 2013)
“In May 1942, a special German punitive detachment arrived in the district of Korets. With the assistance of the head of the German police, they organized the rounding up of Soviet citizens, including men, women, children, and the elderly in the market place. The Germans and armed policemen entered into the houses and apartments of Soviet civilians, mostly Jewish citizens, chased them out of their homes, surrounded them, and brought them to the market square. Those who did not want to obey were beaten with sticks, and those who tried to escape were shot on the spot. Those people were supposed to be taken somewhere to work. The Germans gathered 2,500 civilians and transported them to Kozak’s forest where they shot them and buried them in a ditch. The victims were undressed, their clothes were carried away.
An incline had been made in a corner of the ditch so people could go down into it alive. They knelt down against the wall of the pit. According to the witnesses requisitioned to bury the victims, and according to the number of skulls, more than 1,500 people were shot in each pit. In all – inside the 3 different pits – 4,500 Soviet citizens were killed.” [Final act drawn up by the State Extraordinary Commission in 1945; RG.22.002. 7021-71-54]
Kozak is located 75km east of Rivne. The first records of the village date back to 1629. The village was a part of Poland until 1939. A couple of Jewish families lived in the village according to the local residents; however, we know that the majority of Jews lived in the town of Korets, located 6km away. According to the census of 1921, 4,120 Jews lived in Korets. By 1937, the Jewish population had increased up to 4,895 Jews who represented 75% of the total population. Most of the Jews were traders or artisans. There were at least 84 Jewish shops in the town. Under the Soviet rule the artisans were united in cooperatives or artisanal associations. Many Jews owned local industries. There were 3 mead breweries, 2 steam mills, 2 cloth factories, 2 beer depots, a tannery, and 3 timber yards. In 1910, there were 15 synagogues. In the 1920s and 1930s, branches of various Jewish parties and organizations operated in Korets. The village of Kalynivka was occupied by the German forces in the end of July, 1941. Kozak was occupied by the German forces in the beginning of July, 1941.
Immediately after the German occupation all Jews were registered and marked with distinguishing badges and forced to perform different kind of manual labor, such as, digging trenches. A Judenrat and Jewish police were created. The first execution was conducted four days later, in July 1941. On this day, some 120 Jews, mostly intelligentsia, were taken 2km away into the forest and shot. The second aktion was conducted a couple of weeks later, in late July-early August, 1941, against 350 Jewish women, children and elder from Korets and surrounding villages. They were taken 10km away to the forest close to the village of Kalynivka to be shot. The executions were conducted by Security Police from Rivne, with the help of the German gendarmerie and local police. The ghetto was created fall 1941. Up until May 1942, it was an opened ghetto, but after the third aktion conducted on May 21, 1942, it was fenced in. During the third Aktion, which lasted a couple of weeks, some 2,500 Jews were first gathered at the market place and then taken by trucks or carts to the forest close to the village of Kozak where they were killed in the previously-dug pits. Before being murdered, the Jews were force to undress and get into the ditch. The fourth aktion was conducted at the same place, four months later. The day before, an act of resistance was organized by the members of Judenrat who set fire to their houses. During this time, many Jews succeeded to flee. However, they were found and shot the next day. Thus, on September 25, 1942, 2,000 of the remaining ghetto inmates were shot. The pits were filled in by locals that had been requisitioned to do so.
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