2 Execution site(s)
Oleksandr S., born in 1928, recalls: “I saw one of my Jewish classmates in the column. The weather was cold. I was outside, waiting for friends to play. Suddenly, I saw the column going along the railway line in the direction to Pisky. The column was escorted by the police and Germans. There were about fifty Jewish men in that column. They carried their belongings with them. They had to walk about 4 km to Pisky.” (Testimony n°2250, interviewed in Romny on June 16, 2017)
“The next day, on November 10th, 1941, all Jews were taken under guard, 2km away from Romny, towards the village of Pisky, where they were shot at the edge of three large ravines. […] Women carried babies in their arms; family members and relatives hugged each other; men, the elderly, women and children were crying. Victims who walked slowly and stayed behind were beaten and pierced with bayonets by the German soldiers and policemen. People who lived on the street by which the Jews were taken were forced to return back into their homes. They were forbidden under threat of death to watch this frightful march.
Near the execution site, down the hill, flows the river Sula, about 7m wide. It is near this river that the fascists undressed their victims to their underwear and, in the cold weather which sometimes reached -15 °C, took them along the river at the top of the hill. Once there, they separated the women and children from the men and began to shoot them in groups of 10-15 people at the edge of the ravines. Some victims fell into the ravines alive. Most of them were children. They were killed with automatic weapons inside the ravine or remained alive until they were buried.” [Act of State Extraordinary Commission drawn up from October 1st to November 6th, 1943; RG22.002M: 7021-74-510]
Pisky is located on the banks of the Romen River, 110 km west of Sumy. Little is known about the Jews of Pisky. The biggest Jewish community of this area lived in Romny, a town situated 3,5 km north of Pisky. The first record of the Jews date back to the late 18th century. In 1803, there were only 127 Jews but by 1897, the Jewish community numbered 6,378, almost the third of total population. At the time, many Jews owned local industries such as tannery, soap factory, tobacco house and distilleries. They owned about 300 local stores. In 1910, there were 9 synagogues, 1 Talmud Torah, 5 Jewish schools, consisting of 2 for men and 3 for women, a professional women’s Jewish school, and a Jewish cemetery
arrived from expelled territories. In 1917, Jewish parties operated in Romny, including the branches of “HeHalutz”. The Jewish community suffered through several waves of pogroms, conducted in 1881, in 1905, and in 1918-1919, during which the Jewish houses and commerce were plundered and several Jews were killed. Under Soviet rule many Jewish cultural organization were forbidden and the synagogues were closed. The last one was closed in 1938. By 1926, the number of Jews had declined to 8,593 and dropped even further to 3,834 in 1939, comprising only 15% of the total population. This was due to the relocation of Jews during that time to agricultural colonies located in the Kherson region.
Pisky and Romny were occupied by the German troops on September 10th, 1941. Almost 70% of the prewar Jews managed to evacuate by that time. According to the historical resources and Yahad’s research all Jewish population of Romny, situated 3,5 km north of Pisky, was resettled to the houses on Dimitrov street in the fall of 1941, where they stayed until the first execution, conducted in mid-November. They were registered and marked with armbands. On November 10th, 1941, they were brought in a column to Pisky. A local woman interviewed by Yahad, happened to see that column. According to her testimony, the Jews carried their belonging with them; they did not know they were going to be executed. The column was convoyed by the Germans assisted by the local police. Suddenly, they started to throw the Jewish children into the river. According to the witness, about 10 children were killed in that way. When the column arrived to the execution site, the Jews were forced to take off their shoes. After they had to undress to their underwear and wait for the execution in the cold weather. The shooting took place in two or three ravines on the hill. The Jews were shot in groups of 10-15 people. Some of them fell to the pit alive. In all, at least 1,000 people were executed that day. Today, there is a monument, but, with the help of the head of local Jewish community, Yahad team discovered that the monument isn’t located on the exact place of the shooting, which took place 60 meters up on the hill. Besides the Jewish victims, Soviet prisoners of war were also executed in Romny.
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