3 Execution site(s)
Anfisa K., born in 1934, remembered: “I went with my mother to the field and saw two covered trucks with civilians going from Postavy to the shooting place in Kashitsy. People in the trucks were crying loudly. They were shot there; I believe my cousin was killed there because he tried to escape. There were Jews and civilians people taken by Germans. One day we went with my mother to the forest in Kashitsy and we saw the execution place after the shooting, the pit was slightly covered. I saw a sock on the ground, tied to take it, but it turned out to be a child’s foot. People said that Gypsies were also killed there. One gypsy lady used to come to visit the mass grave and say that her mother was killed there”. (Testimony n°881, interviewed in Kashitsy, on May 12, 2016)
« During the Germans’ occupation about 1500 Jews lived in Postavy. In 1942 the entire Jewish population was confined into the ghetto, located on 3 streets in the northern part of the town. Not only Jews from Postavy were confined there but also the Jews from nearby villages of the district, such as Dunilovichi. Overall, they gathered about 4,000 Jews. The Germans officially registered 2,500 Jews; while others lived without registration.
In November 1942, the Germans under the order of S. started to shoot Jews in their homes and on the streets. The shooting lasted 10 days. Then, the corpses were gathered and buried in mass graves in the north of the town. Personally, I stayed in hiding between houses during the shooting and at night I went to the forest”. [Interrogatory report of a Jewish survivor, Feigel Yankel, made on April 21, 1945, to the State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 83, Delo 13 ]
Postavy is located 250 km west from Vitebsk and 166 km south from Minsk, close to Lithuanian border. At the end of the 19th century there were 1310 Jews in the town, in 1921 the number of Jews increased to about 2,500. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 3 synagogues in Postavy, 34 shops, private Jewish academy and heders. In late summer and early fall in 1915, the Jews suffered from a wave of pogroms conducted by the Cossacks. The Cossacks looted Jewish houses and shops, beaten Jews and humiliated them. The majority of Jews lived off small trade and handcraft. There was a Tarbut school, even though some Jews went to Polish school together with Poles. On the eve of the war there were about 2,500 Jews in Postavy and represented the half of local population. The Germans occupied the town on June 30, 1941.
The ghetto was created in Postavy in July of 1941 shortly after the German’s arrival. The territory of the ghetto was located between Basiliana, Kolezhova and Braslava Streets. It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by Germans. The number of inmates native from Postavy and from the nearing villages varies between 848 and 3000, according to different reports. As in many towns in this region, a Jewish council was established. The Jewish inmates were subjected to different kinds of forced labor, humiliation and abuse coming from policemen and Germans. According to some sources which were confirmed by local witnesses, the local residents could hire Jews from the ghetto for work after having procured a special authorization from the administration of the town.
The execution started from the very beginning of the occupation. Systematically, Jewish inmates of the ghetto were taken in groups to the forest where they were shot. Thus, at the beginning of 1942, 55 Jews (30 women and 25 men) were rounded up and taken in two trucks to the Kashitsy forest, located 5 km away of Postavy and shot. According to the witness, there were also Gypsies and non-Jews among the victims.
The next aktion took place in late November 1942, when the ghetto was liquidated. The execution site was located in the field close to the Lenin Street. According to the witness interviewed by Yahad, there were two lines of Germans. The first line were Germans in black uniforms with submachine guns kneeling down. They conducted the shooting. Two meters behind them there was another line of Germans in blue uniforms with dogs. They were probably guards. Before being shot all Jews were searched, but they didn’t have to undress. Then, the victims were lined up at the edge of the pit, facing the pit, and were shot all together, in one group. It was a column of several rows, about 10 meters long. When it was over, the Germans started walking around the pit and finishing off the victims with single shots. The pit was filled in by local requisitioned people.
According to the archives and the monument about 4000 Jews were killed in Postavy. Many Jews managed to flee into the forest where they joined the partisans who cooperated with the resistance group organized in the Postavy ghetto.
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