Smordva (Smordwa) | Rivne

Local landscape. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum These buildings used to be the property of a Polish Count and later part of the labor camp. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Petro K., born in 1930: “The pit was about 40 meters long. I saw the Jews escorted by the Germans. There were about a hundred.”© Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yevstafi Z., born in 1930: “The ghetto was fenced in with wooden planks and barbed wire. There was only one entrance. ”  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad-In Unum team working in Smordva  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Vira T., born in 1929, at the execution site: ”One day, I was in our garden on the hill and saw about ten Jews being lined up at the edge of the pit. The Germans shot them in their backs with machine guns.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Smordva

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Hill
Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
13

Witness interview

Yevstafi Z., born in 1930, remembers: “All of the Jews brought for forced labor were confined in a camp, at a place called Stadtgut. The camp’s territory was fenced in with wooden planks and barbed wire. There was only one entrance. Under the Polish rule it was a Count’s property. There were big potatoes plantations. So, the Jews were used as forced labor to harvest the potatoes. Every morning they were taken to the fields escorted by Germans and local police. Sometimes they were subjected to abuse and humiliation. For example, I saw them being forced to undress and get into the river. And it was in winter when outside was minus 10 degrees. Another time, while being escorted, they were forced to sing a song. It was inhuman what they did to them. ” (Testimony n°1373, interviewed in Smordva, on December 7th, 2011)

Soviet archives

“On April 15, 1943, 13 people were killed in Smordva, district of Mlinov. The column was marched by the village when meanwhile the villagers were requisitioned to dig a pit. Then, 13 people were shot in front of the villagers. The Commission established that there were 3 pits with 600 people in the village of Smordva. [Act drawn up by the State Extraordinary Commission RG.22-002M: Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 60]

Historical note

Smordva is located 50km southwest of Rivne. According to the local witnesses, there was only one Jewish family in Smordva. They were shopkeepers. The bigger Jewish community lived in the nearby town of Mlyniv. The earliest known record about it dates back to late 16th - early 17th century. In 1897, 209 Jews lived in the town and by 1897 its population rose to 672, comprising 60% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handcraft. There was a Jewish synagogue and a cemetery in Mlyniv.  Between the two wars the villages were under Polish rule, but in September 1939 they were annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1939 a Jewish kolkhoz was created in Mlyniv. On the eve of the war it is estimated that about 1,500 Jews, including 730 local Jews and refugees from Western Poland, lived in Mlyniv.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The area was occupied by Germans on June 24th, 1941. According to Yahad field research, the one Jewish family native to Smordva was murdered shortly after the Germans’ arrival. Shortly after the occupation, a labor camp was created in Smordva, located on the former Polish count’s manor. Besides about 200 men from Mlyniv who were resettled there, there were also Jews brought from the nearing villages such as Boremel and Demydivka. According to the local witnesses the camp was fenced in and guarded by local police.  The Jewish inmates were forced to do physical labor, such as farm work. Some tried to flee. Those who were captured were shot on the spot. According to the Soviet commission, there were 3 pits where 600 Jews were murdered. However, during field research, Yahad could confirm only one execution of 13 Jews conducted in April 1943. There is no information about when and how the Jewish inmates from the labor camp were murdered. 

For more information about the execution in Mlyniv please refer to the corresponding profile.

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