Varkovychi (Varkovichi, Warkowicze) | Rivne

/ A Jewish cemetery in Varkovychi. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The landscape of the Rivne region © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Hanna O. lived not far away from the execution site. She saw people digging the pit, but she didn’t know what it was for. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Yahad team during the interview with the witness of shooting of Jews in Varkovychi. © Aleksey Kasyanov – Yahad – In Unum Oleksandra A, born in 1925, happened to see the mass grave before the shooting: “it was round. It was dug in the sand quarry. It was rather deep. I didn’t see the shooting, but we could hear the gunshots and the Jews screaming.”  © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad Anna T., born in 1927, remembered the pit was dug by prisoners of war: “Once the pit was ready they took the Jews to be shot.  The shooting lasted for 3 days and was conducted by Germans.” © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum SergiyT., born in 1926, saw the trucks entering into the ghetto: “ Once inside, the Jews had to get on the trucks which took them to the shooting.” and how the Jews had to get into these trucks.   © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad - In Unum Neomila N., born in 1930: “The Jews could go out from the ghetto to work. They were guarded by the Jewish police who beat them sometimes”.  © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Motria T., born in 1931, saw the column of Jews being marched from Ozeryany to Varkovychi. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The monument on the execution site of over 2500 Jews from Varkovychi and Ozeryany. Back then it was a sand quarry. © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews from Varkovychi and Ozeryany

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Sand quarry
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Over 2,500

Witness interview

Hanna O., born in 1926, recalls: "It was in the summer. Nobody knew anything! We were just told that prisoners of war were brought here and that they were digging something in a sandpit. But nobody knew what it was. One day, it was in the middle of the summer, we heard the shooting! The houses in the center of the ghetto were on fire! The Jews took all of their best things from the houses to the center of the ghetto and set them on fire! Then we understood that something was going to happen." (Testimony N°1396, interviewed in Varkovychi, on April 3, 2012).

Soviet archives

“The village of Varkovychi was occupied by the Germans on June 29-30, 1941. In May 1942, under the order of the Germans, the entire Jewish population of the village of Varkovychi and some Ozeryany Jews were confined to the ghetto. The remaining Jews in Ozerynay were forced to work on railroad construction. While working, they were guarded by the Ukrainian police. In August 1942, the ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and, starting from October 1942, the Jews were forbidden to leave the territory of the ghetto. However, the Jewish specialists, for instance doctor Shof or the pharmacist Mayberger, did not live in the ghetto and could circulate freely in Varkovychi.” [Deposition of Tigran E., drawn up on December 25, 1944, by the State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 71, Delo 48]

German archives

"One day, I was among the ones led to the pit and saw how the shootings took place. I managed to run away and I hid. I did not see how my daughter was shot. But I know that they were all shot like that at the time. My mother, my sister Fäge, and many cousins were among them. We were a big family. They were all killed." [Deposition of Mr. Grünstein, a Jewish survivor, made in Ramat Gan, on June 17, 1965, B162-5211]

Historical note

Varkovychi is located about 28 km southwest from Rivne on the banks of the Stubla River. The first records about the Jewish community date back to the 18th century. Back then, 322 Jews lived in the village. The majority of Jews lived off small trade and handcraft. Some were engaged in tanning and brewing. It was a typical Jewish shtetl under Polish rule, with four synagogues, a Jewish cemetery, and a Jewish school, opened in the early 20th century. In 1931, 996 Jews lived in Varkovychi. The nearby village of Ozeryany, located 6km away, was founded as a Jewish agricultural colony. According to the census in 1921, 796 Jews lived in Ozeryany along with 47 non-Jews. Other than farming, the Jews from Ozeryany lived off horse and cattle trade. In 1939, the villages were taken over by the Soviets as a result of the Ribentrop-Motov agreement.  From September 1939, all the private artisan workshops and farms were transformed to cooperatives and a kolkhoz was established.  The private Jewish shops were nationalized. On the eve of the war, there were more than 1,200 Jews  living in Varkovychi, including the refugees from Poland, and about 200 in Ozeryany. The villages of Varkovychi and Ozeryany were occupied by the Germans on June 27 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Immediately after the occupation, five members of Jewish intelligentsia were shot.  All Jews were marked with armbands bearing the Star of David and were subjected to forced labor. A closed ghetto was created in April-May 1942 and existed for almost six months.  It was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded by local police. All of the Jews, including those who were brought from Ozeryany, were confined to the ghetto. The liquidation of the ghetto was conducted in early October of 1942. It lasted for a several days, because many Jews escaped and stayed in hiding.  Supposedly, the pits were dug in a sand quarry in advance by prisoners of war. There were men, women and children. Only 200 Jews from Varkovychi managed to survive the Holocaust.

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