Vysotsk (Wysock, Wysotsk) | Rivne

Plan of the Jewish quarter in Vysotsk. Taken during the field research. © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum / Maria L., born in 1926: “They were shot in groups of tens   or fifteens with sub machine guns.”© Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Fedir K., born in 1933: “Right after the occupation, the Jews continued to live in their houses, but a couple of months later, all of the city center was fenced in with barbed wire.”© Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team during an interview © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The street that use to be the part of the ghetto © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The street that use to be the part of the ghetto © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The execution site of about 1,600-1,800 Jews murdered in Vysotsk © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Vysotsk

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Field
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Between 1,600 and 1,800

Witness interview

Lubov K., born in 1925, remembers:
« Y.U. : What did Germans do with Jewish clothes ?
W: The clothes were gathered and taken to the Klub that existed back then. There, the clothes were sorted. I don’t know what they did with the best clothes, but those who didn’t have much value were sold.
Y.U.: Where was the Klub situated?
W: At the same place as modern-day.
Y.U. : How did they transport the clothes ? By cart?
W: Yes.
Y.U. : Did they use the same carts to transport the corpses ?
W: No. Those who were shot disrobed by themselves. They were forced to strip naked. Then, naked, they laid down inside the pit. They threw their clothes on a pile close to the pit.
Y.U. : So, does it mean that other carts came to pick up the clothes?
W: No! The clothes were put on each of the carts and taken to the village. They took everything, clothing, and shoes. After, it was sorted. The young women were forced by Germans to sort the clothes that were sold afterwards, especially the clothing that didn’t have any value. While sorting the clothes the girls were watched, and every time they left the premise the Germans escorted them.
Y.U. : How much time did it take to sort the clothing ?
Y.U. : One or two months, I don’t remember anymore because so much time has passed since then. (Testimony n°542, interviewed in Vysotsk, on January 2nd, 2008)

Soviet archives

« Upon their arrival, the German soldiers didn’t touch any Jews until July 1942, including myself. In July 1942, the Wachmaïster from the Gendarmeria based in Vysotsk gave an order to gather all the Jews in the village of Vysotsk. All the Jews from the villages nearby were rounded-up by the police and brought to Vysotsk as well. The elder people and children were confined into the camp created for this purpose. It was fenced in with 7 or 8 rows of barbed wire and guarded by the police. The Jews were forbidden from leaving the territory. We weren’t given any food. We stayed in the camp from July to September 9th, 1942. […] On this day, twenty SD soldiers accompanied by 150 policemen arrived from Stolin. We were forced to kneel down and they took all of our money, gold and valuables. It was Germans who carried out the raid because they didn’t trust the policemen. After that, we were divided in three groups. The first group, which numbered 500 or so, was taken to the north-east of Vysotsk where a pit was already dug. Once there, everyone was forced to strip naked and, in groups of tens, were taken to the pit and shot. The shooting was conducted by the Germans from Stolin, whose names I don’t know. All I know is that they bragged about having killed more than 7,000 Jews. [Deposition of a Jewish survivor, Nison Ionov, born in 1893, given to the State Extraordinary Soviet Commission (ChGK), RG-22.002M:7021-71-45]

Historical note

Vysotsk is located about 130 km north of Rivne. The first records of the Jewish community date back to the early 17th century. By 1897 its population rose to 880 Jews and represented 96% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade. Others were artisans or worked on food-processing industries which largely developed in the late 19th – early 20thcenturies. In 1919-1920 the Jews suffered from several pogroms. Nevertheless, in 1921, 944 residents out of 976 were Jewish. There was a synagogue. Under the Polish rule, before the town was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1939, the Zionist movement operated in the town.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The town was occupied by the Germans in early July 1941. Shortly after the occupation, all the Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing patches and their houses with Stars of David. The Jews were subjected to forced labor. In August 1941, about 170 women with children were brought from David-Gorodok while their husbands were shot in David-Gorodok. The ghetto was created at the end of July 1942 and existed for a little bit more than one month. According to the local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire. It numbered about 1,500 Jews, including 170 Jews from David Gorodok and 150 Jews from nearby villages. Due to living conditions and overcrowding, many Jews died inside the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated on September 9, 1942 by the Security police unit who arrived from Pinsk for this purpose.   Before being taken to the shooting, all of the Jews were gathered at the central square and divided in three groups. All three groups were taken outside the town, 2.5km away, to a place called Lyadon where two pits were prepared in advance by the requisitioned local villagers. According to the research results, the same villagers were forced to fill in the pits after the execution. Once on the site, the Jews were forced to lie down inside the pit and were shot to death. About 100 Jews attempted to escape in the forests but the majority of them were shot dead on the spot. Their corpses were gathered and thrown in the same mass grave.

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