About this page
This page is locked. Want to contribute to this page? Contact bgill
In December 1941, a few cases of typhus broke out in the camp. A decision was made by the German adviser to the Romanian administration of the district and the Romanian District Commissioner to murder all the inmates.
The Aktion began on December 21, and was carried out by Romanian soldiers and gendarmes, Ukrainian police and civilians from Golta, and local ethnic Germans under the commander of the Ukrainian regular police, Kazachievici.
Thousands of disabled and ill inmates were forced into two locked stables, which were doused with kerosene and set ablaze, burning alive all those inside. Other inmates were led in groups to a ravine in a nearby forest and shot in the neck.
The remaining Jews dug pits with their bare hands in the bitter cold, and packed them with frozen corpses. Thousands of Jews froze to death. A break was made for Christmas, but the killing resumed on December 28. By December 31, over 40,000 Jews had been killed.
The Killings in Transnistria
Transnistria is an artificial geographic term, created in World War II, referring to the part of the Ukraine conquered by German and Romanian troops in the summer of 1941. Before the war this area had a Jewish population of 300,000.
Tens of thousands of them were slaughtered by Einsatzgruppe D, and by German and Romanian forces. When Transnistria was occupied it was used for the concentration of the Jews of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and northern Moldavia who were expelled on the direct order of Ion Antonescu. The deportations began on September 15, 1941, and continued, until the fall of 1942. Most of the Jews who survived the mass killings carried out in Bessarabia and Bukovina were deported to Transnistria by the end of 1941.
Also deported to Transnistria were political prisoners and Jews who had evaded the existing regulations on forced labor. The total number of deportees was apparently 150,000, although German sources put the figure at 185,000. On October 13, 1942, the Romanians called a halt to the deportations to Transnistria.
The Murderous Acitivities of the Romanians
The ghettos and camps in the region were in the hands of the gendarmerie and the Romanian administrative authorities. In late November 1941 most of the Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina were herded into ghettos and camps in northern and central Transnistria. Following the Antonescu - ordered slaughter of the Jews of Odessa, the Romanian occupation authorities deported the survivors to camps
Bogdanovka (Romanian, Bogdanovca), camp located on the Bug River, in the village of Bogdanovka in Transnistia. It was established in October 1941 by the Romanian occupation authorities.
By December 1, 1941, over 54,000 Jews from Bessarabia and Odessa were imprisoned in the camp. In mid-December, typhus broke out in Bogdanovka. At that point, the Romanians and Germans decided to destroy the entire camp population. The extermination began on December 21.
Romanian soldiers and police, Ukrainian police, and local civilians took part, under the command of the local Ukrainian police chief. Approximately 5,000 sick and handicapped prisoners were locked into two stables which were then burnt down. The rest of the prisoners were marched in groups of 300--400 to the river. They were forced to remove their clothing and kneel. Then they were shot or hit with hand grenades. The killing continued for four days, during which 30,000 Jews were murdered.
The killing was stopped temporarily on Christmas Eve, while the remaining Jews were left outside, freezing and waiting to die. The massacre began again on December 28; 11,000 Jews were killed by December 31. Two hundred were kept alive to burn the bodies, after which most of them were either killed or died from exposure.in the Golta district: 54,000 to the Bogdanovka camp, 18,000 to the Akhmetchetka camp, and 8,000 to the Domanevkacamp. In Bogdanovka all the Jews were shot to death, with the Romanian gendarmerie, the Ukrainian police, and Sonderkommando R, made up of Volksdeutsche, taking part. In January and February 1942, 12,000 Ukrainian Jews were murdered in the two other camps. Another 28,000 Jews, mostly from the Ukraine, were killed by the SS and German police, with the help of local Germans in southern Transnistria. By March 1943 no more than 485 Ukrainian Jews were left in all of southern Transnistria. A total of 185,000 Ukrainian Jews were murdered by Romanian and German army units.
[Source: Yad Vashem]
The Romanians had no plans for the resettlement of tens of thousands of deportees from Romania, and their sole aim was to drive the Jews further east and north. No provisions were made for the most basic necessities. The winter of 1941 - 1942 was severe, with tens of thousands of deportees perishing. The deported Romanian Jews organized on their own and tried to establish mutual aid. The situation improved as the winter of 1942 - 1943 drew near, when the first shipments of aid from the Jewish communities in the Regat and southern Transylvania reached the Jews in Transnistria.Attempts to Provide Aid to Jews in Transnistria
On December 17, 1941, Wilhelm Filderman, obtained Antonescu's consent for aid to be sent to Transnistria; but the authorities placed all sorts of obstacles in the way. Still, the aid played an important role in helping at least some to survive. The determined efforts made by the Jewish organizations, together with the second thoughts that the Romanian leaders were having about their policy, paved the way for representatives of the Comisia Autonoma de Asistenta (Autonomous Committee for Assistance) being permitted to visit the area. Toward the end of 1943, aid for the deported Jews in Transnistria was being sent there by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the rescue committee of the Jewish Agency in Turkey, the World Jewish Congress, and the Oeuvre De Secours aux Enfants (OSE). In February 1943 Pope Pius XII made a nominal contribution to the aid effort. The Consiliul Evreesc (Jewish Council) focused its struggle on the repatriation of the deportees and on the release of some of them to go to Palestine.
Also in April 1943, the council, with the help of the Centrala Evreilor (Jewish Center), obtained Antonescu's permission for the return to Romania of 5,000 orphans and other Jews. The 5,000 were not repatriated, owing to German opposition, obstructions put in the way by the governor of Transnistria, and the intervention of the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al - Husseini. Filderman was expelled to Transnistria in May 1943, and upon his return to Romania in August called on the government to enable all the Jews to return to Romania.
Finally, with the Soviet army closing in on Transnistria, permission was given for the Jews to come back, and in mid - December 1943 the first group of 1,500 survivors returned. In March 1944 a group of 1,841 orphans, out of 4,500 still alive at the time, came back. On March 15, the Soviet army launched the liberation of Transnistria.
At this point a Jewish committee from Bucharest succeeded in repatriating another group, consisting of 2,518 deportees. Of the Jews who had been deported to Transnistria, a total of 145,000 to 150,000, some 90,000 perished there. Many of the remaining survivors were allowed to return to Romania in 1945 and 1946.
Remembering the Annihilation of Bogdanovka
Among the hundreds of monuments that form the stark and moving Sheepshead Bay Holocaust Memorial – monuments bearing familiar names like Auschwitz, Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen and Babi Yar – one stone, the most recently engraved, stands out. It stands out because you have never heard of the village that it memorializes.
In fact, were it not for the passion and tenacity of a grandchild of one of the victims of the Bogdanovka massacre the memory of this incredible atrocity would have been swept into the dustbin of history.
The village of Bogdanovka was a Jewish collective farm among the huge collectives of the fertile Stavropol region near the Caucasian Mountains.
Stavropol, besides being the breadbasket of Russia was also the birthplace of Nobel prize-winning author Solzhenitsyn and first president of the USSR Gorbachev, among other notables.
Small as it was, Bogdanovka was efficient and productive and considered a model farm. In 1943 only women, children and old men inhabited Bogdanovka because all males of military age were enlisted in the battle against Nazi Germany. Utilizing as cruel and demonic a ruse as can be imagined, the Nazis gathered the 472 residents of the town together on Yom Kippur of that year, ostensibly to commemorate the holiday.
Instead, every one of the elderly men and women, mothers, infants and children were thrown alive into an abandoned well by the Nazis and their collaborators. Only two young children managed to escape into the woods.
Also saved from this horror was Mrs. Zoya Yusupova who had just married and moved to another village. She learned the fate of her father, mother and sister from gentile eyewitnesses. Still later she learned that her husband had been killed in action.
Years later after immigrating to the United States with her two sons, her older son, Alex, came in contact with Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (F.R.E.E.), the Chabad-Lubavitch organization devoted to assisting new immigrants from the FSU. In time, Alex Yusupov became very close to F.R.E.E. and Rabbis Herschel and Mayer Okunov who founded the organization at the request of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Inspired by the dedication of F.R.E.E. he became reacquainted with his Jewish roots, which had become a distant memory during the years of Communism, the Nazi nightmare and the upheaval that followed.
Along with this came the mission to memorialize the martyred souls of Bogdanovka. With the creation of the Sheepshead Bay Holocaust Memorial Park and its many monuments it seemed that Alex’ dream would become a reality. “It was not that easy,” according to Alex, “only after five years of negotiating and red tape was permission given to place a monument in memory of the victims of this unspeakable crime.”
“My mom was only 17 at the time,” he continued, “We want to show our kids what happened to our grandfather and grandmother.” On Sunday morning, May 8, as President Bush and Russian President Putin prepared to celebrate the end of World War II in Red Square, a small group, representing the remnant of those with a connection to the tragic victims of Bogdanovka, gathered in Sheepshead Bay to dedicate the new monument and to remember.
During a program organized by Mr. Yusupov in conjunction with F.R.E.E., Rabbi David Hollander, spiritual leader of the Hebrew Alliance - FREE Synagogue, declared that the plight of the Jews during World War II was met by a world whose “hearts had turned to stone.”
Surrounded by the hundreds of granite monuments that comprise the memorial, Rabbi Hollander’s words resonated as he proclaimed, “the very stones weep.” Many were brought to tears as Mrs. Yusupova spoke and Rabbi Ephraim Okunov chanted Keyl Male Rochmim. The program continued at the F.R.E.E. Synagogue in Brighton Beach where the group was addressed by Alex Yusupov and many of the older participants.
F.R.E.E. - Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe was founded in 1969 at the directive of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as the Chabad Lubavitch Russian Immigrant Program, led by a group of young "partisans" and fellow Soviet refugees.
Since then, F.R.E.E.'s unique approach has found a path to the hearts and souls of tens of thousands of Russian-speaking Jewish families, by providing free bar mitzvahs, summer camps, kosher food, Jewish education and circumcisions on boys and men who were forbidden to have them in the former USSR.
Defying local government, Belarusian villager Builds Private Monument to Holocaust Victims
17 March 2009 - "Nikolai Ilyuchik of Belarus has built a memorial to six men shot near the town of Bogdanovka during the Holocaust.
Defying municipal threats, Ilyuchik erected the monument from metal and concrete in his own yard, from where his sons built a path to the site of the killing, about a kilometre away. Lacking historical records, he questioned elderly villagers and found out some information on the victims' identity, whose families were deported to a ghetto.
800,000 Belarusian Jews lost their lives during the war, many of them in mass shootings. Most memorials do not denote the Jewish identity of the victims."
"Before the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, five Jewish families lived in Bogdanovka, then a village of 1,000 people 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Minsk...six men who were shot -- two blacksmiths, two farmers, a trader and a rabbi...
Their families were rounded up and sent to a ghetto. Ilyuchik was unable to determine whether any of the women or children had survived. But two teenage boys who managed to escape the Nazis were saved by Ilyuchik's grandfather, who hid them in his barn for about six months. They later joined partisan forces fighting with the Red Army, where they became friends with Ilyuchik's father."
Nikolai Ilyuchik stands near a memorial he built, in defiance of the local government, to the six men shot Aug. 2, 1941, on the outskirts of the village of Bogdanovka, Friday, Feb. 27, 2009.
BOGDANOVKA, Belarus --
Nikolai Ilyuchik was 11 when his mother first told him how the Nazis killed all the Jewish men in their Belarusian village during World War II. Three decades later, in defiance of the local government, Ilyuchik has built his own memorial to the six men shot Aug. 2, 1941, on the outskirts of Bogdanovka. It was something he just had to do."I was shaken by my mother's stories, because there was almost nothing in our textbooks about the Holocaust," the 42-year-old fireman said. "I built the monument to honor the memory, not for money or glory."
The Holocaust has been hushed up and largely forgotten in Belarus, a former Soviet republic between Poland and Russia where 800,000 Jews lost their lives during the war. Even though President Alexander Lukashenko in 2007 compared Jews to pigs, the Belarusian government denies the existence of anti-Semitism. It pays lip service to Holocaust victims while at the same time allowing the destruction of Jewish cemeteries.
"In school textbooks, the history of the Holocaust is told in several paragraphs," Belarusian Jewish community leader Yakov Basin said. "In encyclopedias and academic literature, the history of the Jews is still suppressed."
Belarus lumps Jews together with all those who died during World War II, rather than acknowledging they were victims of genocide, he said. About one-third of its population died in the war, including about 90 percent of the Jews, who formed a substantial minority in the predominantly Slavic nation. Only about 25,000 Jews remain in the nation of 10 million.
Soviet-era monuments erected on the sites of mass shootings of Jews noted the deaths only of "Soviet citizens."
So the determination of Ilyuchik, a Christian, to honor a handful of Jews was met with deep suspicion in the regional government, which threatened to hit him with huge fines if he put up a monument on village land. But he pushed ahead with support from his family, neighbors and Protestant church, building the monument from metal and concrete in his own yard.
He then called on his three sons -- 12-year-old Anton and 11-year-old twins Viktor and Vitaly -- to build a gravel footpath from the village to the site of the killings, about a kilometer (half mile) away. The boys also laid stones around the monument. "The children would come home and simply collapse from exhaustion," said their mother, Raisa Ilyuchik. "For them it was a difficult history lesson."
Before the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, five Jewish families lived in Bogdanovka, then a village of 1,000 people 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Minsk.
There is no historical record of the Jews or their fate, so Ilyuchik questioned elderly villagers and appealed for information through the local newspaper about the six men who were shot -- two blacksmiths, two farmers, a trader and a rabbi.
They are honored on the monument, a black candle rising from the center of a concrete Star of David. Six red teardrops run down the side like dripping wax.
Their families were rounded up and sent to a ghetto. Ilyuchik was unable to determine whether any of the women or children had survived. But two teenage boys who managed to escape the Nazis were saved by Ilyuchik's grandfather, who hid them in his barn for about six months. They later joined partisan forces fighting with the Red Army, where they became friends with Ilyuchik's father.
"Belarusians and Jews won this victory together," Ilyuchik said.
For support for his project, Ilyuchik turned to his pastor and fellow villagers, about half of whom belong to the same Protestant church. His pastor allowed him to keep the 10 percent of his income he usually gives to the church so he could buy the building materials.
Protestants are a small minority in Belarus. Roman Catholics make up about 15 percent of the population and the overwhelming majority belong to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Ilyuchik's church and Jewish groups offered to collect money for the monument, but he said it was important to him to do it himself.
So far, the regional government has not made good on its threats to fine him, and the monument has become a fixture in the village, where 2,000 people now live.
Children visit the monument on school excursions, and newlyweds come to lay flowers, honoring a Soviet tradition in which brides and grooms visit war memorials on their wedding day.
"When I see flowers on the monument I know that the memory of the murdered Jews is alive," Ilyuchik said, straightening a wreath that someone had left.
Elderly Ukrainians Testify on Holocaust
By Maria Danilova And Randy Herschaft, Associated Press Writers
BOGDANOVKA, Ukraine — From the porch of her mud hut, Vera Filonok saw tens of thousands of Jews shot, thrown in a ravine and set on fire. Many were still alive and they writhed in the flames "like flies and worms."
The memories of what she saw in 1941 have seared her soul for six decades, but until recently she had talked about it with no one except neighbors in her remote Ukrainian village. Then a soft-spoken French priest came to town. Roman Catholic Rev. Patrick Desbois and his small team of investigators have spent six years canvassing the towns and villages of Ukraine to patiently hear elderly people tell of what they saw during those terrible years when they were young.
He says his team has pinpointed more than 600 mass execution sites, about 70 percent of them previously unknown. It has surveyed about a third of Ukraine, he says, and estimates there are at least 2,500 such sites throughout the Texas-sized country.
The work of Desbois and his Yahad-In Unum group is adding important new information to the history of the Holocaust -- a period exhaustively studied in some countries but still veiled in much of the former Soviet Union.
With the Soviet collapse, the declassification of Soviet war archives and the general opening up of this country of 47 million, it has now become possible to speak to the witnesses.
Vital to the effort, says Desbois, is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and its vast Soviet archival material available. That and Desbois' field work have expanded historians' knowledge about the public nature of the killings, the large variety of methods of execution, and the Nazis' forced recruitment of children to assist in their actions.
"You have a marriage of validation with the sources 60 years apart," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. "Using the two sources together one can understand what happened on the ground in those towns and villages in Ukraine."
While the Soviet Union glorified its victory over the Nazis, it refused to acknowledge the massive and systematic killings of Jews. The refusal reflected both anti-Semitism and official resistance to singling out ethnic groups in what was supposed to be a single Soviet nation.
Historians say some 1.4 million of Soviet Ukraine's 2.4 million Jews were executed, starved to death or died of disease during the war. Their remains are strewn around the country in common graves, many of them ignored and unmarked.
The destruction of Ukrainian Jewry is epitomized by Babi Yar, a ravine in the capital Kiev where the Nazis killed about 34,000 Jews during just two days in September 1941. What happened in Bogdanovka was even bloodier -- 48,000 killed. And the perpetrators were not Germans but Romanians and the Ukrainian police they enlisted to help them play their own part in Hitler's genocide.
In 1941, Romanian troops allied with the Nazis occupied a large part of what is now southern Ukraine and began exterminating Jews. Those who survived the initial killings were herded to Bogdanovka and placed in stables and pigsties teeming with fleas and manure.
The massacre began when the Romanians and Ukrainians nailed shut one of the pigsties' doors and windows, then torched it, burning all inside alive. The killing went on for three weeks in late December 1941 and early January 1942 -- with a break for Christmas.
Vera Filonok was 16 when she witnessed the blaze from Konstantinovka, a village lying across the quiet Bug River. "We sensed the smell -- of burning hair, clothes, bones -- a very strong, acrid smell," she said, raising a hand to her wrinkled face. "People were being burned alive. For me that was the most terrifying thing."
After the fire came gunshots, recalled Filonok's neighbor Raya Trofimova. A German soldier living in her family's home lent her his binoculars; through them she saw victims kneel in front of a gully in their underwear, their valuables piled beside them.
"They would line them up before the ravine and shoot them ... they would tear away children from mothers and just throw them in there," said Trofimova, now 85. When her mother returned home that day, Trofimova recalled, she shut the windows and draped them with blankets to shield her three children from the sights and smells.
"Ta-ta-ta," Trofimova mimicked the gunshots ringing out across the river, day and night. "And what could we do? If you protested, you would be taken to the same pit."
Anatoly Veliminchuk was 11. He said he saw people thrown into two wells, many still alive.
"I felt bad, it was painful -- what did it matter that they spoke their Jewish way and we spoke Ukrainian or Moldovan?" he asked as he pointed to what used to be the wells -- now two small pits in a field covered with dry grass and discarded plastic bottles.
Desbois registers an event or killing site only after obtaining three independent witness accounts. His team has two translators, a photographer and cameraman, a ballistics specialist and a mapping expert.
The 52-year-old priest was raised on his grandfather's stories of surviving a Nazi prison camp in Ukraine, and has devoted his career to healing wounds between Catholics and Jews. His group, Yahad-In Unum -- which combines the Hebrew and Latin words for "together" -- was founded by influential Catholics and Jews.
Ukraine's Jewish leaders say the community is grateful for the effort. "What they are doing is holy work, because everybody is forgetting about this tragedy," said Yakov Blaikh, Ukraine's chief rabbi.
The Holocaust is still controversial and divisive in Ukraine because of the wartime collaboration with the Nazis, and the museum nearest to Bogdanovka commemorates those "who saved the motherland," but says nothing about the massacres of Jews.
Anatoly Podolsky, head of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, said Ukraine still needs to more fully confront the Holocaust, but that allowing Desbois to operate here shows that "there is no longer that endless untruthful silence that existed in Soviet Ukraine."
Shattering that silence is Desbois's goal.
At the end of a long day of talking with tearful witnesses, his shoes covered with dust, Desbois said his mission isn't to seek retribution -- "I am not here to judge" -- but to record the tragedy for the sake of its victims.
"God wants these poor people to be finally buried and rest in peace ... and that they receive the Jewish prayer they deserve," he said.
Associated Press Writer Randy Herschaft reported from New York.
ALONG THE ROAD OF DEATH FROM ODESSA TO BOGDANOVKA.
This is preliminary research concerning the so-called open air shootings in the Beresan and Nikolaev districts in Ukraine, where German village police units under SS command, murdered at least 70,000 Jews. The time period is 1941-1943, just before the dissolution of the former German villages within Ukraine.
At the beginning of WWII, Hitler ceded the area between the Bug and the Dniester Rivers, what was called Transnitria, to Romania, for that country’s help in the attack on the Soviet Union.
Although the Romanians had overall, nominal control of Transnitria, some two hundred ethnic German villages within the area fell under the auspices of Himmler’s VoMi, the Volkdeutsche Mittelstelle, an ethnic German liason office, headquartered in the German village of Landau. Drawing upon local manpower, SS police units were then formed in the most prominent German colonies.
During WWII, to ethnically cleanse their country, the Romanians forced the Jews from Bukovina and Bessarabia across the Dniester River; it was a vain attempt to make the occupying German Army in Reichsprotectorate Ukraine, east of the Bug River assume full responsibility for the fate of the Jews.
At roughly the same time, the large Jewish population of Odessa---those not hanged or shot or burned to death in or around the city, which was done by, primarily, Romanian soldiers---was incarcerated in a ghetto, Slobodka, with the survivors later forced into freight cars to Berezovka. From there, various columns of Jews, under Romanian guard, straggled into a roughly triangular area where there were numerous German villages. It was in this area that the Jews were murdered by SS police units, with the corpses often burned in lime
kilns outside those villages.
Police units under SS command, primarily consisting of German colonists from Rastadt, Lichtenfeld, Kartakaevo, Neu Candel, Munchen, Johannestal,and other German villages, murdered, according to various estimates, about 70,000-75,000 Jews.
1. Leonid Dussman, one of 600 survivors from a population of well over two hundred thousand Jews in Odessa: “Don’t be too quick to condemn German villagers. Your people hid and saved many Jews. Without them, none would have survived.”
2. Podoleanca, Ukraine. An elderly lady, an eye-witness, said, “They came this way, along this road, the Jews, the elderly, babies, and pregnant women. The villagers were not allowed to leave their houses at night. My mother, hearing gunshots, held my brother and I close, and the next day moaning sounds were heard, drifting from a nearby field.”
3. Podoleanca, Ukraine. A villager, gesturing to an overgrown well, shows where the bodies of Jews were thrown, and relates how from a haystack in a nearby field, a boy watched as the SS units, most likely police from Rastadt, after forcing Jews remove rings and jewelry; and using rifle butts to knock gold teeth from their mouths, lined up the prisoners---six to eight at a time, back to front---to save bullets. The bodies, covered over with woody hemp plants, were then burnt, with the remains tossed into the well. When police units saw the boy watching, they fired at him, but he escaped, and still lives in the village. This was one of the first massacres of Jews by SS police units from German villages.
4. Gradofka, Ukraine. Location outside of the village of Gradofka, where thousands of Jews were executed, and their bodies burnt. Villagers told of people, even babies, being tossed into the fire, when the executioners ran out of bullets.
5. Gradofka, Ukraine. A ninety three year old eyewitness.
“I was a young woman then. One night in 1941 or 1942, in my home, after I heard gunfire, I hugged my children close, afraid we might also be murdered. That night we saw the fires from the burning bodies.”
6. Gradofka, Ukraine. At least 10,000 Jews were killed and burnt here, near a rail-line, Kolosofka, north of Berezovka. There was a conveyer belt of sorts, as one eyewitness said, with a thousand or more of the Jews brought here at a time over a span of three years, 1941-1943, then murdered and burnt here at the edge of the village.
7. Gradofka, Ukraine. This villager, who was milking cows nearby, told of how his mother took a Jewish baby from its mother, without being seen by the soldiers, raising the child as her own; and the child, his step-sister, now lives in Kiev, Ukraine. The Jews were so exhausted, the villagers said, that none of them tried to escape.
8. Mostove, Ukraine. Once the residence of a Russian nobleman, now a school, this building, along with its outbuildings, and an adjoining park area nearby, was the ghetto for the Jews. The elderly and sick and weak Jews were executed on the grounds around this building.
9. Mostove, Ukraine. When several German trucks arrived, the Jews inside shouted out a warning: “The murderers have come, the heartless ones.” The police unit from Rastadt, a nearby German colony, wearing red arm bands with swastikas, surrounded the building, then took the Jews to be executed. “This is the end,” the Jews screamed in Yiddish.
10. Mostove, Ukraine. The same building. Frantic Jews tried to hide children in nooks and crannies once the Rastadt police unit arrived. Some put babies inside room heaters—the white area within the lower blue wall—hoping the little ones would later be found and saved by someone. The police units from the village of Rastadt forced the Jews from the building, and then took them to the massacre site.
11. Outside Mostove, Ukraine. Massacre site along the rise, mid-photograph. Some tens of thousands of Jews were murdered here.
12. Near Lichtenfeld, Ukraine. A sloping area---once a ravine or balka, which is now plowed over---where the local SS commanders forced ethnic German police from Lichtenfeld to parade past a ditch filled with Jewish corpses, to sanctify it as a swearing in location. Some local SS commanders considered the participation by ethnic Germans in the murder of Jews a matter of honor.
This same police unit murdered 1200 Jews at nearby Suha Verba
13. Sukhie Balka, Ukraine. Massacre pits where the Rastadt police unit shot Jews. One villager told the same story, heard earlier, how the Jews were lined up, back to front, to save bullets. There are bits of human bones, sternum, leg bones, and skull fragments, scattered across the fields here.
14. Sukhie Balka, Ukraine. Massacre pits. My driver, Nikolai, searches for the bullets used in the massacre. Earlier, he found a bullet at Gradofka.
15. Johannestal, Ukraine. (Ivanovka). A villager tells a story she heard about the execution of Jews near the village: when a member of the police unit, who was about to shoot a young Jewish woman from Odessa---“as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven”—; she’d just removed her clothing, and the young man hesitated for an instant, staring.
She stood at the edge of a ravine, as the heat and flames of fires burned behind her. Taking a step in her direction, he lowered his weapon; as she took a step towards him, holding up her hands, as if to embrace his face. Then, suddenly, she pulled him back, tumbling both into the fire.
16. Rastadt, Ukraine. Me, on left, with one of my hosts, Dasha, who now lives in Rastadt, my interpreter Inna, and Dasha’s husband, Sasha. Both grew up in nearby Gradofka. Sasha’s mother, when told of my research on the phone, related a story her son never had heard before: how she had seen as a young girl, many Jews on the road, coming from Kolosofka to Gradofka, “weeping...
17. Rastadt, Ukraine. A cadaver dump, likely one of two sites where the Jews were murdered around Rastadt. Many Jews, held overnight in corrals just off one of the main streets, were murdered the next day. Another massacre site is near a lime kiln on a hill on the opposite side of Rastadt. One of the survivors
in a written account called the village of Rastadt, whose name struck terror in the heart of the Jews, “the beginning of the end,” and the people living there, “blood-sucking cannibals.” The number of Jewish people murdered in Sukhie Balka and Rastadt is about 20,000.
18. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. The end of the Road of Death. The only surviving eyewitness, Ivan, watched from a hiding place as some 54,000 Jews met their sad fate here. Ivan points to where the Jews were lined up along the edge of the ravine, which sloped down to the Bug River, some thirty meters below.
The executioners stood behind, on the opposite side of the road, along the tree line. Evidence from a war crime trial after WWII that indicates that men who had last names common in the German villages of Rastadt and Landau were among the Bogdanovka mass-murderers.
19. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. Where the Jews were forced to undress in an open area, taken in groups of eighty to a hundred, lined up at the ravine, and then shot.
20. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. Building where the Jewish women were taken to be raped, and then murdered soon after that.
21. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. Executioners stood along this tree line, in groups of twenty to twenty five men, shooting the Jews in the back of the head with explosive bullets.
22. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. Along both sides of this road stood barracks that were burnt down, with several thousand Jews inside, who’d refused to leave the buildings for the execution site. The huge mound of ashes was deposited in a local cemetery.
23. Bogdanovka, Ukraine. Where the ravine begins to slope towards the Bug River, not visible here, there is a small monument marking where Jews were murdered.
BY RON VOSSLER
Bogdanovka, Ukraine, Remains of Bodies
1944, Remains of corpses of Soviet citizens
Holocaust Survivor of the Bogdanovka
A holocaust survivor of the Bogdanovka concentration camp wears the Star of David with 'Jude', German for Jew, written on it as she is helped from her wheel chair to lay a wreath during the annual ceremony for Holocaust Martyrsâ and Heroesâ Remembrance Day on May 2, 2011 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial inJerusalem. Israel fell silent for two minutes as the Jewish state paid tribute to the six million victims of the Nazi genocide.
Born in 1925, in Malaia Bogachevka, in the former Soviet Union (now Ukraine), Mariia grew up with her mother, a collective farm worker, and her two sisters. Mariia’s father and one of her sisters died of natural causes before the war. When the war began, Mariia and her sister Betia avoided the first roundups of Jews by hiding in the nearby villages. Betrayed by non-Jewish neighbors, they were arrested by the Ukrainian police and deported to a concentration camp in Domanevka. They later found out that their mother and sister, Udl, were killed during a forced march to Vradievka. Mariia and Betia survived concentration camps in Domanevka and Bogdanovka. They managed to escape from Bogdanovka but never succeeded in their several attempts to flee from Domanevka. The sisters were liberated from the camp in 1944.
"I remember that for Passover my mom would take out special shot glasses from the attic, and on them was written 'Likoved Peysekh' (Happy Passover)." "You know, we didn’t have any tears left. No one cried. No one. So much grief... but no tears, no screams…" "I can’t understand, why do people need wars? Why can’t we live in peace? Why? …If I were in government, I would do everything possible to keep things peaceful…"