Testimony:

"Daria (born in 1929) was detained for a week with thousands of other children in a school at Parichi. Then, she was sent to a camp in Germany, in a forest near the town of Falkenburg. There was a building for boys and another for girls. The children had to greet the camp commander by saying Heil Hitler. During medical examinations, she saw children whose blood was being taken; the pain made them writhe about. The children who died were thrown down into a pit inside the camp ground.

One day, all the children were lined up in the yard for selection. One official palpated her and told her to step forward. She was then placed for some time in a school for Hitler Youth until she was liberated. This case is quite significant in understanding the Germanization process of certain Slavic populations".

 

From June 10-24, 2014, a Yahad-In Unum team completed a seventeenth research visit to Belarus, the first in the region of Moguilev. In the course of this fruitful research trip, during which many aspects were documented thanks to testimonies, the team interviewed 45 people and identified 21 execution sites.

 

Places:

Administrative region of Gomel

Investigated towns and villages: Rudensk, Korma, Chechersk, Repishche, Kanava, Juravichi,Gorodets, Kamenka, Sverjen, Uvarovichi, Dobrush, Vetka, Buda-Kosheliovo, Gomel, Reshitsa, Kovchitsy 2, Vyssoki Polk,Gorbachiovka, Shchedrine, Parichi, Iassen (Stanitsiya), Bolchoia Goroja.

 

Historical Background:

The region was occupied by the Germans in the summer and fall of 1941, and was placed under military administration.

The search for witnesses was sometimes complicated by the fact that major population movements took place both during and after the war, and also later on after the radioactive rains following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

 

Key Findings:

As far as persecutions and the slaughter of Jewish victims are concerned, the ghettoes that were created were not ordinary ones, i.e. closed streets or neighborhoods. In this area, the team frequently found ghettoes that had been located in pre-existing buildings. It seems that the occupational authorities were forced to improvise because the front was not far away.

During field investigations, the team came across a number of early shootings carried out during the winter of 1941-1942, when the soil was frozen and there was often a lot of snow. The fact that the front was so close is a credible explanation for precipitated acts of genocide. To carry out their job, the executioners often used pre-existing pits, like silos and antitank ditches. But the cold weather and frozen earth often created problems and prevented the pits from being efficiently filled up.

The team also collected several testimonies on villages in Belarus that were burnt in the course of operations against the partisans, as well as on the killings of rural civilians.

One recurrent story in the area of Bobruisk also was children who were rounded up. They were sent to special camps for children where their blood was taken for German hospitals. Some of them were also selected for Germanization. There remain numerous witnesses to these events. This story has hardly been documented from a historical perspective, which suggests how important it is to collect testimonies of such practices.

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