Lidia witnessed several mass executions in Rostov, in the Smiovska ravine. She was not yet seven years old at the time. The Germans entered her house and other houses close to the ravine, and proceeded to brutally herd the families, the children included, to force them to watch the executions. The families stood surrounded by guards on one side of the ravine. There were German policemen with dogs and automatic guns behind them.
Lidia could see people climbing down from a truck. They were led to the edge of the ravine. The victims faced the villagers. They were shot from behind with machine-guns. The bodies fell down as gunfire burst out. Then another group of victims showed up. This was not an isolated event. The Germans did the same thing for the next shooting: they dragged the frightened local population to the scene. Lidia then began to choke up and could tell no more.
From September 22 to October 8, 2011 Yahad In Unum completed a fifth investigation in Russia, the first one in the region of Rostov. This was a genuine challenge given the scarcity of archive documents concerning this region. Each piece of information that is collected is therefore a step forward to study the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis in southern Russia.
Over the course of this trip, Yahad identified 14 shooting sites, most of which have no memorial, and interviewed 48 witnesses.
Region of Rostov
Investigated towns/villages: Rostov on the Don, Kagalnitskaia, Mechetinskaia, Zernograd, Aleksandrovka, Chakhty, Kamenolomni, Iegorlyskaia, Novoragovskaia, Proletarsk, Apionki, Salsk, and Kirvovkaia.
The proximity of the war front was mentioned in every testimony. Long convoys of Ukrainian and Polish refugees, including many Jews, journeyed across this area as they fled the Germans’ progress. During the Nazi occupation, there were German soldiers everywhere: each village apparently accommodated a number of Wehrmacht men, who were resting before they went back to the front.
Although the German occupation in this area was relatively short (less than a year, except in the area of Taganrog), Yahad found traces of numerous crimes whose victims were Jews, but also civilians and Soviet war prisoners.
– The shootings in Rostov
– The shootings of Jewish refugees
– The use of gas trucks