Testimony:

An old woman remembered seeing her best friend walking in line toward the mass grave without understanding what would happen to her. It was only at the end of the day that she realised she was dead: she saw a policeman dragging "Jewish clothes" among which she recognises the socks her own mother had made for her friend and that she gave to her during the ghetto times.

 

The investigation took place from May, 19th to June the 1st of 2008 and covered the region of Kamenets-Podolski. We interviewed 62 witnesses who mainly testified for the first time about what they saw related to the mass murders of the Jews living in this area.

 

Places:

Kamenets-Podolski Region

 

Historical Background:

Most of the interviews depicted precisely the shooting process : for instance, in Staro-Konstantinov, where almost 16 000 Jews were killed, we learned that they were forced to take off their clothes 200 meters far from the site of execution and then had to run, by groups of one or two hundred people, to the edge of the mass grave where shooters were awaiting them. Many witnesses remembered that during the winter season some Jews begged for death to come because of the pain due to cold they were suffering from. We discovered that many shootings concerning a few people have taken place here and that nobody heard from them until we asked the local people during this research travel. Near Yarmolintsi, the town of Tomashovka revealed also a "working camp" never mentionned anywhere: it consisted in a lake digged by jewish women and young children, some of them were brought there on foot, the others detained in the stables. At the end of the construction, all were killed in the barracks.

 

Key Findings:

The two large inquiries we have held in the main cities of this region (Kmelnitski and Kamenets-Podolski) turned out to underline the fact that many of local people agreed to talk to us, as oppposed to what happened in the Lvov region.This trip enabled us to improve our investigation methods by adapting them to the local situation and historicity. Therefore, it gives more complexity to the history of what happened to the Jews living in this region and widens our understanding of the killing process. Thereby, we could specify how the Germans used the preexisting coercitive soviet system: role of the staroste appointed by the occupants, role of the brigadirs in the requisitioning process. Moreover, we could see that Germans often used the existing buildings: churches, stables, barracks.

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