Ksenia (b. 1927), was regularly requisitioned for a burial detail after mass executions. After the shootings, she had to put into the pit the bodies of victims who had not fallen in. She said: "Sometimes there were some who were only wounded and begged me to save them, but I could not do anything… "
Yahad – In Unum’s 22nd research trip to Ukraine was a 15-day mission in the region Vinnytsia, along the main road heading toward Dnepopetrovsk.
As of the end of the trip, the team had visited 14 towns and villages, interviewed 52 witnesses, and found 20 mass graves or execution sites. While a large majority of these places now have memorials, the testimony gathered allowed Yahad to find traces of other sites that had been totally forgotten.
Region of Vinnytsia
Investigated towns/villages: Voronovytsia, Kordychivka, Gnivan, Tyvriv, Zaroudyntsi, Raigorod, Bougakiv, Nemyriv, Stryjavka, Tchoukiv, Perepelytche, Breslov, Novosselivka, Lityn
Like previous missions in the west in the Lviv, Ternopil and Khmelnitskyï regions, Yahad investigated the labor camps whose main purpose was the construction of the Durchgangstrasse IV, which was a major highway leading to the Caucasus via Dnepropetrovsk. The German organization Todt was responsible for its construction, and in this context required a large local workforce to perform work in the quarries, transport construction materials, paving the road and maintaining it.
Much of this workforce was Jewish and lived in a network of forced labor camps established along the road. These camps where the Jews were held were often enclosed by a fence and barbed wire, and organized within villages or small towns in an old public building for the most part, such as a school in Zaroudyntsi, a synagogue in Voronovytsia or as in a Jewish neighborhood in Raïgorod.
The workforce in the camps were in places where there were Jews, but sometimes the inhabitants were from surrounding towns or sometimes from much further away, the German organizing deportations according to their needs.
– Although a number of Jews managed to flee before the Germans arrived, as at Breslov, the region of Vinnytsia is one with among the highest number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Ukraine. The region had already suffered greatly from the Great Famine of 1933, under Soviet rule, an experience emphasized repeatedly in the testimony of older witnesses.