Our team met Dmytro (born in 1928). He was interviewed 100 meters from the site of one of the shootings he saw and which took place behind one of the kolkhoz buildings. Dmytro can still see the German death squad coming up by truck at dawn during the winter of 1942-1943. Then he recalls a chilling scene when a German officer, holding a gun in his hand, walked behind Jews who were lined up at the edge of a pit and shot them with a bullet behind their neck. Between each group, he was smoking a cigarette and he was getting drunk with schnaps. Afterwards, upon an order from the Starost, Dmytro was requisitioned to carry the clothing of the victims on his cart to the Gaisin kommandantur.
A Yahad In Unum completed their 26th investigative trip to Ukraine. This 13 day mission took place in the regions of Vinnytsia and Tcherkassy. During this mission, our team found and interviewed 49 witnesses and located 12 sites of extermination of Jews. Two-thirds of these sites do not have a memorial.
Administrative regions of Vinnytsia and Tcherkassy
Investigated towns/villages: Tuchin,Aleksandria, Varkovyshi, Goryngrad premier, Choubkiv, Kozin, Granovka, Verba, Rovno, Dyven, Veliki Mezirichi, Korchevie, Derazhnoie, Klevan, Goshcha
During the trip, the team led investigations in different localities, most of which being villages or small towns where labor camps had been settled in order to receive a Jewish labor force. More often than not, our team found out in these localities the trace of camps of Soviet POWs who also worked on the DG IV construction site.
– Like the previous missions led along the former DG IV in the same region, we found the same characteristics concerning the dire fate of the Jews – men, women and children alike, forced to work on the different sites along the road.
– In most of the cases, there was not, originally, a substantial local Jewish population in the visited locations. The Jews who were shut in the camps generally came from the surrounding cities.
– When the war broke out, Mikhailvka was a small village, ethnically Ukrainian and located next to the DG IV. At the beginning of the occupation, young local Ukrainians worked mostly on the section of the road passing along the village. But in 1942, they were sent to Germany to work. From that summer on, a Jewish workforce from Ukraine and Romania was brought over. At the beginning, the Jews were shut in two stables of the kolkhoz. Jews were regularly selected and shot in a pit in the forest. When winter came, the Jews were transferred to the village school – their conditions of detention became, so to speak, more comfortable – they slept on bunk beds instead of straw. In 1943, the camp was attacked by partisans, yet most of the Jews refused to leave. Afterwards, they were transferred to the Tarassivka camp.
– Thanks to the help of the inhabitants, the Yahad team found an exceptional witness of the events of Mikhailovka.