“A German was sitting on a chair in front of a table, approximately ten meters away from the pit. Another German placed the undressed Jews on the edge of the pit. The first German shot them with his machine gun, then laid it down on his lap so as to have a drink of strong liquor and eat what was on the plates on the table. He practically never stood up – only to reach the edge of the pit and finish off with a pistol the Jews who had not died yet.” – Ivan P. (born 1929)
During fourteen days of investigation in Ukraine, the Yahad-in-Unum team conducted investigations in 23 towns and villages in the region of Volhynie. The research was principally focused on the region’s northwest area. The goal of this investigation was to continue Yahad’s previous research in the area, which had exposed a high number of mass shootings.
In the course of this investigative mission, the Yahad-in-Unum team identified 31 mass grave sites, half of which have no memorial, thus remaining totally unacknowledged, and interviewed 49 witnesses.
Region of Volhynie
Investigated towns/villages:Lukiv, Okunin, Birki, Vychnivka, Golovne, Chatsk, Cherevakha, Manevichi, Povorsk, Melnitsa, Ustilug, Piatydni, Touriisk, Sushybaba, Ozeriany, Toikut, Rojyshche, Chetvertnia, Kolki, Lokachi, Piatykory, Horodyshche, Hirka Polanka.
– The scarcity of sources, in German archives as well as in the report of the Extraordinary Soviet Commission;
– The direct proximity of witnesses to the shooting sites, with detailed stories of the events;
– The broad use of the Sardinenpackung method in the investigated part of the region.
– Several characteristics are to be noted concerning the executioners’ behavior during the shootings in the area under investigation. One was the frequent presence of photographers during the killings. Those Nazis stood on the edge of the pit and took pictures with either cameras on stands or hand-held ones.
Sometimes a table and a chair were set up near the edge of the pits. The executioners would eat and drink during breaks while the Jewish victims undressed and lay down at the bottom of the pit. Several witnesses said they saw soldiers shooting their victims without even standing up from their seats. Another German remained close to the one doing the shooting, with a fresh magazine ready to reload his gun when needed.
– The Yahad-in-Unum team’s inquiry in the village of Piatykory let to the identification of the shooting site of nomadic Roma. The place had not been marked out and still has no memorial today.