One day, I saw Jews walking on the road from Tatarbunary to Dmitrivka. There were men, and women carrying children in their arms. The Romanians hit them with shovels. They even struck at the babies. The execution took place in the afternoon, close to 6th Street. They were shot in the trenches – today it’s a field. The babies were thrown into the pit. When the Jews came up to the pit, they were told to get down into it, to kneel down and to pray. Then they were killed. They were two or three military policemen shooting at them […]. – Stepanida G. (born 1927)
From July 31st to August 15, 2013, a Yahad-In Unum team went to Ukraine for a 33rd investigation, the fourth in the region of Odessa. In the course of this investigative trip, the Yahad team interviewed 54 witnesses, and identified 15 shooting sites, most of which did not have a memorial.
Region of Odessa
Investigated towns/villages: Tatarburnary, Dimitrovka, Kamianske, Tarutino, Berezino, Vilkovo, Kilia, Tabaky, Bolgrad, Berezovka, Jovten, Mikhaylo-Alexandrivka, Tchiervono-Volodimerovka, Kotovskoye, Novo-Grigorievka, Soukhaya Verba, Mikhaylo-Alexandrivka, Vesselinovka,Novo-Petrivka, Ambarovo,Antonyuki, Novo-Pokrovka, Dvorianka, Koudriavka, Yasnopol, Berezivka, Sofiivka, Gouliaïevka, Otradna Balka, Chigirin, Oleksandrodar, Kochtovo.
1. The former oblast of Ismail
Independent from historic Transnistria, this area underwent drastic changes as it was successively under Romanian then Russian-Soviet control between 1941 and 1944. Another important factor is the number and variety of ethnic groups.
The execution of Jews at Dmitrivka, near Tatarburnary, was a major event in this area. According to the Extraordinary Soviet Commission, the main execution (up to 400 Jewish victims) took place between September and November 1941 to the north of Dmitrivka, approximately 400 yards from the village, in the military trenches of the so-called “7th Street.”
The village had always been inhabited by Bulgarians, which made it a real challenge for the team to find witnesses. Elderly people could understand nothing but Bulgarian.
2. The district of Berezovka
Concerning the district of Berezovka, Jews who lived in and around Odessa were killed in early November 1941. The Romanians sent all the Jews to the North, on roads between the villages. Sometimes they were detained for a few days in barns, henhouses or stables, and sometimes for one or up to three months in the fall and summer of 1941. The testimonies recorded by Yahad recount Jews reaching a village and bartering with the local population, for example jewels in exchange for food. Finally, a commando assisted by Volksdeutsche (local Germans) would execute the Jews with the help of Ukrainian military policemen in a ravine, a natural hollow or a pit dug-out for that purpose.
– With the help of bilingual youth, the Yahad team managed to find six witnesses of the execution of Jews at Dmitrivka.
– Thanks to Yahad investigators, witnesses have been found for virtually all shooting sites in Berezovka. Most witnesses were able not only to identify the locations and proceedings, but also the places where the Jews were held before they were executed.