At Iarun in 1941, the Jews were briefly detained in a ghetto monitored by local policemen. Just before they were shot, those Jews were crammed into the club building. Olena (born 1927) was working on a field by the riverside when she saw a column of some fifty people coming up the other bank of the river. A pit had been dug out there long beforehand. The column was escorted by policemen and a cart followed, carrying old people and the Jews’ possessions. The Jews were made to stand on the three sides of the pit, in a horse-shoe-shaped line, and killed by the policemen with machine guns.
When she came back to the shooting site with the Yahad team, Olena said she remembered seeing her friend Zenio in that column. When she reached the monument, she muttered movingly: “I came back to visit you, Zenio.”
From April 18 to May 4, 2013, a Yahad in Unum team completed our thirty-fifth research visit to Ukraine, in the region of Jytomyr. In the course of this visit, the Yahad team interviewed forty-five witnesses.
Administrative region of Jytomyr
Lavkovichi, Slovechne, Sorokopen, Ovroutch, Gladkovichi, Meleni, Chopovichi, Ouchomir, Varvarivka, Iurové, Korosten, Barashi, Emilchine, Serby, Kazak, Sukhavol, Iarun, Rogachiv, Kolodianka, Baranovka, Iossipivka, Dubrivka, Pershotravensk, Poninka, Kalinivka, Povchyno, Sosnove, Gorodnitsa, Kamiany Brid.
The region investigated by the Yahad team was quickly occupied by the Germans, as early as the fall of 1941. Before the Germans arrived, numerous Jews were evacuated.
In the north of the region, where there are many forests, shootings started rather early. In the South, there were more Jewish communities and more victims. Contrary to what happened in the North, ghettoes were sometimes established, there were selections of victims and the shootings took place over a longer span of time. During this visit, the research team found a great number of direct witnesses of the shootings.
The Yahad team’s investigations in this part of Ukraine are characterized by the following features:
– In several cases, the executions did not take place in isolated places with no one to watch. Instead, the killings were public events.
– Most of the shootings took place early on, sometimes as soon as the Germans arrived or after a few weeks, knowing that the most able-bodied Jews had fled before the occupiers arrived.
– It should be noted that thought generally monuments are located where the major shootings took place, several sites of less massive executions have been completely forgotten.