The poisoning of Jewish babies is recurrent in our witnesses’ stories. Aleksei (born 1934) of Lisnivka recalled every detail of the execution of Jewish colonists. The Jews were gathered in the club building. The trucks drove up and they were loaded in groups on those trucks. But when there were babies among the Jews who came out, there was a man ready with a metallic bowl and a brush by the truck’s side. “It was a metallic bowl about eight inches high. When a mother holding a baby in her arms came near the truck, this man expertly stroked his brush twice under the child’s nose and the latter immediately stopped crying.”
In the course of this research mission, the Yahad-In Unum team identified twenty mass graves, nearly 55% of which have no memorial and therefore totally obliterated, and interviewed forty-six witnesses.
Region of Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Investigated towns/villages: Nevoklenove, Biloguirsk, Oleksandrivka, Nijnioguirsk, Sovetskiï, Azovske, Pshenichne, Shyroke, Petrovka, Djankoi, Koroleve, Ostanin, Kransoguirka, Novokrimske, Adjimoushkaï, Fontane, Staryi Krym, Ievpatoria, Lisnivka, Saki, Vorobievo, Orlovka, Serebrianka, Shishkine, Dolin, Furmanovka, Bakhchissarai, Trudove, Krasnoe, SevastopolSevastopol, Inkerman.
Historical Background of Crimea
According to the archives, the population of Crimea in 1939 was approximately 700,000, including 68,000 Jews and Krymchak. Before the German occupation in November 1941, some 200,000 inhabitants managed to evacuate, including about 34,000 Jews and Krymchak.
During the occupation, Crimea was under German military administration, and the extermination of Jewish, Krymchak and Gipsy populations was carried out with the determined support of the Wehrmacht’s soldiers.
Yahad-In Unum research in Crimea was conducted in a complex context, as most of the people who had been evacuated did not come back and ethnic minorities like Tatars, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians and Volksdeutsche were deported either before the Germans arrived or in 1944, and only partially came back to Crimea in the 1960s. As a result, our team was confronted with towns and villages whose inhabitants had come from Western Ukraine, from Kursk, Rostov or Smolensk in Russia, and even Ukrainians removed from Poland after the redefinition of their borders.
The Yahad team’s investigations in this part of Ukraine are characterized by the following features:
– The large number of victims on each execution site;
– Multiculturalism and ethnic diversity in pre-war and contemporary Crimea, as well as the different German attitudes depending on the ethnic group;
– Evacuations before the Germans arrived and important population movements in the peninsula after the war make it difficult to find witnesses still living in the same locations;
– Research focused on the various aspects of the war in Crimea: the shootings of Jews in towns and Jewish colonies, the kolkhozes spared by the Germans, and the persecution of other groups of victims.