Aleksandrovka | Smolensk

/ Sergey G., born in 1933, is a Sedentary Roma. His mother, his younger brother and him managed to survive the war, because they weren’t mentioned as Roma in the official lists provided to the Germans. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum Yulia P.:“ The execution as conducted by the SS soldiers who arrived for this purpose. However, there were others Germans in the village that stationed here on regular bases.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum Nina K., born in 1933: “Many Roma lived here before the war. Actually, they were the majority. There was a kolkhoz and they all worked here. They did the farm works. There was a Roma school. All children went to the same school. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-I A Roma school used to be located at this place. The building was burned down by Germans during the occupation. Today, it is a private property. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum The place near the lake where all residents of Aleksadnrovka were gathered at dawn prior to the execution. One the Gypsies were separated from the Russians, they were taken to the shooting. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum Irina N., born in 1941, Sedentary Roma: “With my mother I was taken to the execution site, but my mother managed to survive. She was released as she had blond hair and didn’t look like a Gypsy.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum Sergey G., born in 1933, showing to Yahad’s team the place where the villagers were gathered by the SS soldiers ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum Sergey G., born in 1933: “After the selection, the Russians were released home and the Roma were taken to the execution. Once, there they had to undress completely and driven to the pit. They were shot in groups. The small children were thrown into the pi The monument located on the local orthodox cemetery in the memory of 176 Soviet Roma who were murdered by Germans in Aleksandrovka. © Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Soviet Roma in Aleksandrovka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Yulia P. evokes: “The German field kitchen was installed in our yard and some Germans stayed with us. They were the soldiers who arrived from Smolensk to take a rest from the battles. They didn’t ask us the permission; they just came and said that there would be a kitchen in our yard. But as I think about it today, I can say that it might have saved our lives. Because on the day when the Gypsies were shot, the SS soldiers came to our house as well. They wanted to take us for the general gathering near the lake. But, the Germans who stayed at our house said that we were Russians and we could stay at home. I know that the majority of Roma people were shot this day.” (Testimony n°61, interviewed on December 2, 2009 in Aleksandrovka)

Soviet archives

“Even though I showed my papers, the German officer didn’t believe that I was Russian and he didn’t want to let me go. At the end, at about 3pm the pit had been dug and all Gypsies were taken to the barn located close to the pit. All the territory was cordoned off by German soldiers. The Germans took the Gypsies to the barn as they were cattle. Those who refused to move forward were beaten and pulled by force into the barn. The shooting started at 3pm. At least 70 Gypsies, including women, children and elder people were shot on my eyes. […] Before being killed the Gypsies were forced to undress. Some kept the underwear and others had to stay completely naked. Then, they were taken from the barn to the pit located 20-30m away. They were taken to the pit in families. The shooting was conducted by one German soldier who fired with a gun.” [Deposition of a local resident, Lidia K., given to the State extraordinary commission on October 10, 1943; RG-22.002M: 7021-44/1091]

Historical note

Aleksandrovka is a village, located 8 km north of Smolensk. The first records about the Roma in the Smolensk region go back to the 19th century. In 1937, a kolkhoz “The Stalin Constitution” was established in the village to settle down the Roma nomadic people from the Smolensk region, who weren’t able to be integrated into the October farm due to lack of the land. The majority of the population was Roma. There was a Romani school. The village was occupied by Germans in summer 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Roma could continue living in their houses until they were executed on April 24, 1942. The execution was conducted by SS Einsatzgruppe B. On the night before the execution, the village was cordoned off and all the residents, including the Roma from the nearing village of Devkino, were gathered at the place close to the lake. After a selection, which was made according to the lists provided by local administration, the Roma people were driven to the execution, located in the woods, and the Russians were released. Once on the site, the men were separated from the women and children and were shot the first. Prior to be shot, all Roma were forced to undress inside the barn, located 20-30m away. According to the archives and local witnesses, the small children were thrown in the pit alive. Some women and children managed to released claiming being Russians, as they had light hair and skin.

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