Bohuslav (Boguslav) | Kyiv

Jewish self-defense militia in Bohuslav, 1920. ©Taken from Former synagogue of Bohuslav, in 1930. ©Taken from Students of a Jewish school of Bohuslav, 1923. ©Taken from / Halyna I., born in 1932 : "They brought the party members and lined them up in front of the grave. They gave out a tra-ta-ta with their machine guns and they fell, all of them, those who were killed, those who were wounded and those unscathed."©LesKasyano The Bohuslav Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Bohuslav Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The former synagogue of Bohuslav. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Bohuslav Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Milana I., born in 1926: "The Jews couldn’t leave the ghetto. They stayed there all summer. In autumn, at the beginning of September, they were shot in a field near Tunyky."©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad-In Unum team on their way to the execution site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unu Halyna I., born in 1932: "The Jews and the shooters had their backs turned to us. We were up the hill, watching. And here was a place with a swing. We would swing here."©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Execution site of the communists. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Execution site of the Bohuslav Jews. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Aerial view of the forest currently covering the execution sites. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews and communists in Bohuslav

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Circa 370

Witness interview

Halyna I., born in 1932: "We couldn’t get close to the grave, we weren’t allowed. We watched them being shot from a distance. A lot of Jews were killed there, even those three girls that cried out so wholeheartedly that they wanted to live. The Germans shot them with a small weapon. They killed the first, the second and the third girl. And there was one German who just couldn’t bring himself do it. His superior was telling him to shoot. He was crying. Then his supervisor hit him in the face. Some bodies were already in the grave, but we did not see them being shot. Sometimes there would be more than two or three people executed. The Germans would shoot as many as they could." (Witness n°2951U, interviewed in Tunyky on September 1, 2021)

Historical note

Bohuslav is a town located in the Kyiv region, in the center of Ukraine, about 100 km (62mi) south of the capital. The city was founded in the early 11th century. The first traces of a local Jewish community date back to the end of the 16th century. In its early period, the community was the target of many pogroms, in 1648, 1702 and 1768. Nevertheless, this did not stop it from growing, and by 1784, it had grown to 622 individuals. In the middle of the 17th century, a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery were built. In 1793, the region became part of the Russian Empire, and the community expanded further, reaching 1,288 people in 1797. In the 19th century, the Jewish community had a main synagogue, 15 secondary prayer houses, two cemeteries, a cloth factory, a distillery, and a printing press. Local Jews were merchants or artisans, such as shoemakers, weavers, tailors, furriers, and carpenters. At the end of the 20th century, 80% of the houses in the center of the city were owned by Jews. In 1897, there were 7,745 Jews, or 65% of the total population. At the beginning of the 20th century, the community was in full economic and cultural expansion. It had three colleges for men, three colleges for women, two elementary schools, a hospital, an orphanage, and a structure to help the poor. Many Jews were employed in the textile industry and in other types of factories in the area. By 1910, they numbered 14,236, or 72% of the total population.  Between 1918 and 1920, during the Russian Civil War, the local Jewish community was the victim of pogroms resulting in the deaths of over 50 Jews, with many more being injured. Hundreds of Jewish buildings, including synagogues, houses, stores and warehouses were burned down. In January 1920, a Jewish self-defense militia with circa. 1,000 members was set up. At the same time, the city received nearly 15,000 Jewish refugees from the surrounding areas fleeing the violence. The violence increased the popularity of the Zionist movement in the region. By 1926, the local Jewish population had decreased to 6,432, or 53% of the total population. In 1939, only 2,230 Jews lived in Bohuslav. This considerable decline in the Jewish population was mainly due to the migration of Jews to other regions.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On June 22, 1941, the German army and their allies began their invasion of the USSR. Many Jews fled to the east, while those eligible for military service were drafted into or volunteered for the Red Army. Bohuslav was occupied on July 26. Only 15% of the local Jewish population remained. The first two days of the occupation were marked by a pogrom during which several dozen Jews were killed. During the summer and autumn of 1941, the city was ruled by the German military administration, which set up a municipal council and an auxiliary police force recruited from among the inhabitants. It also ordered the creation of a Jewish council (Judenrat), the registration of all local Jews, the mandatory wearing of a distinctive armband, and participation in forced labor. In August 1941, 45 people accused of being Soviet militants, including some Jews, were arrested and shot. On August 15 and 20, the authorities ordered that all Jews be relocated to a district of the city on Provalnaya Street. This open ghetto was liquidated one month later, on September 15, when a detachment of the Einsatzkommando 5 shot 322 Jews in a field bordering the city. The local commander reported to Berlin that there were no Jews left in Bohuslav. During the next few days of the occupation, the Germans caught and executed those Jews who had tried to hide and survive. At the same time, a few Jewish skilled workers were kept alive and executed in July 1943. After the war the bodies of the victims were exhumed, identified, and reburied in the Jewish cemetery.

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