Chernavchitsy (Čarnaŭčycy) | Brest

/ The Yahad team with a witness during an interview. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Arkadii R., born in 1923: “The men were shot in the swamps on a sort of island, in a pit dug by local people from Malaia Turna. I saw two trucks full of people being taken to the site.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Arkadii R., born in 1923 ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Anna V., born in 1930: “I saw a shooting of nine Jewish men and one catholic. Before the shooting, they were forced to undress." ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Vera Z, born in 1920: “The Jews took nothing with them. Only a few things, a pillow, for example, for the children. All their things were left here.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Arkadii R., born in 1923, took the Yahad team to the execution site of women and children located outside Chernavchitsy.     ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Near the execution site, called Dichka, where women, children and elderly people, and some men were murdered during several murder operations. One of the largest took place in October 1943. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Chernavchitsy

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Fields known as "Dichka"
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 500

Witness interview

Vera Z., born in 1920: "When I was on my way back after delivering milk, I saw [the Germans] leading the richest Jews away, the ones who had the most money. Dogs like this (witness shows height of the dogs) were jumping on them. They [the Germans] put them [the Jews] in a truck, hit them with their truncheons and tortured them. They [the Germans] loaded twenty or more people [into the truck]. Then they took them away."(Witness n°144B, interviewed in Chernavchitsy, on April 10, 2009)

Soviet archives

"I lived in Chernavchitsy. Around October 1943, R., the soltys [headman] of Chernavchitsy, came up to me, informed me that I had been assigned a job, and told me to bring along a shovel. I was one of a team of twelve workers assembled and taken beyond Chernavchits, in the direction of the Kamenetskoie road, to a place in the fields known as "Dichka". This soltys, R., ordered us to dig a pit 6 meters long, 3 meters wide, and 2 meters deep. We set to our task. Sometime later, a car arrived and stopped next to us. Some Gestapo Germans with armbands, accompanied by an interpreter, a Volksdeutche, got out of the car. They asked us how soon our job would be done. When we told them that it would take some time, since the soil was rocky, they informed us via the interpreter that we had only an hour and a half to finish the job, and that, if we were not done by then, we would be shot in the pit. Therefore, we started working as hard as we could. Exactly an hour and a half later, a tractor with a large deck arrived. It was loaded with Jewish women, with one child – a boy of 7-8 years – among them. The tractor was followed by that same car, with those same Germans in it. They ordered all the women to strip naked, and even took something out of their hair. They tossed all the clothes, underwear, and everything else into a pile. In the corner of the pit, there was a slope. The Germans, those from the Volga region, ordered the women (in Russian) to lie down with their feet toward the walls of the pit and their heads toward its center, forming regular rows. This way, everybody went along quietly, and the submachine gunners carried out the order of that beast – that scoundrel. From above, two Gestapo men shot them calmly, changing the cartridges. The mother, holding the child by the hand, went into the grave together with the others. Thus, everyone was shot, and the squad of approximately five policemen who had surrounded the grave during the shooting left the area. The Germans stayed next to the pit, while we, the twelve of us, were lying in another small pit about fifteen meters from there. The Germans were sitting near the pit, smoking, and laughing about something. One of us could not bear watching this horrible scene of brutality and atrocity and the serenity of these beasts. That person walked about 200 meters away, lay face down on the ground, and wept. Half an hour later, the tractor returned. This time, there were about seven men on it, as well as women. Some of the men were residents of Chernavchitsy: Goldberg, I do not remember his first name; Iudel Iierusalimskii, and Leizer Tyshlik. This group was shot in the same way, and the last three men were forced to load the clothes of their murdered peers onto the deck and add their own clothes to the pile. They were then shot. The last victim, Iierusalimskiy, closed his eyes and jumped into the pit. He was shot together with the others, but he [his body] did not lie in the proper way, and one of the Gestapo men who had not taken part in the shooting shouted in Russian that everybody must lie down properly. When the horrible slaughter of the innocents was over, the Germans called us over and ordered us to cover the pit, so that nobody would notice. We complied. Altogether, at least 120 people were shot.… The Jews whom I saw being shot had lived in the Chernavchitsy "Jewish ghetto" and worked in road construction since 1942. They were the Jews from Domachevo. Furthermore, I know that, in 1942, 60 Jewish men were taken from Chernavchitsy to a field not far from the spot where we dug the pit and were also shot." [Deposition of a local villager Konstantin T., born in 1903, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK); RG-22.002M/GARF7021-83-11]

Historical note

Chernavchitsy is located 16 km (10mi) north of Brest. The first Jewish community was established in the first half of the 17th century. Previously part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in 1795, the village was joined to the Russian Empire. From 1918 until the Second World War, Chernavchitsy was within the borders of the second Polish Republic. From September 1939 until June 22, 1941, the village was under Soviet rule. In 1875, 175 Jews lived in Chernavchitsy, making up 29% of the total population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade and handicraft. On the eve of the war, 428 Jews remained in the village, comprising 57% of the total population. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Chernavchitsy was occupied by the Germans in late June 1941. The Jews of Chernavchitsy – and, according to some sources, those of Domachevo, as well – were imprisoned in a ghetto and forced to work building roads. In late September 1942, the first group of 300-350 local Jews were sent to the Volchin Ghetto, where they were murdered alongside local Jews. In 1942, approximately 200 Jewish men from the Chernavchitsy ghetto were shot near the village of Malaia Turna. Two additional groups of Jews - mostly women, but also a few men - were murdered that year and the following one in the fields, knowing as “Dichka”. The largest murder operation took place in October 1943, when the surviving Jewish ghetto inmates were taken to the shooting site ‘Dichka’ on a tractor with a deck. Prior to the shooting, the victims were forced to strip naked. Then they were forced to climb inside the pit and lie down facing the ground in rows. 

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