Cherniany (Chernyany) | Brest

/ The Yahad team at the execution site of the Cherniany Jews. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Bullet casings found at the execution site during field research. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum The location of the mass graves where the Cherniany Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the war. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Aleksandra K., born in 1923: "The shootings must have been conducted in the spring or summer of 1942 by a special punitive unit that came from Malorita. When the unit left after the execution, they burned several villages on their way.". ©Nicolas Tkatchou Aleksandra K., born in 1923. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Ekaterina S., born in 1929: “That road existed back then. The shooters even fired from the road. The shooting lasted for a while. They fired with machine guns.”©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Cherniany

2 Execution site(s)

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

Witness interview

Aleksandra K., born in 1923: "The Jews were allowed to stay in their homes for a year. They had nice houses, well decorated. After a year, the richest Jews were taken to the camp at Divin, while the others were taken to be shot. The men were the first one to be taken away. They were forced to dig two pits. In one pit they killed the men, while the women and children were killed in another pit. The shootings must have been conducted in the spring or summer of 1942 by a special punitive unit that came from Malorita. When the unit left after the execution, they burned several villages on their way." (Witness n°122B, interviewed in Cherniany, on April 4, 2009)

Soviet archives

"The unit’s commander or, as it was called, "the company commander" was a captain (Hauptman), I do not know his name. This squadron consisted of 380 men that included Ukrainians. These Ukrainians were part of a group of nationalists led by a local landowner, Colonel Markovsky. This colonel, whose property was 8 km from Malorita, was at the same time the head of the district, i.e. he was the head of the whole civil administration and the local police. The Ukrainians wore the same uniform as the gendarmes of the "Nuremberg" company. In the "Nuremberg" company, there were about 100 Ukrainians from Markovsky. In order to carry out the execution, the German command in Malorita summoned policemen from the neighboring districts who were devoted to it and who ensured the security in Malorita during all that time. Neither these policemen nor the local policemen participated personally in the execution.
A German, Major Rose, came to Malorita for the execution, he was the head of the Gestapo and SD death squads at Volhynia and Podolia. His headquarters were in Lutsk. This Major Rose was in Malorita during the execution. Whether he was present or not, I do not know. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to meet Major Rose in several villages where he had organized the execution of local people, in which he personally participated. Afterwards, in 1943, the major was shot by the partisans in the Cherniany area (Kobrin district)." [Deposition of Vladimir K., born in 1919, the Red Army Lieutenant, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (GARF) in 1945; GARF 7021-83-20/Copy USHMM RG22-002M]

Historical note

Cherniany is a village located 50 km (31 mi) southeast of Brest and 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Baranovichi. Lesnaia is a village situated about 30 km (19mi) southwest of Baranovichi. The first records of the Jewish community date back to mid-17th century. In 1921, the town was included in the territory of the Second Polish Republic, and in September 1939 took over by the Soviets as a result of the Molotov Ribbentrop agreement. The Jewish community of Cherniany was small. The region’s Jews mainly lived in Baranovichi. They mainly lived off trade and handicraft. Circa. 100 Jews, including a number of refugees from western Poland, lived in the village before the war. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Cherniany was occupied by German forces in early July 1941. There was no ghetto in Cherniany, the Jews continued to live in their homes until late spring or summer 1942.  On the day of the shooting, the men were separated from the women and children, and taken to the field outside the village to dig the pits. They were killed in the first pit, while the women, children, and elderly people were killed later in the other two. According to oral accounts, the victims were shot fully dressed on the edge of the pits.

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