Dubrovno (Doubrowna) | Vitebsk

/ Nikolai L., born in 1931: “It was a horrible genocide. They were chased from their houses and gathered here. They did not stay there for long.”  ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum The remaining tombstones at the former Jewish cemetery in Dubrovno. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum The remaining tombstones at the former Jewish cemetery in Dubrovno. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum Maria B., born in 1933: “The Jews pushed the earth aside like this, and then they climbed into the pit, and were shot. There were children too, young children.” ©Jordi Lagoutte/ Yahad - In Unum The place from where Yahad witness n°1040 watched the shooting of Jews along with her three friends.  ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum The Yahad - In Unum team during an interview. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum The execution site of about 2,000 Jews murdered under the German occupation in Dubrovno. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum The execution site of about 2,000 Jews murdered under the German occupation in Dubrovno. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Dubrovno

1 Execution site(s)

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

Witness interview

Maria B., born in 1933: “Y.U.: You said that Jews were shot. Was it at the beginning of the war or closer to the end?
Witness: It was when, you know, Germans were already here. Germans were already standing here… Well, during the war, it was during the war that they were killed.
Interpreter: Just after the Germans arrived, or when they were about to be kicked out?
Witness: No, just after the Germans arrived, they had stayed about half a year, and then they started to kill them.
Y.U.: Was the weather warm or cold?
Witness: Warm, it was summer. It was warm. It was warm, not cold.
Y.U.: Do you know where they were killed?
Witness: There, behind the linen factory, where the memorial stands.
Interpreter: Right where the memorial stands?
Witness: Yes, they were killed right where the memorial stands.
Y.U.: And did you see them being killed?
Witness: We saw it, how to say […]. When they were shot, they… the Germans forced them [… ]. They dug the pit themselves.
Interpreter: What do you mean?
Witness: People, people dug. They dug the pit themselves; and they were shot.
Interpreter: Where were you then?
Witness: We were… you know, little girls. We were running, [saying] “Let’s go and have a look”. Around the factory, the area has been levelled, houses have been built, but back then there was a shrub, there were bushes. Well, we hid behind one of these bushes and sat there. There were people we knew… with whom we used to live… we felt sorry for them.
Y.U.: And when you were watching from these bushes, were you far away from the pit? 10, 20, 100 meters?
Witness: Ah, how to say. Far, further than you see, that garage on the other side of the road, further than that.
Interpreter: About 50, 100 meters?
Witness: No, probably around 50 meters, that’s it. There were three of us. There were birches there, we were sitting by the birches and watching. That is, we couldn’t see well, but when they were shot, one could hear everything. And that’s where they were killed. I left because it was war, and I could’ve been shot myself.” (Witness n°1040, interviewed in Dubrovno, on October 31, 2019)

Soviet archives

“Yes, there were cases when innocent Soviet civilians, residents of Dubrovno, were shot by the German fascist fiends. Altogether, 600 women, children, and old people were shot in the town of Dubrovno. I know, I myself saw the Germans take the peaceful population to a camp that was located in the yard of the Dneprovskaya Manufaktura factory and shoot them. I can name the following among the victims:
1) Mikhel Lapatukhin age 65, his wife, age 67, his daughter Ginda, born in 1932, Bella, born in 1926, Yasha age 7, Girsha age 30.
2) Mera Krupkina, age 50, Yankel, born in 1922, Modya, age 12, Esya, born in 1926, Roza, age 5.
3) [Mr.] Shumyachera, age 55, his wife age 60
4) [Mr.] Shekhtel, a photographer, age 30
5) [Mr.] Levin, a photographer age 40, [Mr.] Minkov, about 40 years old, his wife age 35, their daughter Riva, born in 1926
6) Kopyl Urev, age 45, his daughter Kreyda, born in 1925, Sema age 6,
7) Metr, a doctor, age 35, his daughter age 7. [… ].” [Deposition given by Dmitriy A, a local resident, born in 1923, to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on February 17, 1945; GARF 7021-84-6,p.243-244]

Historical note

Dubrovno is located 86km (53 miles) southeast of Vitebsk. The first records of the Jewish community in the village go back to the mid-16th century. The town had a significant Jewish community that comprised over half of the local population in 1898. In 1801, a Jewish printing house was established in Dubrovno. The local Jews were merchants or were involved in local industry. Many of them, almost half, worked at the weaving factory established in 1902 by the Jewish Colonization Association. It became the center of talitot producing. In the mid-19thcentury, 660 people worked here. At the beginning of the 1930s, the factory had its own newspaper, which was published in both Belarusian and Yiddish. On the eve of the war, 2,119 Jews lived in Dubrovno, comprising 21% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Dubrovno was occupied by the Germans on July 16, 1941. Only a small part of Jews had managed to flee to the East by that time. 

Shortly after the occupation, all the Jews were registered and marked with distinguishing armbands bearing the Star of David. However, they continued to live in their houses until early fall when a ghetto, or camp according to the Soviet archives, was established. During their confinement in the ghetto, the Jews fit to work were forced to carry out physical labor. The first execution was conducted on December 6, 1941. About 1,500 Jews were rounded-up in the ghetto and taken to the linen factory. According to the eyewitnesses to the shootings, the pits were dug on the sandy ground behind the factory by the Jews themselves. After this Aktion, about 300 Jews remained in the ghetto, mainly artisans and their families. They were shot in March 1942 over the course of several individual shootings. According to the archives, in order to hide the traces of the crimes, the bodies were exhumed and burned.

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