Dzerzhinsk | Minsk

/ Fiodor C. remembers seeing the open trucks arriving with Jews standing in the back. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Fiodor C. remembers that there were stairs going down to the pits. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Tamara R. remembers seeing the pit for the Dzerzhinsk Jews prior to the shooting. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Valentina M. remembers the Jews from Dzerzhinsk falling down in the pit after being shot. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Vera F. remembers seeing the Jews from the Minsk ghetto getting off the freight train at the station, to then go to the shooting site. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum The mass shooting site of the Minsk ghetto Jews. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Dzerzhinsk

2 Execution site(s)

Investigated by Yahad:
Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:

Witness interview

Valentina M.: "I was with the other children when I heard shooting. I saw it from a distance, there were men, women, children. The second shooting took place at the same site." (Witness N° 439, interviewed in May 2011)

Soviet archives

"The opening of one of the pits enabled the determination that they were filled with human bodies, most of which showed bullet wounds, on both sides of the skull. Among the mass of skeletons, there were skeletons of women and children. The pit was 3m deep." [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG 22.022.7021-72/14]

German archives

"Every marksman chose his victim himself, without an explicit order having been given from anywhere. Most of the time, this happened in the following way: he gave a sign to one of the people who had arrived, to stand still, or he arranged the person in a way he could shoot him or her. The marksman aimed his firearm at the person’s neck, and shot." [LG Koblenz 630521 9Ks2/62]

Historical note

Dzerzhinsk is located 40km southwest of Minsk. In 1939, there were 1,314 Jews living in Dzerzhinsk, comprising 15% of the total population. Much of the town was destroyed by aerial bombardment during the fighting when the town was captured. The city was under German occupation from 1941 to 1944.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

In August 1941, all the Jews of Dzerzhinsk were moved into a ghetto, which was located on a single street, as most of the rest of the town had been burned down. The liquidation of the Dzerzhinsk ghetto took place on October 21, 1941. The Jews were driven up Kolvinchin Hill, where an old castle stood. Here, a deep, wide pit had been dug, in which they were shot. At the beginning of March 1942, the Germans rounded up circa. 3,000 Jews in the Minsk ghetto and loaded them onto a train at the Minsk-Tovarnaya railway station. From there, they were transported to Dzerzhinsk station, where they were shot over the course of a two-day period in nearby pits in a forest called Ryzhavka.

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