Henichesk (Genichesk, Genitzshek, Heniszesk) | Kherson

/ Local landscape © Aleksey Kasyanov /Yahad-In Unum Liudmyla A., born in 1930, happened to witness the execution of about 250 Jews in a trench. © Aleksey Kasyanov /Yahad-In Unum Prior to the execution the Jews were confined to a barn which used to be located here, in front of the building. © Aleksey Kasyanov /Yahad-In Unum Yahad team with a witness at the execution site.  © Aleksey Kasyanov /Yahad-In Unum Yahad team records the witness interview at the execution site © Aleksey Kasyanov /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Henichesk

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 500 and 700

Witness interview

Liudmyla A., born in 1930, recalls: “Prior to their execution, the Jews were gathered and locked up in a barn which was guarded by the Romanians and local policemen and their dogs. With other villagers, we went there to feed the Jews. The Romanian soldiers lived at our house. I stole their food to give it to the Jews. To do it, first we had to creep along a canal that was used to water the fields and then we could pass the food through a small hole Someone else had to distract the guards in order for us to have the opportunity to pass them the food.” (Testimony n°2216 interviewed in Henichesk on May 24th, 2017)

Soviet archives

“[...] In 1941, during the German occupation of the town, I worked in the German administration as head of the street Krasnyj Oktyabr. Nikita P. came to my house accompanied by a policeman. They told me that they were going to round-up the Jews and that I had to accompany them to serve as a witness. We went to Felman’s house and brought her daughter and 8-year-old son to the police station. That day and night, we rounded-up all local Jews and brought them to the police station. The Riaboshnik family: father, mother, daughter and son, were also brought to the police office. The next morning Nikita P. ordered me to bring him 3 workers. I found two men and I was the third. We went to the kolkhoz “Volna Revolyutsyi” equipped with shovels and picks. In February 1942, at 9 am, all 250 Jews caught the day before were gathered in the kolkhoz barns and ordered to take off their warm clothes. Then, from the barn, all 250 Jews were brought by way of the Sverdlov Street out of the town and shot in an anti-tank ditch. 29 workers and I were walking behind the column in order to bury the Jews afterwards. Near the anti-tank ditch, the Jews were forced to undress and throw their clothes into the ditch. Once naked, the Jews were brought a little further and shot. Among the victims there were the elderly, men, women and infants. After the shooting, all the workers had to bury the murdered Jews. We worked from noon until nightfall. During the shooting, there were thirty Germans and some vehicles. All victims were put into a pile and buried.” [Deposition of an eyewitness Mikhail S. given to the State Extraordinary Commission on May 27th, 1944; RG 22.002M: 7021-77-408]

“In November 1941, the police rounded up the Jewish population of the Henichesk district. Carrying out the Gendarmerie’s orders, I conducted this operation in Henichesk. Based on the list given by the district administration, I and my police subordinates arrested about 20 Jewish families and brought them to the police station. [...] When all the arrests were completed, I was ordered to escort the arrested Jews to the police station. [...] When we arrived, the Gendarme told me to send my subordinate policemen home, but I had to stay. It was around 10 am. About twenty minutes later, the Gendarmerie officer ordered us to escort the Jews to the anti-tank ditch. On his order, about 150 Jews were selected and put in columns. There were women, children and elderly people. [...] The gendarmes who directed the operation walked at the front of the column; they had automatic weapons. The police marched behind and on either sides of the column; they had guns. I was walking in the end of the column; I had a Nagant revolver.
Once near the anti-tank ditch, the gendarmes ordered the Jews to undress to their underwear. Then, under the gendarmes’ orders, we took the Jews to the anti-tank ditch and the gendarmes shot them dead. At the end of the shooting, under the orders of the Gendarmes, F. and I finished off the Jews who had not been killed. I do not remember how many people I killed [...]. [Deposition of an accused Henichesk Police Chief drawn up on September 11th. The SBU State Archives Reel 80, Case n°10018, pp. 613-614]

German archives

“As a chief of the patrol deployed at Henichesk he carried out executions conducted on October 2nd through 4th, 1941. According to the report, the executions took place outside the town, about 500-800m from the closest house. No civilian would have seen the executions; only a few German soldiers could see from a distance of about 100m, although they were told to go away. Due to the small number of men in the patrol brigade (one chief and three subordinates), it was not possible to intervene and make the soldiers obey and keep their distance. All other executions that S. carried out took place in accordance with the instructions of the Einsatzgruppe D.” [Service note considering SS-Untersturmführer S., Sonderkommando 10a, October 8th, 1941; B162-1214 p.42]

Historical note

Henichevsk is located on the bank of the Azov sea 210 km south-east of Kherson. It was established in 1784. The Jews started to settle down in the city in the 1850s. In 1905, Henichesk suffered from a three days pogrom during which the Jewish shops and houses were plundered. According to the census of 1910, 4,786 Jews lived in Henichesk, making up 37% of the total population. Back then there was a Jewish synagogue, a Jewish cemetery, Talmud Torah school, a woman school, and several cheders. From 1924 to 1925 several Jewish kolkhozes were founded in the town. By 1939 the Jewish community decreased severely and numbered only 947 Jews.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Henichesk was occupied by the German forces on September 16th, 1941. Soon after the occupation the German administration established two Kommandanturs and appointed a new starosta. Through the witness’ testimony recorded by our team, Yahad-in-Unum confirms the information found in the archives on the mass shooting of Jews. According to the archives and testimony, about 286 Jews of Henichesk and nearby villages were rounded up and locked up in a kolkhoz barn for several days. After, they were shot on October 2nd to October 4th, 1941, in small groups in a ditch they dug themselves. According to a witness, the majority of Jews were native to Askania Nova. After the shooting the pits were filled in by requisitioned locals. Today there is a monument onsite. Another mass execution was conducted in November 1941.  In February 1942, between 250 and 400 local Jews and those who were rounded-up in entire district were shot outside the town in the direction of the Frunze village. The executions were conducted by Einzatsgruppe D and assisted by German Gendarmerie and local police.

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