Kosiv (Kosov, Kosow) | Ivano-Frankivsk

/ / Volodymyr T., born in 1928: “They dug one pit that was very big. Once the pit was ready, the Germans rounded up all the Jews with the exception of the Jews who worked for the Germans.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Volodymyr T., born in 1928: “For example, they would take everyone from the family, the two children, wife, parents, but the father wouldn’t be taken because he worked for the Germans.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team with a witness during an interview. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The execution site of over 2,000 Jews murdered here during the occupation. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving tombstones at the Kosiv Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving tombstones at the Kosiv Jewish cemetery. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The former building of Jewish Cooperative Bank opened in 1929. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum There was a Jewish shop in this building before the war. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Before being taken to the execution site, the Kosiv Jews were gathered here, and then in groups of a hundred or so taken to the shooting site located near the destroyed fortress. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The surviving building of one of the synagogues in Kosiv. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Maria D., born in 1933: “Something bad happened to them after, but I don’t know if I should tell you about that.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team with a witness on the way towards the place where she witness one Jewish man being murdered. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Maria D., born in 1933: “While watching we saw about a hundred people in the column being escorted by one German at the head of the column, two on both sides and one at the end.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Maria D., born in 1933, showing the Yahad team where a Jewish man from the column that passed though Kosiv in the direction of Kolomyia was shot. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The road by which the column of the Jews gathered in the surroundings of Kosiv passed. Anyone unable to walk was shot on the spot. According to an eyewitness, a Jewish man was shot here. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Kosiv

3 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Town Hill (1) ; Jewish cemetery (2) ; Road (3)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Ca 2,100

Witness interview

Volodymyr T., born in 1928: “Before the war, many Jews lived here. They made up about 90% of the total population. They mainly lived in the city center. The school was also in the center. It was for everyone, Jews, Poles and Ukrainians. Although the Jews had their own schools, two of them where children started to learn from the age of six. When they went to the general school with the others, they had a much better level of education than us. My best friend at school was Moishe. He was the rabbi’s son. He would come with a kipa on his head. His family had a summer house on my street, and I knew them very well. Moishe had four siblings, whose names were Eva, Jacob, Samson and Shloima. I can’t remember who was the eldest and who was the youngest Mosihe’s mothers’s name was Riva. The grandmother’s name was Rachel.” (Witness n°YIU/2280U, interviewed in Kosiv, on September 17, 2017)

German archives

"On Thursday, October 16, 1941, the Gendarmerie reported that the Gestapo was there and that they needed 60-70 men to work. By this time, we had already seen a Gestapo truck arrive. All vehicles were watched, and no Jews were allowed to leave the city. In the end the Gestapo people held the town, went from house to house and rounded up all the Jews, men, women and children. Shortly afterwards, a transport (which was parked in front of the Judenrat’s house) with 400 Jews left. The Gestapo officer entered the house with a gun in his hand and shouted, "Alle Juden raus! He wanted to take all the members of the Judenrat (of which I was also a member) when the commander of the Gendarmerie arrived and intervened in favor of their release. The Gestapo did not want to know anything at first; they said that if it was not this Judenrat, it would be another one. Finally they let them go free. We even succeeded in freeing some Jews who were nearby. Once in the house, another Gestapo officer arrived and asked us if we had any carpets, fabrics, etc. The Judenrat always had inventories of such things. We showed him and he took some. We asked him if it was not possible to do something to free our people… We would give furs, cloths, carpets. He answered that he was not in a position to do anything but that he would bring the Obersturmführer and Gauleiter who led the Aktion. He arrived shortly afterwards with the head of the special service [Spezialdienst] in Kolomea, Göttl, and ordered us to hand over 50 furs, 100 carpets and a number of other valuable things as tribute for the release of the prisoners and said that everything would be all right. We only had to bring everything by 5 o’clock in the evening.
We started to collect everything immediately, everyone gave what they had, and we went to the houses of the Jews to get as much as possible. Göttl came every half hour and was already taking what we had collected. Suddenly we heard shooting from the hill in the middle of the city, behind the Judenrat. We thought it was a false alarm, because we couldn’t imagine that the people arrested were being shot. When Göttl returned, we asked him what the shooting meant. He only replied: "Don’t be afraid, provide enough and everything will be fine." [Report on the extermination of the Jews in Poland, Geneva, 1944; Presented by Dr. Silberstein, representative of the World Jewish Congress; BAL B162-2227 p.108-135]

Historical note

Kosiv is a mountain town located on the edge of the Ukrainian Carpathians, 75 km (47mi) southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk. The first mention of Kosiv dates back to 1318, when it was part of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Until 1772 it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1772 until 1914 part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1914 to 1919, the town was the control of different states, from the Russian Empire to the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (from 1918 until May 1919). In between the two world wars, it was taken over by Poland before being occupied by Soviet Union in September 1939. The first records of the Jewish community date back to the late 16th or early 17th century. According to a late 18th-century census, Kosiv comprised nearly 257 Polish or Ukrainian families and more than 110 Jewish families. In the 18th century, the majority of Jews lived off salt industry, trade and handicraft, such as carpet weaving, wood-crafts, and ceramics. Hasidism was the dominant religious movement, although the Zionists created their branch there in 1898. They became more active after the First World War. The community had at least two synagogues, a cemetery and a cheder. In 1880, the Jewish community in Kosiv numbered more than 2,000 people making up 78% of the town’s population. In 1921, the Jewish community of Kosiv numbered more than 2,166 people out of a total of 4,234. Following the Soviet occupation in September 1939, all social institutions and political organizations were dissolved. By 1941, about 3,700 Jews remained in Kosiv, including the refugees who arrived from Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Kosiv was occupied by Hungarian troops on July 1, 1941. Until August 1, 1941, when the power was transferred to the German General Government, the Jews continued to live freely in the village and were not persecuted. The Jewish community of Kosiv as well as the refugees who arrived from the West were murdered during several executions which were mostly organized and carried out by the Security Police outpost (Sipo- Aussendienststelle) based in Kolomyia. The first shooting took place in September 1941, when seven Jews were arrested and killed, allegedly because they were communists. On October 16– 17, 1941, a mass Aktion was carried out. Over the course of the two days, (two weeks according to local witnesses), 2,088 Jews, including some Jews brought in from the surrounding area, were rounded up and shot into two ditches on the Town Hill. The main synagogue was burned down during this Aktion. On April 24, 1942, circa. 1,000 Jews were moved to the Kolomyia ghetto. According to some sources, a ghetto was established in Kosiv in May 1942. The remaining 1,200 Jews, including their families, who worked for the Wehrmacht or other German offices were confined in this ghetto. On September 7, 1942, under the pretext of a registration, the Jews were gathered in the sports stadium. After a selection, 56 artisans were released while some 500 Jews were imprisoned. On the same day, a group of Jews from Kuty was brought to Kosiv. The next day, all the Jewish prisoners, some 1,500 in total, were taken to Kolomyia. From there, they were deported along with Jews from other nearby settlements to the Bełzec extermination camp. The isolated shootings of Jews found in hiding continued until late October 1942. The victims were either shot on the spot, at the Jewish cemetery or taken to Kolomyia. Today, on Town Hill, there is a memorial to the victims of the Nazi regime.

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