1 Execution site(s)
Vasyl H., born in 1932: “I was on the hill grazing the cows with my parents and other villagers. We could see the village of Mykhalche from a distance, because it was on the side of the Dniester, across the river. We saw a pit being dug. The Jews were brought there by truck. Once the truck arrived and everyone was forced out and told to wait nearby. Then they had to undress, before being taken towards the pit in groups. There was a plank across the pit that the victims were forced to walk onto. After the shooting the plank, was thrown into the pit and it was covered. The shooting lasted at least two days, from morning to noon. There were Jews from Horodenka but also Jewish refugees from Hungary among the victims.” (Witness n°2344U, interviewed in Ustechko, on October 31, 2017)
"I was born in the town of Horodenka, where I have lived until now. Before the war started in 1941, 6000 Jews lived in the [district] of Horodenka. From the beginning of the war in 1941, about 1,000 Jewish refugees arrived there. In the Horodenka district, the German invaders mistreated and shot about 7,000 Jews. The Germans organized anti-Jewish Aktions. There were three large and several small Aktions in the district.
The first anti-Jewish Aktion took place on December 4 and 5, 1941. During this Aktion, 2500 Jews, including children of all ages, women, men, and old people were shot on the edge of Dniester, in the district of Chernelista. I personally did not see this shooting, because I jumped out of the truck halfway to the shooting site and ran away. My [illegible, wife?] And three small were was taken there and shot like all the others. After the shooting, I learned from rumors from the employees of the Jewish administration - which existed at that time and worked for the Germans - that all 2,500 people were shot. Before the shooting, the Jews were forced to undress and take off their shoes. All their belongings were taken to Horodenka and sold in a store.” [Deposition of Jewish survivor, Aron Fridman, born in 1892, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission; GARF 7021-73-11]
"As far as I recall, on December 2 and 3, 1941, a Sonderkommando came from Kolomea [Kolomyia] to Horodenka. There was a rumor that if the Jewish community gave money to the Sonderkommando we would have nothing to fear. Some, like my husband and brother, did not believe it and hid outside the city. On the morning of December 4, I saw the Ukrainian auxiliaries [Hilfspolizei] on the street in front of our house. I wanted to run away from the house quickly, but another Ukrainian policeman was already standing in our yard. Then I saw that the town was surrounded by men in uniform. Two German officers - I think they were Gestapo men - entered our house shortly afterwards, chased me, my parents and relatives who were sleeping at our house to the small synagogue in town. We had to hand over our papers, jewellery, and watches. Soon after, trucks arrived in front of the synagogue, and we were forced to get in. The elderly and children were pushed in first, I struggled to stay with my parents. Many thought that we were being taken to work. Among the surveillance team was a young SS man whose name I later learned. His name was Krieger. I noticed him because he looked intelligent and cultured. I looked at him and wondered how such a man came to participate in such an Aktion. He must have noticed because he slapped me and said, "Why are you staring like that." [Deposition of Netti Kimmerling, Jewish survivor born in 1916, given in Chicago, on September 9, 1966; BAL B162-2240 p.47]
Mykhalche is a town located on the banks of the Dniester River, 77 km (49mi) southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk. Until 1772, it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1772 until 1914 of the Austrian Empire. From 1914 to 1919, the town was under the control of different states, from Russian Empire to the Western Ukrainian 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 town’s Jewish community date back to the late 17th - early 18th centuries. According to local witnesses, a couple of Jewish families lived in the town. They were mainly merchants or artisans. A bigger Jewish community lived in Ustechko, across the Dniester river, and in Horodenka.
Mykhalche was occupied by the Hungarian army on July 5, 1941. The Jews continued to live in their houses until winter 1941. On December 4 and 5, a mass execution of Jews transferred in from Horodenka took place. Jewish refugees from Hungary, detained in Ustechko, were also among them. During the first days of the Aktion, a Gestapo unit arrived from Kolomyia and assembled all the Jews at the synagogue. Anyone who showed up at the synagogue was loaded onto trucks and taken to the forest, a youth summer camp, located next to the Dniester river where pits had been dug in advance. According to the Soviet archives and testimonies of the Jewish survivors, about 2,500 Jews were murdered during this Aktion. Before being shot, they were forced to undress, before being forced to walk onto the plank that had been put across the pit in groups, from which they fell inside when shot. The shooting was conducted by one or two shooters, most likely Gestapo men. After the shooting, all the victims’ clothes and shoes were gathered and taken back to Horodenka, where they were sold to local population. The remaining Jews who had managed to hide, as well as artisans and their families from all over district were confined in the ghetto created in Horodenka. The ghetto was liquidated on September 17, 1942.
For more information about the Horodenka ghetto and executions please refer to the corresponding profile
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