Olyka (Olika) | Volyn

Jewish Great Synagogue in Olyka, 1920s © Yad Vashem Photo Archives Inside the Great synagogue of Olyka. © Yad Vashem Photo Archives / Place where the synagogue used to be located in Olyka. © Victoria Bahr /Yahad-In Unum An ancient Jewish house in Olyka. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum The castle which used to belong to prince Radziwil. Before being taken to the shooting the Jews were locked up in this castle for three days. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum The witness shows where the ghetto was. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Petro Y., born in 1931: “The Jews laid down, one close to another, facing the ground. The SS soldiers were sitting at the table in front of it. They ate, drank, and talked.” © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Vasyl N., born in 1925: “We rent a part of the house from a Jewish family. The head of the family was Shlioma. His wife was Rivka. They had three children: Rosa, Feikha and Brukha”. © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Yahad team during the interview with the witness. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum Yahad team during the interview with the witnessn at the execution site. © Victoria Bahr - Yahad-In Unum The location of the execution site where about 700 Jews were murdered in early August 1941. Supposedly, 130 Jewish specialists were also murdered here in the early 1943.  Back then it was a Jewish cemetery. © Victoria Bahr/ Yahad-In Unum The location of the execution site where about 4,000 Jews were murdered. © Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Olyka

2 Execution site(s)

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

Witness interview

Vasyl N., born in 1925, an eyewitness to the shooting: “After, they were moved from the ghetto to the castle, where they were locked up in the basements. The basements in the castle were very big. They had nothing to drink and they were begging for water all the time. Back then, there were firefighters who pumped out water manually. One brought the vehicle and put the pipe inside the basement and the water started to come out on them. It lasted a long time because there was a lot of water in the barrels. When the firefighters left, the Jews stayed quiet. This happened in the evening and the following morning the Jews were taken to another side of the castle in the direction of the military training camp where the three big shooting training fields were located. Once there, all Jews were forced to sit down and then they were ordered to undress. At this moment we were at the orthodox cemetery and we could see what was happening. They were taken in groups of five inside the ditches and shot. It was a German who fired. First, he made them lie down with their heads in the direction of the exit and then he fired at them. Once there was a pile of corpses, he ordered the Jews to lie close to the first pile in order to make another pile. The shooting was conducted all day long. There were auxiliaries who charged the gun with bullets. The German had a uniform. He fired with a gun. The Jews laid down with their head towards him and he fired at their heads. And then, it was over.” (Testimony n°1774, interviewed in Olyka on July 28, 2013)

German archives

“The last big action was conducted in July of 1942. On Sunday, July 26, early in the morning, the ghetto was surrounded. All of the Jews were ordered to gather but many of them stayed in hiding. The Jews were taken to the Radziwilschen castle where they stayed until July 29. They did not receive any food or water. Many of them died there. Afterwards, I learned from two Polish brothers, Janek and Franak Salera that they had to take the corpses of the victims out of the castle. On July 29, the Jews were marched in groups of 40 to 50 about 1km away to the execution site where a big pit was located. They were forced to undress and were shot dead. The local Ukrainians were requisitioned by the Ukrainian police to fill the pit. After, I found out from some survivors that small children were not shot but thrown alive inside the pit. This action was conducted by Germans and Ukrainians. I learned from the eyewitnesses that a German, whose name I forgot, bragged about the number of Jews he shot that day. I stayed in hiding inside the ghetto until July 28 when I had an opportunity to escape in the forest.” [Declaration of Salomon Z., a Jewish survivor born in 1912 in Olyka, given in Boston, on June 5, 1964; B162-3877]

Historical note

Olyka is located about 40 km east of Lutsk. The first records about the Jewish community dates back to the 17th century. According to the census 2,606 Jews lived in Olyka in 1897, comprising half of the local population. In 1918 to 1921, the Jewish community suffered from different local gangs. Between the two world wars, Olyka remained under the Polish rule. During this interwar period, various Zionist organizations operated in the town.  There was also a Tarbut school, a Jewish library, and a yeshiva which was open for a short period of time.  The Jews lived off wholesale of limber and handcraft, such as shoemaking and tailoring. Many Jews owned their shops. In 1939, the town was taken over by the Soviet Union and all Jewish cultural and political movements were banned.  Supposedly, on the eve of the war, there were about 2,500 Jews in the town. Many Jewish refugees arrived from Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Germans occupied Olyka on June 27-28, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

According to the historical sources the first victims were about 100 Jews killed during the bombings. In July 1942 all Jews were marked with yellow distinguishing badges and all their valuables and gold was confiscated. They continued to live in their homes but they were forbidden to leave the town limits. They were subjected to perform different kinds of physical labor and robberies on behalf of local police.  The first anti-Jewish Aktion was conducted on August 12, 1941 when 682 Jewish men were first confined in the Radziwill castle under the pretext of being taken to forced labor, but were shot at the Jewish cemetery by the Security Police and the SD who arrived from Lutsk.

A closed ghetto was created on March 13, 1942, to confine all of the Jews from Olyka and neighboring villages. It existed until July of 1942. In the spring of 1942, 30 young Jews were sent for forced labor to Rivne. It is likely that they were murdered along with the local Jews in July 1942. On July 26, 1942, all Jewish inmates were moved from the ghetto to the Radziwil castle where they remained locked up without any food or water under the heat and sun for about three days. On July 29, 1942, once Security Police and a special SD squad arrived from Lutsk, the action started. In groups of 40 to 50 people, the Jews were marched about 300m to the shooting training fields where they were shot. Before the shooting, they were forced to undress and get inside the pit and lie down facing the ground. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the shooters had a table with drinks and food at the site. Only 130 Jewish specialists were left. According to some sources they were shot at the Jewish cemetery in early 1943. A number of Jews managed to escape during the liquidation of the ghetto.  According to the Soviet archives, 5,220 Jews from the entire Olyka district were murdered. 


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