Orlovka | Voronezh

/ Nikolay G.,born in 1930: “Maybe from all the patients of one unit, which numbered about sixty people, only a dozen were more or less lucid.”© /Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team during an interview. © Yahad-In Unum The location of the site where Jews and non-Jews were massacred by the Germans during the occupation. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The hospital for the mentally disabled in Orlovka. 720 patients, as well as two Jewish doctors and their families, were murdered on its grounds. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad-In Unum The hospital for the mentally disabled in Orlovka. 720 patients, as well as two Jewish doctors and their families, were murdered on its grounds. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad-In Unum The memorial to the 720 mentally ill patients of the facility murdered by the Germans, along with two Jewish doctors and their families. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews and mentally disabled people in Orlovka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Hospital grounds
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 720

Witness interview

Nikolay G., born in 1930: “The Germans arrived here in July 1942, more than one year after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany. Several Germans settled down in the village of Petrino where I was living back then. One German officer stayed in my house. But he didn’t stay that long because the village was retaken by the Red Army shortly after. This German spoke Russian, by the way. There were also police and a starosta who was named by the Germans. The German headquarters was installed in Orlovka. Before the war, my mother used to work in the hospital for the mentally disabled, but following the Germans’ arrival, the facility was closed. Some patients ran away while others were murdered by [the] Germans.” (Witness n°769R, interviewed in Orlovka, on April 26, 2018)

Soviet archives

"Question: What do you know about the crimes committed by [the] German-fascist invaders on the territory of the Orlovka psychiatric hospital?
Answer: This is what I can say about the crimes committed by [the] German-fascist invaders on the territory of the Orlovka psychiatric hospital. In July and August 1942, on the territory of the psychiatric hospital "Orlovka", the German-fascist invaders shot in several shootings more than 700 mentally ill patients of the hospital, including women, men, children, the elderly, as well as two Jewish women doctors, Dr. Gruzd and Dr. Reznikova. They also shot a 1.5-month-old baby, Dr. Reznikova’s son. The mass shootings carried out by the Germans began on July 14, 1942. At 10 o’clock in the morning, under an order of the director of the psychiatric hospital Ananiev, chief doctor Anikine, [and] doctor Karpov, all the mentally ill were gathered like cattle in the shed near building n°2. Then, the Germans ordered to bring the [mentally] sick people from the shed to the air bomb explosion craters where they were shot. In addition, under the order of the director Ananiev and Dr. Karpov, 10 meters from the shed, the patients themselves dug a pit about 7 meters long, 3 meters wide, where the mentally ill were also shot. Besides that, the shootings of the mentally ill also took place near building n°9 in the pit prepared for flowers’ greenhouses. This bloody execution of innocent people carried out by the German invaders lasted from 10am to 4pm.
Question: What role did you play in the shootings of the mentally ill?
Answer: On July 14, 1942, at 8am, I was called to building n°2 by Dr. Karpov, who ordered me to send 10 mentally ill patients with shovels to building n° 2 to dig a pit, but he did not tell me what for. I executed Karpov’s order. I had no idea the pit was prepared for the shooting of the ill patients. Then, I went to the warehouse to get [a] pitchfork, [and] when I got out of the warehouse, two armed Germans approached me and took me to the shed and ordered me to take sick people to the bomb shell craters for the shooting. That is what I did, and the Germans shot them. I took a total of 6 people there who were shot by the Germans. Afterwards, the Germans told me to stay near the door of the shed in order to open and close it. Besides me, there was also Yakov S. and some teenage kids whose names I don’t know, who were taking the mentally ill to the shooting. I can’t remember who was present from the hospital’s staff. After the shooting of around 500 mentally ill people who were in the shed, I came back home. I didn’t see who was burying the bodies, nor did I see who shot the female doctors because I was at home." [Deposition given by Nikolay M., born in 1885, worked as treasurer at the Hospital for mentally disabled people, to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commision (ChGK); Fond 7021, opis 22, delo 496].

Historical note

Orlovka is a village in Russia located 18km (11mi) southwest of Voronezh. The Voronezh province lay outside of the Jewish Pale of Settlement, and until 1890, Jews were forbidden to settle there. By 1897, 2,800 Jews lived in the Voronezh province, including 1,708 Jews living in Voronezh itself. There is no exact information on how many Jews lived in Orlovka. The common professions were administration and the liberal professions. From the Soviet archives we know that some medical personnel of the hospital for mentally ill people were Jewish.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Orlovka was occupied by the Germans and Hungarians on July 7, 1942. During the occupation, which lasted six months, all the remaining patients from the mental health facility were murdered. According to the Soviet archives, 720 mentally ill patients, including about 400 brought from Voronezh, were murdered during several shootings conducted on the territory of the hospital on July 14, 1942. Two Jewish doctors and their families were executed along with the patients. Before the execution, the victims were gathered in a shed near building n°2.

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