3 Execution site(s)
Yekaterina A., born in 1933: “[…] I know that my mother sometimes went to the house where the Jews lived… there were 4 kids in our family, and she baked matzah bread and would bring us some from the Jews to eat. We were a poor family.
Y. U.: Do you mean you also ate matzah bread?
Witness: Yes, mother baked it, brought us some home and we shared it among us. My younger sister might remember better. She is 4 years younger, 83 years old.
Y. U.: Did your mother bake matzah bread just for this family, or for others as well?
Witness: No, only that one family that lived near here. Their house doesn’t exist anymore, there are new houses built on that spot.
Y. U.: Were there children in the Jewish family?
Witness: Yes, there were.
Y. U.: Do you perhaps remember their names?
Witness: But they were killed by the Germans… there was one called Fania, and another called Roza. It was a long time ago, I can’t remember well! (Witness n°910, interviewed in Pervomaiskiy, on August 21, 2019)
Pervomaiskiy is located 23km (14miles) northwest of Shumiachi and 100km (62 miles) northeast of Smolensk. There is no exact information on how many Jews lived in the village, but the majority of the population was Jewish. They worked in the glass factory built in 1879 by a Jewish merchant from Roslavl. Some Jews were merchants or artisans. The Jewish community has its own synagogue and a Jewish Yiddish school which was transformed into a Russian school in 1938.
Pervomaiskiy was occupied by German troops on August 2nd 1941. According to the historian Y. Tsyman, no ghetto was created in the village. However, all the Jews were marked with yellow badges. Under the occupation, the Jews were victims of theft and various forms of humiliation. According to Tsyman, young Jewish girls were taken and systematically raped by local police in the public sauna that used to be located on the territory of the glass factory. The Jews of Pervomaiskiy and Zakahrino were executed over the course of several isolated shootings. The main execution (of about 20 Jews) was carried out in March 1942. That day, the Jews were taken behind the glass factory and shot in a pit. There is a memorial at the site today. Another four Jews were shot around the same time and near the well. With the help of a local witness, Yahad - In Unum identified another site located on the outskirts of the village in the direction of Shumiachi. The number of victims murdered there remains unknown, but according to the recorded testimonies and certain historical sources, local Jews were shot alongside some Jews from Zakharino at the site.
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