Pyatka (Piatka) | Zhytomyr

/ In the yard of the witness’ house ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The building where the Kommendantur was installed during the occupation period ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The street on which the column of Jews was marched until the pits located on the banks of the river. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Frank R., born in 1925, describes the shooting: “Even if I was a little bit far away from the site, I could see the Jews line up at the edge of the pits with their head down. They were shot in groups of 15-20”. ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Vera T., born in 1922, eyewitness to the shooting: “There were four shooters, but they didn’t fire all at once, because there was no need. They took turns.” ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Arseniy Sh., born in 1928, eyewitness to the shooting: “In the beginning, the remaining Jews had put the soil on the corpses before being killed themselves.But at the end, the local people were requisitioned to cover the pits.”©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum Arseniy Sh., reconstructs the day of the shooting with Yahad’s team at the killing site ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum The location of the two mass graves where about 250 Jews were murdered ©Victoria Bahr/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Pyatka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Close to the river
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 250

Witness interview

Arseniy SH., born in 1928, remembers: “Before being, shot all the Jews were gathered in the center, near the synagogue and from there they marched until the pit. There were two pits dug, one close to another, on the foot of the hill. They were not far away from the center of the village, about 500m away. Beforehand, all the Jews were told to take their belongings with them under the pretext of being transported somewhere, but, I think, they knew already that they would be killed. Once there, the Jews had to disrobe to their underwear at the top of the hill and get down to the pit. They also were forced to take off all their valuables and gold things and put them into the boxes nearby.” (Eyewitness n°1718, interviewed in Pyatka, on June 1, 2013)

Soviet archives

“At the end of October 1941, I don’t remember which day, around 11 o’clock, a German car and a truck arrived next to the executive building of the village. In this car, there were 5 Germans; in the truck, 50-60 policemen from Chudnov’s district. We received the order to gather the Jews of Pyatka. If a Jew tried to escape, we were allowed to shoot. This operation was finished at 4pm and the Jews were at the execution site by then. There were approximately 150 Jews. We brought the Jews to a hill where a grave had been dug. After a while, we heard the shots. The Jews were shot in groups of 12.” [Interrogatory of an accused in crimes, Feliks M.,SBU archives, file 6865]

Historical note

Pyatka is located on the bank of the Pyatok river 34km southwest of Zhytomyr. Before the war, the Jewish population was not significant and represented only 20% of all inhabitants. According to the witnesses’ accounts, all the Jews lived in the center, one close to another. There were traders and craftsmen among them. They owned workshops of fabrication of clothing, hats. Witness n°1718 remembers that there was a Jew who made bricks, 20x20 in size, and sold them to England. Some of the Jews owned or worked in the factories, like leather factories or furniture factories. There was a wooden synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. There was a Jewish school located in the same building as the synagogue, but several witnesses confirmed that Jewish children were also sent to the Ukrainian school. The village was occupied by German forces in early July 1941. By that time some Jews evacuated and young men were enrolled in the Soviet army.  According to some sources, only 250 Jews stayed in the village at the moment of the occupation.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Straight after the German arrival, all Jews were marked with armbands and any contact with the local population was not allowed. The first anti-Jewish Aktion was conducted in August during which several men were rounded-up and killed in the park of Chudniv. After that, all the Jews were confined within the synagogue. According to the historical sources and local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, they remained there for a while until the liquidation in late October 1941. During that time, they were subjected to farm work. During the liquidation action, over 200 Jews were murdered by mobile unit Einsatzkommando 5 aided by local police.

 For more detail about the execution of Jews in Chudniv please refer to the corresponding profile.

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