Smotrych (Smotrich) | Khmelnytskyi

The Smotrych labor school around 1925. ©Taken from An Old inn in Smotrych. Photo from the collection of Pavlo Zholtovskiy and Stefan Taranushenko. ©Taken from A Street in Smotrych in 1930. Photo by S. Taranushenko. ©Digital copy was taken from / Liubov B., born in 1928: “Sukhevych, my classmate, was attached to a horse and taken to the execution site They fired at least 30 bullets into him and threw him into the pit, where he continued to scream.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team during an interview in Smotrych, 2008. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Nina K., born in 1937: “The Smotrych Jews were assembled near the bridge when the Germans arrived. Some of them were happy to greet them.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Lidia L., born in 1933: “When the Germans arrived everyone was happy, even the Jews.  Then everything changed. The local police was created. Some of the ones who enrolled on the voluntary basis were the cruelest.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Lyubov B., born in 1924: “In Smotrych, the Jews weren’t shot right away. Some of them were taken to Kamianest-Podilskyi where they were shot in the quarry. I saw them being taken away. The column was huge. The Jews walked calmly carrying their belongings Maria K., born in 1927: “I was taken by one of the Schutzmanns who mistook me for a Jew. But then another Schutzmann came and told them to let me go, because I was ‘theirs’. My Jewish classmate was killed.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Vasyl Ia., born in 1925: “One Jew managed to run away from the site, but he was caught and brought back.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Olga B., born in 926: “A friend of mine, Dora Markuli, who managed to escape to the forest where she stayed in hiding with six other girls, was caught in 1943 and shot at the cemetery. She had been denounced.” ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum Surviving tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in Smotrych. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum The mass grave of the Jewish victims murdered at the Jewish cemetery in Smotrych. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Smotrych

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Quarry (1); Jewish cemetery (2)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Olga B., born in 1926: “When the Germans arrived, the Jews were persecuted and humiliated. When a Jew was caught at the market without special authorization, for example, he was forced to eat everything he had bought. He had no other choice than to eat everything, even if it was raw. I didn’t see the Jews being shot at the quarry, but I did see them being shot at the cemetery. The shootings at the cemetery were conducted in late 1942-1943. A friend of mine, Dora Markuli, who managed to escape to the forest where she stayed in hiding with other six girls, was caught in 1943 and shot at the cemetery. She had been denounced. She wasn’t forced to undress before being killed. She was shot fully clothed.” (Witness n°659U, interviewed in Smotrych, on August 14, 2008)

Soviet archives

“On May 25, 1944, the county commission (…) examined the murder and shooting site of the civilian residents of Smotrich County. Two mass graves that were located almost in the center of Smotrich were opened. The opening of the first grave that measured 9x2x1m, revealed a total of 40 bodies lying in complete disorder, in various positions, some were vertical, some horizontal. The clothing had been partially preserved and most of the bodies were preserved, [but] it was impossible to identify the murder victims. [The bodies] display traces of physical violence, often there are heads with broken jaws. The age of the victims varies from that of adults to children.
In the second grave, the bodies are lightly covered with earth. Due to the rapid decomposition of the bodies, it was not possible to establish the [gender] composition or the number of the victims.” [Act drawn up by Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on May 25, 1944; TsGAOOU 166-3-215]

Historical note

Smotrych is a small town located in the Dunayivtsi district, 33 km (22mi) north of Kamianets-Podilsky. Until 1795, it had been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but it was then taken over by the Russian Empire. The first records of Jewish community go back to the early 18th century. In 1765, 375 Jews lived in the town, and by 1847, the Jewish community had grown and numbered 1,274 individuals. In 1897, the community comprised 40% of the total population. The majority of the local Jews worked as merchants, mainly of agricultural goods, and artisans. There were at least nine synagogues and prayer houses, cheders and Yeshiva schools.During the civil war, the Jewish community suffered greatly from the pogroms. During the 1920s the cheders were closed and all religious and youth movements were forbidden. In 1930, a Jewish kolkhoz [collective farm] was established. The previously independent artisans were forced to enter cooperatives. On the eve of the war, in 1939, 1,075 Jews remained in the town, comprising only 19% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Smotrych was occupied by Germans on July 9, 1942. The shootings of the Jews started shortly after. During the first days of occupation, about 40 Jews were shot in the center of Smotrych. According to witnesses interviewed by Yahad  - In Unum, one Jew was killed the moment he went out of his house to greet the Germans. The shootings continued through August 1941. According to local witnesses, about twenty Jews were shot in the river. On September 1, 1941, a mass execution took place. Women, children and elderly people were selected and taken outside the town to the quarry where they were murdered. The shooting was most probably conducted by Einzatgruppe C. The remaining 700 Jews were transferred to Kamianets-Podilskyi. They were murdered in late autumn 1942 along with other Jews of the district.

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