Sniatyn (Snetin, Sniatin, Snitin, Snyatin) | Ivano-Frankivsk

German officials examine the pile of abandoned luggage left on the platform after the departure of a deportation train  on its way to the Belzec death camp.©Photo Archive in public domain Kateryna P., born in 1932: " Back then I was a little girl, but it has stayed imprinted in my memory. They warned us to not go otherwise the Germans would kill us.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. Iryna S.: “Even though I was little, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even imagine that one day someone else would be interested in knowing that.” ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. Nikifor S., born in 1925: “During the German occupation a school was opened here. I went there. It was a Handelschule, created not far away from the ghetto. I followed the computability classes there. Once I’d finished, I worked in the German shop.”  ©Les The Yahad team during an interview with a local witness. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The surviving building of a synagogue in Sniatyn. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. Although not confirmed by any of the local witnesses, we believe that this is the building of a former Jewish synagogue, abandoned today. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The Sniatyn railway station from where the Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The Sokil building where the Jews were confined before being shot or deported. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The bridge where several elderly Jews were killed while being marched in the column towards the railway station. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The main execution site with a memorial. Back then it was a forest located next to the village of Potichok. About 5,000 Jews were killed here. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum. The memorial to 5,000 Jews from Sniatyn and surrounding villages killed here during the war. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad - In Unum.

Execution of Jews in Potichok and Sniatyn

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Ravine
Memorials:
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims:
5,000

Witness interview

Kateryna P., born in 1932: "One day I was on my way to school when the Germans stopped me. They were all over the area, forming a kind of a cordon. Normally I would go down that street to go to school, but this time Germans made me understand that I needed to go different way. It happened on the day when the Jews were taken out of the building they were confined in and marched to the railway station. I didn’t see them being rounded up, just the end of the column. They went in the direction of the railway station, passing over the bridge over the Prut River.” (Witness n°2341U, interviewed in Sniatyn, on October 30, 2017)

Soviet archives

“In the Sniatyn district, many Jews from the district’s villages were taken and shot near the village of Potichok.
Village of Stetsivka: 1) 88 Jews arrested on April 28, 1942, then sent to Sniatyn, shot by the Germans two days later in a ravine near Potichok. 2) 5 Jews arrested on November 25, 1942, taken to Potichok, shot in a ravine by the Germans.
Hamlet of Budyliv: 35 Jews arrested in 1942 by the Germans, then sent to Sniatyn and shot by the Germans in a ravine near the village of Potichok.
Village of Karlovo (currently: Prutivka): 17 Jews arrested by the Germans on April 28, 1942, then transported to Sniatyn and shot two days later in a ravine near the village of Potichok.
Village of Zapruttia: 17 Jews arrested in 1942 by the Germans, then taken to the village of Potichok and shot. Their bodies were thrown into pits.
Village of Beluia: 30 Jews shot in the forest near Potichok.
Villages of Podvysokoye and Orelets: Jewish inhabitants arrested in April 1942, then sent to Sniatyn and shot near Potichok.” [Summary of the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission; GARF : Fond 7021, Opis 73, Delo 17]

German archives

"I lived in Sniatyn when the war started and I stayed there until September 1942, when I fled to Romania. During the occupation I worked in Sniatyn as a coachman for the Gestapo. (...) There were several waves of Aktions in Sniatyn. Two or three times, the Jews were deported to death camps in freight cars - where, I don’t know. In addition, Jews were often shot in the "Potoczek" forest [Potichok]. The future victims (...) were gathered in the Gestapo yard - I was there with the horses. (...) The Gestapo men watched the victims being loaded into the cars. Then they all left for the execution site. After each Aktion, the victims’ clothes were brought back - the best clothes went into the Gestapo stock. I was ordered to sort out the clothes. Sometimes I found papers and photographs of people I knew. There were 5,000 Jews in our town. During the occupation, Jews from the surrounding villages and even from the town of Zablotow [Zabolotiv] were deported from Sniatyn. When I escaped from Sniatyn (on September 7, 1942) there were no more Jews in the town (...)". [Deposition of Szmuel Holder, made in Natania, on December 12, 1965].

Historical note

Sniatyn is a town located on the bank of the river Prut, about 40 km (25mi) east of Kolomyia and 90 km (56mi) southeast of Ivano-Frankivsk. Until 1772, it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1772 until 1914 of the Austrian Empire.  From 1914 to 1919 the town was under the control of different states, from Russian Empire (1914-1915), Austro-Hungarian Empire (1915-1918), to the Western Ukrainian Republic (from 1918 until May 1919). In between the two world wars, it was taken over by Poland before being occupied by the Soviet Union in September 1939. The first records of the town’s Jewish community date back to the 16th century. In 1900, 1,203 Jews resided in Sniatyn, out of a total population of 11,500. They were mainly merchants or artisans. The community had several synagogues, a cemetery and Jewish schools. In 1931, 4,341 Jews lived in the Sniatyn District. On the eve of the war, 1939, 3,248 Jews lived in the town. By 1941, this number increased up to 5,000 due to relocation of Jews from the German occupied territories. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Sniatyn was occupied by the Hungarian army on June 30, 1941, which was then swiftly replaced by Romanians. About a week later, aided by some Ukrainian groups, the Romanians staged riots in the town and more than 20 Jews were murdered. The Romanians had control of Sniatyn for about two more weeks, after which the Hungarians took over until September 1941, when Sniatyn was incorporated in the Galicia District German Civil administration. Shortly after that, all Jews were registered. A Judenrat was created. The Judenrat was responsible for supplying people for forced labor, and were also held responsible for the many Jews who came to Sniatyn from surrounding villages during September and October. The first mass execution took place in the end of September 1941. After having requested a ransom and being paid, the Germans murdered 30 Jews in the forest, located near the village of Potichik. Before their executions, they were forced to dig their own graves. The shootings in the forest near Potichik continued throughout October through to December 1941. The anti- Jewish Aktions in Sniatyn were organized and conducted by the Security Police outpost in Kolomyia. A ghetto was created in Sniatyn at the end of March 1942. It was fenced in with barbed wire. The Jews were not allowed to leave. On April 6, 1942, about 2,000 people were transported from Sniatyn to the Nazi German death camp at Belzec. Over the subsequent months, Jews from other towns in the Sniatyn district were resettled to Sniatyn itself. During this time, many Jews tried to cross the border to get onto Romanian occupied territories, but few succeeded. On September 7, 1942, about 250 Jews were brought into the Sniatyn ghetto from the town of Zabolotiv. Over the following days, the final liquidation of the ghetto started. The Germans rounded up and locked up the ghetto inmates in the pre-war gymnasium “Sokil” building. They kept them there for six days without food or water. On September 10, 1942, they transported the 1,582 Jews that had survived to the Belzec death camp. According to an eyewitness interviewed by Yahad, while crossing a bridge on their way to the railway station, the Germans pushed several elderly people off the bridge and into the river below. Moreover, several hundred Jews were killed in their homes, or hiding places, while attempting to escape or hide.

Jewishgen

Nearby villages

  • Kolomyia
  • Zabolotiv
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