Sosnytsia (Sostintsa, Sosnica, Sosnitza) | Chernihiv

/ Ambiance in the village of Sosnytsia © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Maria K., born in 1926: “My younger brother ran there and I followed him. We couldn’t see well because it was still dark. The Jews were shot at dawn.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Vasyl K., born in 1926: “Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, all Jews were registered and marked with armbands bearing the Star of David.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Nadia P., born in 1931: “Under the Germans, a Commandant was installed in our house. The Commandant name was Alberto. He was kind to us. From time to time, he gave us candies.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum The Yahad team with the witness at the edge of the ravine, where the Jews were murdered by Nazis and their collaborators © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum Maria K., born in 1926: “Both of her kids were shot dead. It was horrible to see that. She was cuddling her children and at that moment, the guard got off the horse and shot her dead in the back, close to the place where we were.” © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In The ravine where the execution of Jews took place. According to different sources, between 80 and 300 Jews were shot there. © Kate Kornberg/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Sosnytsia

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
From 80 to 300

Witness interview

Nadia P., born in 1931, describes the mass grave after the shooting: “The Jews were shot very early in the morning, at dawn, so we couldn’t see it and I was too little to go there. But one week later, I decided to go take a look. When we got there, we still could see the hands and legs coming out of the soil. The pit was not covered well.” (Testimony n°1961, interviewed in Sosnytsia, on November 11, 2015)

Soviet archives

“78 Jews were shot in Sosnystia on November 16, 1941, close to the village of Viunishche (this village no longer exists, it was integrated into Sosnytisa) under the order of the chief of the German gendarmerie and the starosta S. […]”[Act of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission drawn up on May 24, 1944; RG22.002M: Fond 7021, Opis 78, Delo 27]

Historical note

Sosnytsia is a village located on the banks of the Ubed River, 90km east of Chernigiv. The first Jewish settlements in Sosnytsia dated back to the 17th century.  During the course of its history, the Jewish community suffered from several waves of pogroms (1648, 1905, 1918). After the last pogrom in 1918, the Jewish population decreased dramatically as the Jewish population preferred to move to bigger cities. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, there was no synagogue, but there were several prayer houses. Apparently, the Jewish children went to the same school as non-Jews. The majority of Jews were involved in trade and the majority of stores belonged to Jews. Additionally, Jews also worked as artisans. On the eve of the war, 370 Jews lived in Sosnytsia (less than 4% of the total population). The village was occupied by Germans on September 8, 1941. Less than 10% of the prewar Jewish population managed to evacuate. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Immediately after the Germans’ arrival, all Jews were registered and marked with armbands bearing the Star of David. They were forbidden to work.  Although the Soviet archives provide the number of 78 Jews, other sources state that, in all, over 300 Jews were murdered in Sosnystia in several anti-Jewish aktions.

The first action, documented by the Soviet archives and confirmed by local witnesses, was carried out on November 16, 1941. During this action, 78 Jews were shot on the bare ground, in the ravine close to the Orthodox cemetery. Afterwards, their bodies were buried by the prisoners of war in several mass graves. One of the internet resources mentioned the execution of about 100 Jews on March 10, 1942. In addition to the Jews, about 60 Ukrainians were shot at different times at the same site, in the ravine. 

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