Stare Misto | Ternopil

/ / Ivanna B., born in 193 : "A Jewish girl of about 4 years old walked away from the pit and started picking poppies. As soon as one of the Germans saw it, he killed her. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Iaroslav C., born in 1931, gave our team key information in order better understand how the Pidhaitsi ghetto was organized, as well as how the mass shootings in Stare Misto and Zahaitsi were conducted. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team leader with a witness drawing a diagram of the execution site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Iaroslav C., born in 1931, takes our team to the execution site at Stare Misto. On June 6, 1943, while he was in a nearby field, he observed the Jews being brought in groups of 30 by truck to this location. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team leader with a witness at the execution site near Stare Misto. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Aerial view at the execution site in Zahaitsi. Back then it was a field. There are two mass graves at this site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum Execution site in a field north of Stare Misto. Here, on June 6, 1943, between 1,200 and 2,000 Jews were shot in two large mass graves. A memorial stone was erected at the site. ©Les Kasyanov/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews from Pidhaitsi in Stare Misto

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Between 1,200 and 2,000

Witness interview

Ivanna B., born in 1930: “When we arrived at the killing site, the shooting had already started. We watched from about 50m away. The area was surrounded by a dozen German policemen. They wore uniforms and had skull and bones signs on their caps. I can’t tell you exactly how many Jews were there, because I didn’t count them, but as far as I remember, there were about a thousand. There were men, women, and children. They stood waiting for their turn several meters away from the pit. Then they approached the pit in groups, undressed, and walked onto the plank. After an automatic rattle they would fall inside the pit. Personally, I think many fell inside while still alive or just wounded. They just couldn’t kill everyone with an automatic rattle.” (Witness n°2542U, interviewed in Stare Misto, on December 3, 2019)

Soviet archives

"[...] In June 1943, on a Sunday, I don’t remember the date, [I learned] that a round-up of Jews was organized in town and that the pit was being dug outside Stare Misto. So, I went to the town to see [...]. It was forbidden to move around in town, so I went into a church where mass was being celebrated. [...]On my way home [...] I saw four trucks transporting Jews outside Stare Misto. All four trucks were filled exclusively with young girls. I heard that other Jews were brought outside Stare Misto on foot. Once I got home, I heard isolated gunfire coming from outside the city. So, I decided to go and see the field outside of town where the shooting took place. Once there, I saw a German G***, who would have come here from the Gestapo from Berezhany or Ternopil, going in the direction of the village. I arrived 300 or 400 meters from the shooting site; the shooting was coming to an end. The Jews were stripped naked and shot. About 60 Jews were kept alive to bury the bodies. Then, a certain M*** took half of these 60 remaining Jews and shot them. The second half had to bury their bodies. Then he divided the remaining Jews into two groups and shot half of them again. He did the same thing three more times. When there were only four Jews left, he shot them and buried their bodies himself. There were still a few Jews left who were loading the clothes onto the carts, and M*** shot them. [...] The coachmen who were carrying clothes said that some Jews had to put the bodies in the pit before they were killed. After everyone had left, I approached and saw two filled-in pits, one small and one large. Before the shooting I saw the carts carrying the bodies of the Jews from Stare Misto to the shooting site. [...]"[Deposition of a witness Zakhari H, given to the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) on October 21, 1944; GARF 7021-75-10]

Historical note

Stare Misto is a village located 45 km (28 miles) southwest of Ternopil, in Western Ukraine. Prior to the war, only a single Jew lived in Stare Misto among Ukrainians and Poles. He was the owner of the tavern. The majority of Jews lived in the nearby city of Pidhaitsi, located 1.5 km (1mi) away. The first traces of a Jewish community in Pidhaitsi date back to the 15th century. It was very prosperous, especially in the 19th century, thanks to the favorable economic policies of the local government. Many important trade fairs were organized in Pidhaitsi. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 3,000 Jews lived in the city. During the interwar period, the area was integrated into Polish territory. In September 1939, the city was integrated into the USSR under the terms of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. On the eve of the war, out of 7,000 people living in Pidhaitsi, 3,200 were Jews.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Stare Misto was occupied by the Wehrmacht on July 4, 1941. As soon as the occupation began, the German authorities created a local Ukrainian auxiliary police in Pidhaitsi. They also established a Jewish council and a Jewish police force of about ten people. In the autumn of 1941, the Jews from Pidhaitsi and nearby villages, such as Stare Misto, Zahaitsi, and others, were first removed from their homes and relocated to the city center in small houses. In early 1942, this area was fenced off with barbed wire and turned into a ghetto. Between 4,000 and 6,000 Jews were confined there. In the summer of 1943, the liquidation of the Pidhaitsi ghetto began. On June 6 and 8, two mass shootings took place in the nearby villages of Stare Misto and Zahaitsi. In both cases, the Jews thought they were to be relocated,to the Ternopil ghetto,  for example, and so had taken their belongings with them. The German authorities requisitioned residents and their carts to help transport the Jews to the two shooting sites. In Stare Misto, this was in a field. Between 1,200 and 2,000 Jews were shot in this mass execution. The Jews were shot in small groups, naked, while standing on the plank that had been placed across the pit. There was one shooter who fired from a machine gun on tripod. Supposedly, some Jews, about 60, were left aside. They had to fill in the pit before being shot in their turn in another pit dug nearby. Moreover, an attempt to escape by some of the Jews present in the column led to the immediate shooting of a hundred people.

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