1 Execution site(s)
Varvara P., born in 1933: "I saw the execution with others curious children. We were up on a little hill. There was a pile of soil right next to the pit. The Jews went up and the Germans fired at them. The bodies fell down into the pit. And then another group of twenty people had to go up to be shot." (Witness n°189B, interviewed in Kozhan Horodok, on August 8, 2009)
"Near the village of Kozhan-Horodok, the Commission discovered a grave (12x4x3 meters) next to the east side of the Jewish cemetery. 937 people, including 325 women and 301 children were buried there." [Act drawn up in 1945 by the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission (GARF) in 1945; GARF 7021-84-5/Copy USHMM RG-22.002M]
Kozhan-Horodok is a town located 5 km (3 miles) west of Lakhva and 242 km (150mi) east of Brest. The first records of the Jewish community date back to mid-17th century. The town had been part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but following the Third Partition of Poland around 1795, it was absorbed into the Russian Empire. In 1921, the town was included in the territory of the Second Polish Republic, and in September 1939 it was taken over by the Soviets following the Molotov Ribbentrop agreement. According to the 1897 census, there were 1,597 Jews in Kozhan-Horodok. In 1921 they represented about 30% of the total population, with 783 Jews recorded as living in the town. Trade was main occupation of the Kozhan-Horodok Jews, and many of them were artisans and skilled workers. The Jewish community had a cemetery and three synagogues, and the Hasidism movement was active in the town. It is estimated that about 800 Jews remained in the town on the eve of the war.
Kozhan-Horodok was occupied by German forces in early July, 1941. Sometime in the early spring of 1942, the Germans set up a Jewish ghetto, and all the Jews of the area were moved into it. According to estimates, circa. 950 Jews were confined in the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated in a single Aktion on the night of September 2– 3, 1942, at the same time as the Lakhva ghetto. During the Aktion, all the Jews were taken to the Jewish cemetery to be shot. The Aktion was conducted by the German gendarmerie and Police Battalion 306 who assisted in cordoning off the ghetto along with the local police. Before being killed, the victims had to go down the slope into the pit and were shot there in groups of twenty. According to eyewitnesses, the Jews were shot fully dressed. A group of Roma who had camped in the town at this moment were also killed by the Germans. Local people were requisitioned to dig and fill in the pits for both Aktions. Today, there is a memorial at shooting site in the Jewish cemetery, but there is none for the Roma victims.
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