Tomashovka (Tamachowka, Tomaszówka) | Brest

/ Anton K., born in 1923: “Later, when the Germans…the Jews didn’t have any gold left, they were told to hand over their valuables, earrings, rings and necklaces, everything they had.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Anton K., born in 1923: “We were told to go to the forest, cut the wood and transport it to Sobibor. I wasn’t alone, there were about ten carts.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum The Yahad team led by Father Desbois during an interview. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum Valentina B., born in 1930: “Shortly after the Germans arrived, the Jews from our village of Komarovka were arrested and taken to the ghetto in Tomashovka.” ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum The remaining tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in Tomashovka. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum The remaining tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in Tomashovka. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum The execution site of several hundred Jews murdered in Tomashovka in September 1942.©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews in Tomashovka

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Anti-tank trench
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Anton K., born in 1923: "There were four of us, two young ones, like me, and two older ones. It was because of the work. For 10 days... The soltys [head of the village] said that we had to work for 10 days and that he would send the others to replace us. We ended up working and someone denounced us. Back then there were even more servants than today. At that moment people were gathered at the school and immediately the four of us were taken and placed in front of the wall of the school where the foundations were rather high. They wanted to shoot us. There was a German who spoke Russian very well. I don’t know if he was German, but he spoke Russian very, very well. There was another German... Both of them were dressed in long work jackets. We were told that we were saboteurs for the Germans and that we didn’t want to work. We, we... as soon as we tried to say that we had been ordered to work only ten days, we were... (witness shows how he was beaten). Even today you can see the marks (witness points to his temple). I was hit... probably the person was wearing a glove, I don’t know. I couldn’t eat for a week. My mother told me that I had to eat but I said I couldn’t because I was in pain. I ran home very quickly. I was only 16…” (Witness n°127B, interviewed in Tomashovka, on April 5, 2009)

Soviet archives

"In July 1942, German officers and soldiers led a column of civilians of all ages (including infants) out of the Tomashovka ghetto towards the field [illegible] where an anti-tank ditch was located. The column numbered at least 900 people. They were made to strip naked and lay down in the ditch in groups of 50 and shot in the back of the neck. Then, they forced the [local] inhabitants who were at the scene of the execution to bury the bodies. After that, another 50 people were shot. The execution was carried out by the SD gendarmes, whose chief was a German Hauptmann (I don’t know his name); there were thirty-two of them guarding the column and twelve Germans were shooting. The torturers were 44 in all, armed with machine guns and submachine guns. They brought the clothes of the victims back to Tomashovka and sold them at the market. The day after this mass execution, a second column of Soviet citizens consisting of 400 Jews, including women, children and old people were taken from the Tomashovka ghetto to the site. This column was escorted by eighteen German SD soldiers and gendarmerie and there were nine men, Russians [illegible] under the command of the same Hauptmann. The victims were forced to lay down in the same way inside the pit and shot." [Deposition of Vasilii P., born in 1907, given to the Soviet State Extraordinary Commission in the spring 1945; GARF 7021-84-1/Copy RG-22.002M]

German archives

“The Jews were then brought from the village to a part of the forest outside the village and they were shot the same day (…). All the Jews living in the ghetto were shot outside the town of Tomashovka, 1.5 km southeast of the town, 500 meters on the right side of the Wlodawa-Brest road. At the time, there was an anti-tank ditch there”. [B162-7879 (p.35)]

Historical note

Tomashovka is in western Belarus, just on the eastern side of the Bug River, on the border with Ukraine and Poland. It is located about 50 km (31mi) south of Brest and 25 km (15mi) of Domachevo. The earliest mention of Tomashovka dates back to the 18th century, when it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, the town became part of the Russian Empire. It became Polish territory again between 1921 and 1939 under the Second Polish Republic. Jews first settled in Domachevo in the late 18th century. By the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population was thriving. They had a synagogue and a cemetery. Jews mostly worked as merchants and artisans. In 1897, about 90% of the total population was Jewish. On the eve of the war a few hundred Jews lived in Tomashovka. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Tomashovka was occupied by German forces on June 22, 1941. Shortly after the German arrival, all the Jews were marked with yellow badges. In the fall of 1941, a closed ghetto was established in the western part of the village, on the grounds of former military settlement. The ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded. The Jews were not allowed to leave its territory unless they were taken for forced labor, such as road, house and bridge construction. In the early summer of 1942, circa. 500 Jews from Vienna were transferred from the Wlodawa ghetto to Tomashovka for forced labor, as part of Todt Organization.  According to some sources, the executions took place in April 1942. According to one source, about 80 Jews, mainly women, children and elderly people were shot outside the village along with 50 Jewish workers from Vienna. Another shooting, this time most probably of the Domachevo Jews, was conducted in the field outside Tomashovka. There is different information according to the date when the ghetto was liquidated. According to the Soviet archives it was liquidated in July 1942, while German archives and testimonies of eyewitnesses, included those interviewed by Yahad, stated it was in September 1942. It is possible that in July 1942 it was a shooting of the about 500 skilled workers brought Domachevo ghetto for the Kovel-Brest Road construction. The Tomashovka ghetto was liquidated on September 20, 1942, a day after the liquidation of the Domachevo ghetto, by the same SD unit and gendarmerie. The victims were killed in the same anti-tank ditch as those murdered in April 1942. Before being killed, the victims were forced to strip naked and climb down into the ditch. It was impossible to establish how many Jews were killed in Tomashovka due to transfer of inmates from one ghetto to another, and no records of those transfers. According to estimates, about 2,900-3,000 Jews were killed in Domashevo and Tomashovka. Today, there is a memorial at the shooting site.

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