Vakhnivka (Vakhnovka, Vachnivka, Vachnovka, Wachnowka, Vichnifka) | Vinnytsia 

/ Local ambaince © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Old Jewish cemetery, abandoned today. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum At this place used to be a synagogue. The building doesn’t exist anymore ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yuzefa I., born in 1927 : "A Jewish man escaped, completely naked, from the column, and came into my house. He hit on the window and asked for help. My family gave him clothes, food and hid him for a month in the attic". ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Stepan P. born in 1924 : « During the execution, there were 2 cases of escaping, in the forest : two naked men but they have been caught the same day and killed. People said that after, the blood flowed from there. » ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Vira K., born in 1934:«I saw that the Jews were brought from the center of the city to the forest. There were some cars and carts following the column. Then, I heard the sound of guns.» ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Witness leading Yahad team to the execution site ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Former church, transformed into a club, where Jews were gathered before the first execution. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Maria K., born in 1934 : « The day following the execution, I went to the cemetery. I saw the covered pit but it was already possible to see the place. The pit had swollen and the blood bubbled like the dough. » ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Yahad-In Unum’s team interviewing the witness n° 2139 on the first execution site. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Diagram of the execution site in Vakhnivka © Yahad-In Unum Mass grave in the old Jewish cemetery where the 50 last Jews were killed. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Mass grave and the memorial, where about 300 or 400 Jews were killed and buried. ©Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Vakhnivka

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Field close to the forest/Jewish cemetery
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
300 (413)/50

Witness interview

Maria K., born in 1934, remembers the day of the shooting: « I remember that before the second Aktion when the Jews were taken to be shot at the cemetery, a starosta came to see my parents. He told them to lock up all children at home, because there would be a round-up in the village. That was done on purpose in order not to mix the Jewish population with non-Jews. However, on this day all the villagers who lived on our street went out of their homes to watch what would happen. My mother and I, along with some neighbors hid behind the bushes not far away from the road by which the Jews were taken to the shooting site. I remember that it was in summer and the Jews were dressed lightly. They were taken there from the very morning. There were women, men, elder people and children in the column. All walked calmly, but they weren’t arranged like soldiers. It was a crowd of people which moved slowly by the road, followed by the guards. Apparently, they were taken from the center of the town towards the Jewish cemetery.” (Testimony n° 2142 interviewed on November 04, 2016)

Soviet archives

“At about 10 a.m., all the 413 citizens were brought to the execution site. Among the people arrested, there were 100 children, 150 women and 60 men. On the road, Germans began to abuse them: they beat them up and even killed 2 people. It is impossible to describe all of that. When we arrived, Germans and policemen ordered the fathers and mothers to undress themselves and do the same with their families, even 4 – 5 years old children. Fathers and their families lay under the armed threat inside the pit, 10 people by row and executioner shot them. Ten other people laid on them and were shot. All the 413 people were killed in the same pit. My wife and my daughter Nina, aged four, were shot in front of my eyes. And I was freed. Toddlers were thrown alive into the pit. I saw it personally. For a while after the shooting, the pit continued to move because almost the halves of the victims were buried alive. They weren’t shot dead, but only wounded.” [Deposition of Dmitri O., a local villager, Ukrainian, made to State extraordinary commission. RG22-022M: Fond 7021, opis 54, delo 1254]

Historical note

Vakhnivka is located 32 km northeast off Vinnytsia and 20 km away from Lypovets. The records about the first Jewish community dates back of the middle of 18th century. According to the census 1926, 2,101 Jews lived in Vakhnivka. They mostly lived in the center. The majority of them owned stores, others lived off of handcrafts.  There was a Jewish kolkhoz close to nearby village Yasenky. But, Jews didn’t work there; they paid Ukrainians to do it. Between them, Jews spoke their own language. There were Jewish and Ukrainians schools, but there were cases when Jewish children went to Ukrainian school.  There was a synagogue but it was closed under the Soviet rule in 1920s-1930s.  There was also a catholic and a Ukrainian church. There were 2 Jewish cemeteries. In the older one, some Germans had been buried during the war and the newest was an execution site for Jews. The village was occupied by the German army in late July 1944. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From the beginning of the occupation until June 1942, the Jews continued to live in their houses. They were marked and most likely subjected to forced labor. 

On June 3 or May (depending on the sources), of 1942, all Jews, including those brought from Lypovets, were gathered in a former catholic church prior to be taken to the shooting. During the night, about 20 men were taken to dig the pits in which they were shot shortly after. The following day, at 10 or 11 am, all the detainees were brought to the execution site located south east off the town, close to the forest and the lake. According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, before being shot, all the Jews were forced into the lake where they remained guarded by the police. Then they were brought in groups of ten from the lake to the pit, dug 70 or 100 m away from the lake by 4 or 5 men in advance.  Before getting inside the pit they had to undress and put their clothes on carts. Once in the pit, they were forced to lay down facing the ground, -the method is known as « Sardinenpackung », and a German fired at them one by one with a gun. Once one group was shot, another group got inside the pit and lay over the bodies of the previous group. When the pit was almost full, the five last Jews covered the pit leaving room. At the end, they were also shot and the policemen covered the pit completely.  The execution was conducted by SD unit which arrived from Lypovets or Vinnytsa with the help of local police. The local villagers were requisitioned for different tasks, like to dig the pits or to transport the clothing from the site. The second Aktion was conducted 10 days after when 50 Jews were rounded-up and brought to the Jewish cemetery where they were exterminated in the same way. In all, according to different sources, 350 to 463 Jews were killed in Vakhnivka.

 For more information about the execution of the Lypovets Jews please refer to the corresponding profile. 


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