Yalta | Crimea

Jewish community of Yalta. ©dbs.bh.org.il/place/yalta / Zinayida C., born in 1910: “I saw a woman. I still keep her face in mind. She leaned against the window. I asked: “where are they taking you?” She said: “They’re taking us to the shooting”    © Guillaume Ribot  /Yahad-In Unum Yahad’s team during an interview.   © Guillaume Ribot  /Yahad-In Unum At this place several hundreds Jews were murdered on December 17, 1941. © Guillaume Ribot  /Yahad-In Unum The monument in the memory of 1,500-2,00 Jewish victims murdered by Nazi during the occupation. The monument is located close to the ravine where the Jews were shot.© Guillaume Ribot  /Yahad-In Unum The Yalta conference was held here on February 4–11 1945.It was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union . © Guillaume Ribot  /Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Yalta

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Cliff (1); 4th ravine (2)
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:

Witness interview

Zinayida C., born in 1910: “My father had a Jewish friend who was confined into the ghetto. He went to visit him rather often [until the day when he was taken away]. When my father got sick it was me who had to bring some food there. The Jews could walk freely on the streets, but they were obliged to sleep in the ghetto. The last three days before the shooting they were not allowed to leave the ghetto.” (Witness N°130, interviewed in Yalta, on January 8, 2006).

Soviet archives

« My family was moved to the ghetto on December 3. In the ghetto they continued to rob the Jews. […] Every day I brought food to my family. On December 18, 1941 at about 8 a.m. I approached the ghetto for the last time. Standing on the platform I saw the ghetto yard filled with people. On the left side there was a column of men, on the right side there were women and children. Altogether there were about 800 people. Outside the gates a group of Germans was rushing around the trucks. The men were seated in trucks covered with black canvas, the women and children were seated in big buses with glass windows. […] The Jews from the ghetto were taken to the 4th ravine and were shot to death at the edge of the ravine. The little children were given some kind of poison to smell. » [Deposition of Alexander P., given to the Soviet Extraordinary Commission, June 30, 1944; RG.22-002M : Fond 7021, Opis 9, Delo 59]

German archives

“As usual, it was explained to future victims that they would be deported. From what I remember, the entire Kommando was involved in the execution except for those who were patrolling the streets and cooking. The execution occurred by the use of pistols. The execution Kommando consisted of 20-25 men altogether, as far as I can remember. […] The victims were gathered at least 50 m away from the execution site and were escorted from there to the execution site in small groups. Those who waited could not see the execution site that was hidden from them with trucks. They could hear the Kommando’s gunfire. The victims were taken from the ghetto to the execution site by truck. […] The victims had to line up facing the ravine. They were shot in the nape of the head by the Komando’s shooters standing an arm’s length away. [Deposition letter of Paul Z., SS-Obersturmbannführer, Sonderkommando 11a commander, Munich, Germany, on January 10, 1968, BArch B162-1004, p.48].

Historical note

Yalta is a port city in the southern Crimea located about 80 km south of Simferopol. The Tsar family had their winter palace in Livadiya, located near the town. As a result Jewish residence was restricted. From 1837 to 1860 Jews were forbidden to live there at all. Between 1860 and 1893 the prohibition was lifted, but from 1893 the sick persons who had been sent there for convalescence, were expelled. According to the 1897 census, 1,025 Jews inhabited Yalta. This number rose up to 2,353 by 1926. In the 1920’s, several Jewish agricultural colonies were established around the city. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trade. Those who lived in the colonies were farmers.  Others were craftsmen. In 1939, the Jewish community numbered 2,060 making up only 6% of Yalta’s entire population. On the eve of the German occupation, approximately 1,000 Jews managed to leave the city.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Yalta was occupied on November 8, 1941. Soon after the occupation, under a German order a Judenrat was created and all the Jews were registered and marked with distinctive yellow badges in form of a Star of David. The first mass shooting took place on November 21, 1941. On this day, about 15 Jews were taken to the Massandra vineyards where they were shot and their bodies were buried in a pit. According to the Soviet archives, two wounded men survived and managed to return to Yalta. Later, one of them was caught by a Sonderkommando 11a and shot dead.

In late November 1941, a ghetto was established. All the Jews were moved to the ghetto on December 5. It was located on the outskirts of the city near the wine cell. According to the witnesses, it was fenced in with barbed wire. The Jews could leave the ghetto between early hours and 2 p.m. The ghetto was guarded by local police.  On December 17, 1941, the second mass execution occurred and it lasted for 2 days. The first day, Jewish men were taken to the ravine near the vineyards and forced to dig the trenches. The following day, the 1,500 remaining Jews, including the Judenrat members, were loaded onto trucks and buses and taken to the ravine to be shot. Supposedly, men separated from women and children were taken to the site by truck. The victims were first forced to undress, then, in groups of five they lined up at the edge of the ravine, with their face to it, and the shooters from Sonderkommando 11a fired at their backs. According to Yahad’s witness and Soviet archives, the Jewish children were poisoned with a liquid product which the Germans smeared under their lips. The isolated shooting of those Jews who were found in hiding continued throughout 1942. According to different historical sources, between 1,500  to 2,000 Jews altogether were killed during the occupation.

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