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Opening of a Holocaust Memorial in Murovani Kurylivtsi

Carmen Ullersma - 13 December 2018

Murovani Kurylivtsi is a small town south-west of the province of Vinnytsia (Ukraine). On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union (1941), about a thousand Jews lived in Murovani Kurylivtsi, which was a quarter of the population at that time.

Most young Jewish men were required to serve in the Red Army. Attempts by the Jews to evacuate to the east were mostly unsuccessful because of the rapid advance of the Germans.

On July 17, 1941 the town of Murovani Kurylivtsi was occupied by the Germans. For a few months, the control of the town was given to the Hungarian army. In the autumn of 1941 the Hungarians left and the Germans returned. The persecution of the Jews immediately increased. In November 1941, the Jews were concentrated into a ghetto that was located in the most neglected part of the town.

In August 1942, the Germans brought hundreds of Jews from surrounding settlements to the ghetto. On 21 August 1942, the Germans, with help of the Ukrainian police, gathered all the inhabitants of the ghetto on the market square just outside the ghetto. After a selection, about 120 young men and women were send back to the ghetto. All the others, about 2300 Jews, were not suited for work, and they were murdered on the edge of the ‘Bucheno forest’ just outside the city.

In September and October of 1942, the last inhabitants of the ghetto were murdered as well. Some Jews were held as forced labourers by the Germans until March 1944 and murdered in the last days of the German retreat, just before the liberation of Murovani Kurylivtsi by the Red Army on 24 March 1944.

The monument at the mass grave in Murovani Kurylivtsi

The monument, which was unveiled on 7 December 2018 by Christians for Israel, is located on a third mass grave, next to an old Jewish cemetery in Murovani Kurylivtsi. At this mass grave Jews were shot dead by a German commander over a longer period. He killed a few Jews each a time. The Jews were brought to him by the Ukrainian police, to a place where the policemen already dug a pit. The Jewish people had to undress and stand at the pit. According to Katarina Dimitrovna, the German commander was always present and usually he was the one who shot the Jews. The policemen covered the bodies with some earth.The Jews who were murdered here not only came from Murovani Kurylivtsi but also from surrounding villages.

Katarina Dimitrovna, the oldest resident of Murovani Kurylivtsi

Katarina Dimitrovna (born 1939) is the oldest resident of Murovani Kurylivtsi. According to her, Jews from the area were brought here because the German commander stayed in Murovani Kurylivtsi.

It is not known who is buried in this mass grave. Jews who were in hiding with Ukrainian families and were discovered were murdered in this mass grave along with the Ukrainians who had hidden them.

According to Katarina Dimitrovna, nothing grew on the mass grave for a long time. The people who lived near the Jewish cemetery during the war knew what tragedy was happening. Everyone who lived close and was a witness passed away.

Katarina Dimitrovna told Ivan Kazimir what she knew about the situation in Murovani Kurylivtsi during the war period. Ivan Kazimir is a member of the Jewish community in Vinnytsia. She also remembered conversations between her mother and older sister about the war. The conversation between Katarina Dimitrovna and Ivan Kazimir was the start of placing this memorial

Translation of the text: ‘The martyrs who were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust are buried here. May their memory be blessed.’

Information about Murovani Kurylivtsi can be found on www.yadvashem.org

 

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