Evidence on the Killing of Jews in Kharkov
(September 5, 1943)
On the Mass Shooting of Jews
by the German Murderers in the Drobitzki Valley
Kharkov, September 5, 1943
We, the undersigned, members of the Commission constituted as follows: Ilya Ivanovich Profatilov – Chairman of the District Commission for the determination and investigation of the crimes of the German-Fascist invaders and their collaborators; and the following members: Aleksander Ignatyevich Selivanov – Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City Council of Kharkov; Major General Nikolai Ivanovich Trufanov – the Military Commander of the city of Kharkov; the representatives of the Extraordinary Government Committees – Konstantin Alekseyevich Lebedev and Dmitri Ivanovich Kudryavtzev; Protoyerey (Senior Priest) of the Church of Pokrov – Ivan Yakovlevich Kamyshan; Representative of the Executive Committee of the City Council of Kharkov – Valentina Vasilyevna Karpenko; the professors – Aleksei Ivanovich Shevtzov, and Yevgeni Sevastyanovich Katkov, Ivan Vasilyevich Kudintzev, and Ivan Ivanovich Makletzov, compiled the present protocol, and these are its contents:
During the occupation of the city of Kharkov by the German-Fascist invaders the peaceful population was destroyed systematically, and the Jewish population was totally destroyed one by one. According to incomplete records, upwards of 15,000 Jewish residents of the city of Kharkov were shot during the months of December 1941 and January 1942 alone near the village of Rogan, 8 kms. from the city of Kharkov in the so-called valley of Drobitzki. This barbarity inflicted on innocent citizens was confirmed by evidence obtained from witnesses, from protocols by medical experts and from other reliable documents, and these barbarous acts were also confirmed at the place where they were committed by a member of the State Commission, Academy Member A.N. Tolstoy.
The German Military Commander of the city of Kharkov on December 14, 1941, issued an order according to which all the Jewish population of the city were required, within two days, to move to the huts of the Lathe Factory on the outskirts of the city. It was stated in the order that those failing to comply with these instructions would be shot.
In the huts into which all the Jews of the city were herded the doors and windows were broken, the water system and stoves destroyed. Hundreds of people were pushed into these huts, which had been intended to house 60-70 persons. The Germans starved the population in the ghetto that was set up and forbade them to go out to fetch water or find food. At night they were forbidden to leave the huts to relieve themselves. Anyone who infringed the regime in the least way was shot immediately. Many of the people fell sick and died. The corpses of the dead were left lying in the huts, and it was forbidden to take them out from there. The citizen Anna Yosifovna Chernenko-Nazvich, who succeeded in escaping from the camp, related the following:
"On December 28, 1941, in the evening, the Nazis burst into the huts, took out 60 persons and shot them on the spot. Shootings of this kind were a common occurrence."
According to the evidence of F.I. Kersten and A.F. Grigorova, the Germans continued to plunder the property of the occupants of the camp. Every day the Germans made demands that they be given warm clothing, watches and other valuables. If their demands were not fulfilled because the goods were not available, then the soldiers used to take out some tens of persons from the huts and shoot them. There were many who could not endure the systematic brutality and humiliation and lost their minds or committed suicide. One who lost her mind was Dr. Belyayevskaya, the wife of Prof. Mamutov, and others. Within the area of the ghetto there was a so-called "living grave," from which, after the killings, groans were heard coming from people who had been buried alive there. On December 26, 1941, the Germans announced that a list would be made of persons wishing to travel to Poltava, Romny and Kremenchug, noting that those who went would not be permitted to take any baggage at all with them. On the following day automobiles arrived outside the huts. The people understood this provokatzia and refused to get into the automobiles. The soldiers pushed them in by force and they were taken out of the camp. In the course of a few days the inmates of the ghetto were taken to the valley of Drobitzki by car or on foot, and there they were all shot. An eye-witness to the slaughter, from the village of Rogan, Anastasya Zakharovna Osmachko, said the following:
"When I learned of the murder of Soviet citizens by Germans in the valley of Drobitzki, on the morning of January 7, 1942, I went to see what was happening there together with my son Vladimir, aged 12, and another 11 people from the village. In the valley we discovered a pit several tens of meters long, ten meters wide and several meters deep. Many bodies of those who had been shot were piled up in the pit. When we had looked at the bodies we decided to go home. But we had not yet had time to leave the valley when three trucks arrived carrying German soldiers. The soldiers stopped us. They took us to the pit and one of them began to shoot at us with a machine-gun. When my son fell I fainted and fell into the pit. When I recovered I found myself lying on dead bodies. Later I heard the cries of women and children whom the Germans were bringing to the pit and shooting. The bodies of those who were shot fell into the pit where I lay.
"I was in the pit from morning until 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon and saw how, throughout the whole day, the Germans kept bringing groups of people to the pit and killing them. Before my eyes several thousand people were shot. They were Jews – men and children. When the Germans had finished the slaughter they left the place. From among the corpses groans and cries went up from the living wounded. About half an hour after the German soldiers had left the place I crawled out of the pit and ran home. My son and the other people who had come with me from the village had been shot."
The witnesses Chernenko-Nazvich, Anna Yosifovna, Daniil Aleksandrovich Serikov and Fyodor Lukyanovich Kovrizhko gave evidence that together with the shooting the German-Fascist invaders killed people, mainly children, by means of poison, and afterwards burned the bodies inside the camp huts. The witnesses F.I. Kersten and A.F. Grigorova and others gave evidence that in December 1941 the Germans put into the building of the synagogue on Meshchansky Street elderly Jews, the disabled and children, who remained in Kharkov and were unable to reach their new destination on foot; a large number of them froze to death and others died of hunger. Altogether 400 persons died in the synagogue building.
The Commission opened up two pits near the village of Rogan in the valley of Drobitzki, one of them 100 meters long and 18 to 20 meters wide, and the second 60 meters long and 20 meters wide. According to the findings of the Expert Medical Commission, upward of 15,000 bodies were buried in these pits (attached: the report of the Medico-Legal Commission). Five hundred bodies were removed from the pits, of which 215 were submitted to medico-legal examination. They included the bodies of 83 men, 117 women and 60 children and infants. It was established that the cause of death of almost all these persons whose bodies had been examined was a wound and hole in the back of the skull caused by the passage of a bullet. This indicated that the shooting was carried out from behind the person to be killed and from a short distance away.
The Commission considers the following responsible for the crimes committed against the peaceful population of the city of Kharkov: the former Commander of the Special Unit SK4 (Sonderkommando) of the Gestapo Hellenbruch, the Commander of Special Unit SK4 of the Gestapo Sturmbannfuehrer Willi Neumann, Deputy Commander Major Radetzki, Major Miller, who worked with the Gestapo, Under-officer Schneider, Gestapo interrogator Under-officer Falker, Gestapo assistant Under-officer Ostermann, Gestamember Captain Beuthen and Under-officer Franz Lovichko.
All these must suffer severe punishment for horrendous crimes committed against the Soviet people.
Chairman of the Commission, Ilya Ivanovich Profatilov
Members of the Commission: Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City Council of Kharkov, A.I. Selivanov
Major General N.I. Trufanov
Representatives of the Extraordinary State Committee K.A. Lebedev, D.I. Kudryavtzev
Arch-Priest of the Church of Pokrov I. Y. Kamyshan
Representative of the Executive Committee of the City Council of Kharkov, V.V. Karpenko
The professors: A.I. Shevtzov, I.V. Kudintzev, I.I. Makletzov, and Y.S. Katkov.
Dokumenty Obviniayut("Documents Accuse"), II, Moscow, 1945, pp. 307-309.
Source: Yad Vashem