(Courtesy- “Berditschew”the film by Michael Shcmerschneider)On the 15th of September, 1941, the Ghetto in Berditschew was evacuated.
Long rows of approximately 18,600 Jews were moved to the airport, four kilometres away. Children and the elderly were transported in trucks and shot in groups of 40 at the edge of the pits. Some of the victims survived and tried to escape from the mass graves. Farmers from Radjanskoje arrived the following morning to discover their fields covered with bodies.
Testimonies of neighbours:
|Nadja Petrivna Gontscharuk, Berditschew 2008:
“It was Monday…
…my mother came home crying and said that Jews were being shot only 300 metres from our house. Thousands were standing in a line with no end in sight. Adults held children by the hand or in their arms. At first they didn’t know that they were being taken away to be shot, that’s why so many carried bags with food or belongings with them. Later, everything would be thrown away………It was terrible…it’s already so long ago and sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I remember this day and relive it all over again. Many were still alive and the earth moved long after the shooting. Das es Gott erbarm…..(and they say there’s a God!)………I remember very well how they were led to the pit and shot. They stood at the edge and fell in. The large number of Fascists herded them there in groups. The younger ones went without hesitation, crying and sobbing, es sei von gott… its God will!……Nobody visited the burial site after the war ended, the Jews were annihilated. Olja, my sister, told me about her Jewish friend. She saw her that day but could not help….…”
|Elena Andrejewna Latyk, Berditschew 2008:”I was still young…our war prisoners dug very deep trenches at the airport runway. The Germans always came to our village to get milk, we asked them, why such deep trenches? ” „Broken Jews!“, was their answer.We were sitting on top of a haystack and we saw how small children were thrown into the pit, still alive. The adults were shot. A boy, about 17, tried to escape, the Fascists caught him and killed him with their bayonets.There were too many people to count. The worst part was seeing how they threw the small children into the pit. Babies were also torn from their mothers and thrown in. It took from midday until evening.The pit moved a lot because there were still some people alive inside. Later, the prisoners covered up the pits. Really awful…..after three days the earth still moved”
|Oleksej Oleksejewitsch Sawtschuk, Berditschew 2008:”Right after the war started they began to kill the Jews. …I saw it all with my own eyes, how they herded the Jews like cattle….they shot them with machine guns….there were so many; the line began in the city and ended at the pits….…”
|Nadeshda Andrejewna Iwanowa, Berditschew 2008:”We had just eaten lunch when we saw people from the city go by in lines with some cars following behind. Children and the elderly were being driven in the cars. Rumour had it: Jews were being murdered. Nobody could help them.The awful screams of the Jews could be heard, even from our farm. Later, you could only hear the sound of gunfire. We couldn’t see how they were shot from our farm; we only saw the lines pass by.They were told they were going to work. Many held a small bag with clothes or their children in their arms. We were told later that the children were grabbed by an arm or a leg and thrown into the pit, still alive”.
Stanislav Baginskij, BürgermeiStanislav Baginskij, Bürgermeister Radanskoje 2008:
“In Radjanskoje, there are four graveyards and another one in Welikopjaogorsk.”
“There used to be a gravel path to the graveyards before, then it was ploughed up by inadvertence or by botching. At the moment there is no path just a small memorial stone of black granite……”
As children, the inhabitants of Radanskoje were witness to the mass execution/massacre. The small village of Radanskoje lies 4 kilometres from Berditschew at the edge of a one-time airport runway.
On the 15th of September, 1941, the people (of Berditschew) walked through the village to the mass execution pit, which was extremely close to the village!
Their eye witness accounts tell of the brutality and systematic (Perfiden) of the German death squads.