Drobitsky Yar

The Germans occupied Kharkov in eastern Ukraine on October 23, 1941. The city remained during the whole war under military administration and not part of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine (Reichskommissariat Ukraine). This did not mean that the Jewish population was spared, but was assigned lower food rations than others and subjected to arbitrary violence, sometimes with fatal outcome. On November 14, several explosive devices exploded at various military headquarters in Kharkov. As a result, the Germans arrested about 1,000 people (including about 300 Jews) and imprisoned them in hotel International. On November 28, about 400 of those arrested, including all 300 Jews, were murdered at the hotel by Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C who had arrived in Kharkov on November 26.

Kharkov Jews were forced into an abandoned tractor factory about ten kilometres outside Kharkov in mid-December. The sheds that the Jews were forced to live in had no heat and no isolation, lack of food and other supplies led to an increased mortality during the cold winter. Already in the same month, the Nazis began the decommissioning of this temporary ghetto. Under the pretext of the Nazis searching for volunteer workers, about 800 Jews signed up. These were taken by truck instead to a ravine in the south-east of Kharkov called Drobitsky Yar where they were murdered by Sonderkommando 4a and other German and Ukrainian units. In December and January 1942, the remaining Jews were murdered in Drobitsky Yar. Some of the Jews were also murdered in gas wagons. A total of 16,000 Jews were murdered in Drobitsky Yar and the majority of those murdered were elderly, women and children. The men who were not murdered were moved to other places to be used as slave workers.

Current status: Museum/monument (2011).

Location: 49° 56'5.23 N, 36° 26'55.36 E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The site is not really a museum but more the character of a memorial. Under the main monument there is a small memorial hall with the names of about 4300 of those who were murdered. The site has not been exploited by either buildings or other devastation and there are a number of monuments in the area. Unfortunately, there is no information board about where the mass graves are located, which makes it difficult to orient yourself in the area. Only in 1956 a less obelisk was established in memory of the victims and the first time the Soviet media wrote an article about the place was according to the museum as late as 1988. The place is thanks to the persistent work of the Kharkov Charitable Fund very well managed which is not otherwise common at other similar places in Ukraine.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Holocaust in the Soviet union (2009).