Kamjanets – Podolskyj

In southwestern Ukraine lies the city of Kamjanets-Podolskyj and there lived at the outbreak of the second world war about 14,000 Jews. On July 11, 1941, the city was occupied by German and hungarian troops and after a few days the first Jews were murdered. The Germans imposed a local government of ultranational ukrainians who promptly imposed anti-Jewish regulations and acts. It was also set up in early August a smaller ghetto in the old part of the city. In July and August 1941, 10,000 Jews were deported to Kamjanets-Podolskyi from a border area in western Ukraine called Transcarpatien. First, these Jews were put in an old fort to later be moved to the same ghetto as the local jews.

The large number of Jews meant that the German military authorities could not support them. Therefore, the chief police officer in the area, SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Friedrich Jeckeln, proposed that the Jews be murdered. On August 26, 1941, the Hungarian jews were asked to leave the ghetto on the pretext that they would be transported further. Instead, they were taken to an old ammunition depot north of the city where they were forced to surrender their possessions, undress and run to large pits where they were shot by German police forces.

During the next two days, local Jews were also murdered in the same place. A total of 23,000 Jews were murdered in three days. This makes the action in Kamjanets-Podolskyi the first action involving a five-digit number of victims. About 5,000 Jews were spared by the Germans because they were needed for slave labor and put into a new ghetto just west of the old ghetto. In the summer of 1942, about 800 Jewish children and the elderly were murdered at the Jewish cemetery. In late october, early november, 1942 the remaining jews were murdered in the ghetto. A total of 30,000 Jews were murdered in Kamjanets-Podolskyi.

Current status: Monument (2019).

Location: 48°42'01.75"N 26°34'10.10"E (mass grave).

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Kamjanets-Podolskyi is in my opinion a historical heavyweight because it was there that the Nazi assassination units carried out the first five-digit murder action. This did not mean that the site became a prototype for how the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews would take place. But its scope gave it, in my opinion, a central place in the Holocaust. Yet it is less remembered than, among other things, the actions of Babi Yar and Riga.

I have had Kamjanets-Podolskyj on the radar for about ten years, but its geographical location and the transport issue were always putting obstacles in the way. Did not make it easier when the GPS network in Ukraine did not have full coverage and to go out into the Ukrainian countryside without GPS was nothing that attracted. But just recently (written in 2019), Ukraine came to be covered by full coverage on the GPS network and completely new opportunities appeared. All of a sudden, Kamjanets-Podolskyi was within reach.

Another problem I encountered over the years was the location of the monuments. I knew what they looked like from photographs, but I decided where they were. Only about six months ago, with the help of Google Earth, did I manage to locate the monuments and other significant places. As a city, Kamjanets-Podolsky surprised me and is much more modern than I had imagined. Likewise, the monuments which, although several of them are erected during the Soviet era, are well-managed, easy to find and are within what are now integrated quieter parts of the city.

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