The Holocaust swept into Dzygivka with the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
The area of Ukraine in which Dzygivka was located was the southernmost portion of the front line. It bordered on Romania, a member of the Axis alliance.
German troops came in preceded by waves of aerial bombardment. The German units were fast-moving Panzers who moved relentlessly eastward. The administration of occupied Ukraine was overseen by Germans with support from their Romanian allies. An area called "Transnistria" was established on the eastern bank of the Dniester River. Tens of thousands of Jews were interned there, many of them moved there from elsewhere.
Dzygivka was in Transnistria. It was turned into a concentration camp of sorts, a ghetto. It was not a site of mass killing or extermination, rather it was a place where casual murder was common, and starvation and disease took a separate grim toll.
Yad Vashem has an entry on Dzygivka. This entry has three links, one of which is in Hebrew. The translation, provided by Rena Borow of the Jewish Theological Seminary:
On the eve of the German invasion of the USSR, there were fewer than 1,000 Jews in Dzygovka. During the Russian civil war (1918-1920) Jews were plagued by pogroms and many left the town. In the early 1920's most Jews made their living in agriculture, some in trade and manufacturing. Under Soviet rule, Jewish agricultural cooperatives were formed. In the mid-1920's a Jewish administrative authority which conducted its business in Yiddish was established, as well as a Yiddish school. The Germans entered Dzygovka on July 18, 1941 and within a few days the Jews were rounded up into a ghetto. On September 1, 1941 the town was annexed and came under Romanian rule. 100 or so Jews from Bukovina and Bessarabia were transferred into the ghetto. Jews were forced into slave labor and a group was conscripted for bridge building in Nikolaev. When the town was liberated in mid-1944, a few hundred Jews remained.
Yad Vashem has a map showing Dzygivka as the site of a ghetto. [Scroll to page 7.]
Yad Vashem also will provide a listing of names of Holocaust victims from Dzygivka. Enter Dzygivka, Ukraine in the box marked "Permanent Place of Residence or Birthplace" then click Search.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has links to additional testimonies from Dzygivka.
In the heart-rending book "Holocaust in the Ukraine," edited by Boris Zabarko, published by Vallentine Mitchell and part of The Library of Holocaust Testimonies there is a testimony from Mikhail Burd of Dzygivka, who was born in 1932. It is a two-page memoir of the ghetto entitled "A lot could be recalled but the memory is very painful."
Also worth consulting is the Holocaust section of the Yampol KehilaLinks website, which contains photos of the Transnistrian deportation.
According to the book The Destruction of the Jewish Population of the Ukraine in 1941-44 some 450,000 Jews were killed in the onslaught from June 22, 1941 to December 31, 1941. In 1942, another 726,000 died. In total, 1.4 million Jews were murdered in the Ukraine.
When the compiler of this website visited Ukraine in 1996, he spoke with Ida, his first cousin once removed.
I asked Ida her memories of the war. She was in the Dzygivka ghetto with Joseph and Sarah, her mother and father. She remembered the Rumanian commandant as an old man who didn’t want trouble, and who didn’t need to impress the Germans by killing Jews. Dzygivka was a small, out-of-the-way place. The current nearby highway hadn’t been built. The railway was some miles away. The village’s remoteness and obscurity saved the Jewish inhabitants if they did not venture beyond the ghetto walls.There was clearly horrendous brutality in Dzygivka, as Burd's memoir attests. Ida's aunt was herself murdered by German soldiers when she ventured out of the ghetto to see what had become of her home in the nearby shtetl of Yampol.
Because Dzygivka was a relatively “safe” ghetto, thousands of Jews sought refuge there. Four or five families would live in a single small house.