Compiled by Martin Davis © 2010- 2017
The remains of the Kamenets Tailors’ Synagogue after the Second World War. The Old Synagogue complex (which should be to the right of the Honchar Tower) appears completely destroyed.

The Nazi Invasion of Kamenets

The Germans entered the town on July 11, 1941 and immediately placed formal restrictions on the Jews of the area. A ghetto was established on July 20 and local Kamianets-Podilskyi Jews, 11,000 Hungarian Jews plus others from Czechoslovakia, Poland and Holland were by then resident in the area, having been deported from their home countries. Initially, the large number of Hungarian Jewish people were spread out among the Jews of Kamianets-Podilskyi and the nearby towns. As the few survivors relate, the Hungarian Jews were received with open arms and the local Jews shared their meagre rations and their living-quarters with them. The public buildings including the synagogues and schools were made available to the deportees by the local Jews [1].  A ghetto was erected in the summer of 1941 and when it was established, tens of thousands of Jews from the city and the entire area (including the Hungarian Jews) were concentrated there. The first and biggest mass-murder of the Shoah (Holocaust) was carried out on 27-28 August, 1941 (4-5 Elul 5701), in a forest clearing near Kamenets. In those two days, 23,600 men, women and children were murdered. Eye-witnesses reported that the perpetrators made no effort to hide their actions from the local population. The massacre was begun on 27 August by the SS mobile extermination units of Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, Higher SS and Police Leader (Höhere SS - und Polizeiführer) of the region. During the operation, a Hungarian military convoy rode through the city. Most of the drivers were Jewish. One of them, Gábor Mermelstein, heard gunshots. When he was informed about the massacre from weeping local women, he drove further towards the forest near the city: "We saw hundreds of people undressing there ... we were passing a row of maple trees-practically over the mess of naked corpses ... suddenly we glanced at a square- shaped ditch, at all four sides of which people were standing. Hundreds of innocent people were machine- gunned down. I'll never forget what I saw and felt: the scared faces, the men, women and children marching into their own graves without resistance. I felt fear, outrage and pain simultaneously." The Jewish drivers watched the massacre crying. A German officer tried to calm them down as follows: "Don't worry, there are enough Jews left in the world."[3] Jeckeln's soldiers murdered 23,600 men, women and children, of which 10,000-15,000 Jews had been deported from Hungary [4].

The Final Murders

After the procedural murder of the majority of the Jewish people living in Kamenets, the remaining Jews with specified skills, from the town and from neighbouring settlements, were concentrated in a labour camp within the ghetto. In January 1942, a further 4,000 people were murdered and sometime later 500 children (aged 4–8) were murdered; in January 1943 another group of 2,500 people were executed and the final group of 2,000 Jewish people were killed in February 1943. “The most tragic page in the history of the Kamenets Jews came with World War II . The Kamenetskoy Commission, [established after 1945] to investigate crimes of the Nazi invaders, discovered seven mass graves for the Jews [in the area], including a grave with the bodies of 500 children” [5].
A Hungarian military unit travelling through Kamianets Podilskyi on 18-19 August 1941 recorded the terrible situation of the deportees: "There are several Jews here, especially women, they are in rags, but they ask for bread wearing jewellery and with lips painted red. They would give any money for it. Some count their steps with the desperation shown on their faces, others are crawling on the road collapsed from exhaustion and hunger. Some others bandage the wounds on their feet with rags torn from their clothes ... The Jewish quarter of the city is full of Jews, there are many from Budapest among them: they live in unspeakable and indescribable dirt, they come and go in scanty attire, the streets stink, unburied dead bodies are lying in some houses. The water of the Dneister is infected, here and there corpses are washed out to the bank."[2]

The First Nazi Mass Murder

The overwhelming majority of the Jews of the ghetto were murdered at the end of August, 1941. This was done slyly. They were told that it was decided to remove the Jews from Kamianets Podilskyi and that they have to be taken elsewhere. Surrounded by Hungarian soldiers from the pioneer unit, German S.S. men, and Ukrainian conscripts, they were led 15 kilometres on foot over an area strewn with bomb-craters. They were commanded to undress and group by group were placed into the cross-fire of machine-guns. Many were buried alive.


Yahad-In Unum Kamyanets Podilskyi Web page from Yahad-In Unum (led by Father Patrick Desbois); featuring testimony (17 witnessesin total) and an interactive map project (“yahadmap”) for Kamyanets Podilskyi. The Holocaust by Bullets - Shoah Memorial Memorial de la Shoah The Holocaust of Jewish Marmaros Translated by Moshe A. Davis The German Gendamerie, the Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft and the ‘Second Wave’ of Jewish Killings in Occupied Ukraine: German Police at the Local Level in the Zhitomir  Region,1941-1944. Martin C Dean (Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit, Scotland Yard). In German History Volume 14 Issue 2. Published by Oxford Journals (Oxford University Press).


[1] Kaminits-Podolsk and its Environs Randolph. Ed Abraham Rosen and others. Published by the Avotaynu Foundation Inc.  Bergenfield NJ. Published 1999. [2]  A második világháború. (The Second World War.) Ungváry Krisztián (ed.). Budapest, 2005. Osiris. pp. 177-178. See also protocol  447. [3] A népirtás politikája - a Holocaust Magyarországon.  (The Politics of Genocide. The Holocaust in Hungary.) Randolph L. Braham. Vols. 1-2. Budapest, 1997, Belvárosi Könyvkiadó.Braham 1996, pp. 15-16. [4] The politics of genocide: the Holocaust in Hungary By Randolph L. Braham. Published by the United States Holocaust Museum. Chapter 2, pp. 33 and 34 [5] Kamenets Old Town by Anna Kavilsha. Published 2002
A secret photo, taken by a Hungarian Jewish lorry driver, of Jews being marched through Kamenets prior to their mass murder by Hungarian soldiers and the German military police, which they undertook alongside the locally established Gendamerie (Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft) and SS troops. The Hungarian soldiers and the German military police also supervised prisoners digging their graves.
A   Yellow   Star   from   an   armband   of   the type   that   Jewish   people   were   forced to wear in the ghettoes of the Ukraine.
According to official Soviet Russian data, the Nazis murdered a total of more than 40,000 Jews at Kamenets Podolsk. From an article by Benyamin Lukin  
Holocaust survivor Bina Teneblat, born in Kamenets-Podolsk in 1928, testifies to Yad Vashem about the mass murder of the Jews in Kamenets-Podolsk. Tenenblat recounts her personal experiences during the roundup and shooting, and tells how she managed to survive the massacre.

Report of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission (ChGK)

The following report of the ChGK from May 13, 1944 contains a description of the mass murder of the Jews in Kamenets-Podolsk: From the testimony of Ksenia Prodanchuk, who was born in 1925:  “In 1941, in September, I do not remember the exact date, but it was on a Wednesday morning, Germans from the killing unit were taking a group of 8,000 defenseless Hungarians [Jews], who came to us in Kamenets-Podolsk from Hungary. They walked in rows of four and had their children with them or carried them in their arms, heading toward the road to [the town of] Dunaevtsy. These Hungarians were surrounded by a German killing unit. Soon afterwards I heard shots from automatic weapons and terrible, penetrating cries of the people that was like an inhuman roar. I did not see how the Hungarians were shot. Later in the evening, when shots were no longer heard, Germans from the killing unit took back [to the city] at gun point ten girls and four men. All of them were terrified. On the second day, Thursday, once again a crowd of 18,000 peaceful inhabitants of Kamenets-Podolsk was passing our house in the direction of the road to Dunaevtsy. Among them I saw a neighbor who used to live in the same courtyard as I did, a certain Mrs. Shvartsman, her husband, their daughters Liza and Basya, and their relatives, who went arm-in-arm, silently, without uttering a sound, their heads lowered toward the ground. Liza, who saw me, waved to me and shouted: "Senia, we are lost." The old people who could not move and lagged behind were beaten to death by Germans, afterwards they were picked up by carts that followed, loading 20-30 people into each cart and transporting them, as I know, to the shooting site. I could not believe that the German monsters would shoot the civilian population, but was soon convinced that they could.
Together with my neighbor, Sonia Kotlyamchuk, I hid behind the moving population and ran in the direction of Dembitsky village; we both stayed hidden in the bushes. Although this was far away, I could see how the children, women, and men were forced to undress and to jump into the grave in groups of 10. Some of them resisted since they did not want to undress. They were beaten with rifle butts, stabbed with bayonets and, dragged by their legs and arms, were pulled to the grave. The babies were snatched away from their mothers and stabbed with bayonets. My house was also passed by trucks filled with people: women, children, and old people. They made a tremendous noise. I counted 10 such trucks. The trucks were closely surrounded by Germans armed with rifles. Some of the people jumped out of the moving trucks and started to run, but the trucks stopped and the Germans jumped down, chased the fugitives, and shot them on the spot.”
Copy of the typed report-  for more details see the Yad Vashem site here