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This page contains links to a variety of memoirs and historical records pertaining to the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, in Israel, is a primary source for these links. Another productive source is a website called The Burnt Childhood Project that contains brief memoirs of children who lived through the Holocaust.

Vitaly Gekhtin, who was born in Kherson in 1934, was educated as a biologist. Vitaly was the Vice-Director of the Institute of Biology and Parasitology of Uzbekistan Academy. Vitaly Gekhtin immigrated to Israel from Tashkent in 1995.

It is often overlooked that Jews, including Eastern European Jews, did fight against the Nazis. Many Jews fought bravely in the Allied forces. Abrek Arkadyevich Barsht, born in Kherson Oblast, was a Russian fighter pilot who was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union.

The Jewish population in Kherson was much larger in summer 1941 than the pre-war population. The city population had been inflated by Jews and non-Jews alike fleeing Poland after the Germans had overrun that country in September 1939. Later, after 22 June 1941, when the Germans broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Agression Treaty, many more refugees from the western areas of the Soviet Union arrived in Kherson. Many Jews wisely continued fleeing eastward under the auspices of Soviet evacuation efforts. Nevertheless, a large number of Jews were still in Kherson when the Germans arrived in mid-August 1941. The Nazis did not waste time; an initial roundup and murder of the Jews began soon after their arrival.

By early September 1941, the remaining Jews were forced into a ghetto. The scenario was the same as had been imposed by the Germans in Poland and would be repeated in all the regions that the Germans conquered. The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by sentries and dogs. A Judenrat (Jewish Council established by the Germans to carry out Nazi anti-Jewish policy) was set up; Jews were registered; the medieval wearing of a Star of David on one's clothing was imposed; valuables and money were turned over to the Judenrat; and Jews were requisitioned into forced labor. Before the end of that month, Jews were moved again – this time to the local prison. The large-scale mass murders were soon to begin.

Luck played a role in the survival of a number of Kherson Jews. Yad Vashem has recorded the memoirs of some of these survivors on its website. These memoirs can be found in the database section entitled The Untold Stories.

After the Nazis had executed several thousand Jews, they decided to release those remaining women who were married to non-Jews. Yudit Agracheva took advantage of this temporary reprieve and escaped. Read Yudit's story & that of Anna.

Fanya Moiseenko and her infant son also took advantage of the Nazis' “largesse”; she and her son found their way to a nearby village where a local woman hid them. Lyudmila Burlaka's escape, as she and her family were walking to their deaths, is harrowing. Read both of these stories at Fanya & Lyudmila.

These women would most likely have not survived if it were not for the risks that local people took in protecting them. Yad Vashem has recognized these Righteous Among the Nations. Among these courageous people are the Sopora Family; the Nesterenko Family; and Yevgenia Zamoroko née Lysenko, who received a posthumous award in 2007.

The commanders of the Einsatzkommandos (Operational Squads; in fact, killing squads) sent progress reports back to headquarters. Many of these reports survived The War and are available to the public. In September 1941, Einsatzkommandos 11 and 12b of Einsatzgruppe D was assigned to the Kherson region. Operational Situation Report USSR No. 95, issued 26 September 1941, states, in a clipped, business-like manner: “The Jewish question is being solved in Nikolayev and Kherson. About 5,000 Jews were involved.” One can read a 1958 interview of a former member of Einsatzkommando 12b.

The Russians established the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission to document Nazi depredations throughout the Soviet Union. Soviet troops kicked the Germans out of Kherson on 13 March 1944, after a thirty-one month occupation. Soon afterwards, the Soviet Commission wrote four reports, from April to mid-June 1944, in which witnesses describe the mass murder of Kherson Jews. Yad Vashem has a large collection of the Commission's reports.

After World War II monuments were placed at the site of the mass murders to commemorate the Jewish victims of Nazi barbarism. Several of the monuments do not mention that the victims were Jewish. Photographs, augmented with brief histories, of the monuments can be seen at Chervona Zirka and at Zelonovka; the brewery; & the Tropin hospital.

Yad Vashem provides the locations of the Kherson killing sites and those at Nikolayev together with a brief summary of specifics of the actions.

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Last Modified: 03-14-2021
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