Holocaust in Poninka


The vast majority of Jews from Poninka were murdered in 1941.  There are no official records but below are the facts that we do know.


From Yad Vashem 

PONINKA, forest At the beginning of September 1941 about 500 Poninka Jews were shot to death by Germans in a forest near the village.



PONINKA, forest

On September 2, 1941 2,000 Polonnoye Jews were shot to death in the forest near Poninka village

2. The Jewish community of Poninka grew significantly with the opening of a paper factory in the town in 1870. In 1897 the Jewish population was 206 out of a total of 1,025 residents. Under Soviet rule a Yiddish elementary school operated in the town until the mid-1930s. Many Jews continued to work at the local paper factory. In 1939 Poninka had a population of 675 Jews, who comprised 17.7 percent of the total number of residents.
The Germans captured the town on July 5, 1941. Shortly afterwards, probably in the same month, a group of Jewish men was shot to death in the forest outside the town. Jewish houses were marked with a Star of David and the Jews had to wear yellow patches on their clothes. Apparently in late August or early September 1941 about 500 Jews from Poninka were shot to death in the same forest. According to several testimonies several Jewish artisans and specialists were left in the town. Probably in late autumn of 1941 they were taken to the ghetto of Polonnoye and murdered on June 25, 1942, along with the other ghetto inmates. Poninka was liberated by the Red Army on January 8, 1944.

(from Yad Vashem's Untold Stories:  The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the former USSR)

  Mass Grave Memorial

This monument to the 1,270 Jews who were killed on June 25, 1942 sits just outside of Poninka.      




Execution of Jews from Polonne and Poninka in Poninka  - from the website Holocaust by Bullets (Father Patrick Desbois)


2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Memorials :  Yes
Period of occupation:1941-1944
Number of victims : 500/1270


Witness interview:  Mariia K
., born in 1924, remembered: “We were gathering herbs with my friend in the forest. Suddenly, we saw local policemen digging the pits. They told us to go away because the Germans were going to bring the Jews to the shooting site. We left and hid in the bushes. We heard screams and shooting until late at night. But we didn’t see the execution. Later we went to the shooting site. The pits were big and square. I knew that there were a lot of children among the victims because I saw their clothes near the pits.” (Testimony n°1653, interviewed in Poninka on April 30th, 2013)

Historical Note:  Poninka is located 130 km North-east of Khmelnytskiy.  The Jewish community was not very significant in this village.  In 1897, only 206 Jews (20% of total population) lived here.  By early 19th century the Jewish community represented only 18% of the total population, numbering 675 Jews.  The part of them worked at the paper factory while the others lived off of small-scle trade or handcraft.  There was a Yiddish school until the 1930's.  The village of Poninka was occupied by the Wehrmacht army on July 5th, 1941.

Holocaust by Bullets in figures
Soon after the occupation of the village, the Jews were forced to wear armbands; their houses were also marked.  The young men had to perform strenuous manual labor.  The first execution was conducted in late August-early September 1941, against about 500 Jews.  According to the witnesses interviewed by Yahad, one day all the Jews were ordered to come to the paper factory with their belongings.  Their valuables were confiscated by the local police and the Jews were locked inside the factory.  After having been detained for one week without any food, they were brought by truck to the nearby forest where they had to dig the pits and undress.  Those who were not killed, the majority of whom were artisns and their families, were taken to the ghetto in Polonne mid-February, 1942.  It is believed that they were murdered in Ponink, along with the Polonne Jews on the 25th of June, 1942, during the liquidation of the Polonne ghetto.

Go to the Polonnoye Yiskor Book on Jewishgen to see a list of Holocaust victims from Polonnoye and Poninka.  This list was compiled by Semyon Bentsianov from the memories of survivors in the years 1987-1991.  It is incomplete and its not clear how accurate it is.  But these are our only sources


From the  Jewish Observer, Jewish Ukraine, August 15, 2002

        JEWISH UKRAINE       15/34 August 2002 5762 Elul   


S. Benrsianov, B.Melnichuk

A small settlement Poninka is located 7 km away from the district center Polonny in the north of Khmelnitsky region. Prior to the war Jews lived here together with Ukrainians and Poles. Most of them worked at a local paper-mill.

During the occupation in autumn 1941 Nazis exterminated the entire Jewish population of the settlement - they failed to depart eastwards escaping the brown plaque. Fascists brutally killed nearly one thousand persons, chiefly women, children and the aged in the depth of the woods.

Only three persons survived: a Jew Yakov Bogula was saved by the neighboring Ukrainian family of Rybachuk and a Pole Anton Baginsky saved his wife Yevgeniya and daughter Galina. Six huge communal graves guard the ashes of the killed. One of the graves became the last resort for, as witnesses assert, the Jewish children killed by fascist fiends.

After the liberation the workers of Poninkov paper-mill created a monument in the death place of Jews-martyrs. In 1953 the local council established cast iron figure sections around the monument instead of a former wooden hence and tidied up the burial territory.

In early July local inhabitants got alarmed at the news brought by the forester V.Shvorob. He was the first to discover the traces of vandalism.

People without honesty (unfortunately, they can be found everywhere) had decided to earn from metallic fence around the communal graves located it the heart of the forest. They broke the peace of the sacred place, dismantled and took away part of the cast iron fence - 30 sections. Chairman of the local council V. Malinkovsky was informed about the incident, a corresponding act was drawn up and directed to the law enforcement agencies of the Polonsky district.

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