Drobytsky Yar on Kharkov’s eastern outskirts…
Between the end of 1941 and the start of 1942, a massacre of Kharkov’s Jewish population was carried out in the Drobytsky Yar area. A memorial, called “Memorial Park and Museum Drobytsky Yar” is dedicated to these events.
On October 20, 1941 the Wehrmacht troops reached the outskirts of Kharkov. The city was defended by the 216th Infantry Division of the Red Army, the 57th Infantry Brigade of the NKVD, the regiment of militia, and a tank battalion (47 tanks) – in total, nearly 20 thousand people, and 120 artillery pieces and mortars, were all under the command of Major General I. Marshalkov.
On October 23, 1941 the Office of City Commandant, whose members were comprised of leading officers from the 55th army corps of Nazi Germany (Quartermaster Division), issued an instruction that read:
"1. The winner can use all means to restore and maintain law and order in Kharkov.
2. Unruly elements, saboteurs and guerrillas, who should be sought almost exclusively among the Jews, must be punished by death. Likewise, public execution by hanging should be conducted and victims’ should be left hung for purposes of intimidation. The executed bodies should be protected by auxiliary police. Jews, Jewish stores, and Jewish businesses should be somehow marked.
3. It is necessary and required to be extremely harsh in dealing with the inhabitants".
In the night October 23 to 24, 1941 the city of Kharkov was occupied by part of 57th Infantry Division (commander - Major General Anton Dostler), the 100th Light Infantry Division (commander - Lieutenant General Werner Zanne), and the 101st Light Infantry (Jaeger) Division (commander - Lieutenant General Joseph von Brauner Haydringer). At that time, the city had 500,000 inhabitants – down from the 902,312 thousand inhabitants it had on May 1, 1941.
On October 25, 1941 the first execution was conducted. A man was hung on the balcony of the Regional Party Committee building. A sign that read "guerrillas" was hung on his chest.
In mid-November 1941 200 communists were shot and hung, and more than 1,000 civilians were arrested.
On November 14, 1941 the head of the Kharkov city council, A. Kramarenko, passed an injunction to the burgomaster of the 5th District, A. Orobchenko, to gather at least 50 communists and Jews. Similar injunctions were received by burgomasters of 18 remaining Kharkov's districts. Captured Jews and communists were placed into an improvised concentration camp in the a hotel called "International" (now "Kharkov").
On November 15, 1941 during a raid, around 500 civilians were arrested, 20 of whom were hung on the balconies of the headquarters of the Sapper Regiment.
On November 15, 1941 seven "saboteurs" were hanged, among them was one woman.
On November 16, 1941 the main unit of the Sonderkommando 4A of Einsatzgruppe "C", which was under the command of SS Standartenführer Paul Blobel, arrived in the city. (This was a special army unit of German troops which carried out massacres of civilians in the occupied territories, and played a leading role in the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question").
On November 22, 1941 a decree by the Kharkov City Council on the "Jewish question" was issued. Among other things, it stated:
"Jews have no right to work in the government and in public institutions. Jews should not be allowed into a city council building, with the exception of the elder member of the community. Jews must wear a bandage on their arms. All the Jews must be resettled into one area. Make the German authorities aware of the local population’s desire to take measures against Jews".
On December 5, 1941 the Kharkov City Council issued a resolution to conduct a census and a registration of the population by districts. In particular, the instructions for the registration of Kharkov’s population stated:
"3. A registration is being conducted according to the lists of the approved format.
4. For each building two lists must be produced: in the first list all inhabitants of the building should be recorded, with the exception of Zhids. In the second list all Zhids should be recorded, regardless of their religion"
Special yellow forms were ordered for the census of Jews.
From mid-November to mid-December 1941 a prison was opened at 6 Rybnaya Street (now Cooperativnaya Street) in the garage of the Sonderkommando 4A. It held a few dozen people (mostly Jews). Prisoners were forced into hard labor. They were beaten, forced to stand naked in the cold while gushed with water, and were sporadically shot.
On December 14, 1941 there was a request from the Kharkov City Commandant to the Jews. It summoned them to move to the Tractor and Machine Tool Plant barracks before December 16th inclusively (according to some sources December 20).
Between December 14th and 20th, 1941 several hundred sick and elderly people, who could not make it to the place of relocation, were gathered and locked in the synagogue on Meshchanskaya Street (now Grazhdanskaya) where they all died of hunger and cold.
On December 18, 1941, under the pretext of transfer to a Jewish community, the Sonderkommando 4A took 200 Jewish patients out of a psychiatric hospital. The SD ordered all 200 patients to be killed. The execution was performed by the 1st company of 314th Police Battalion (company commander - Lieutenant Police Oskar Christ).
On December 27, 1941 the liquidation of the ghetto began. Under the pretext of sending people to work to Poltava region, Germans began to evacuate Jews from the ghetto to Drobytsky Yar, where they Jews were massacred.
January 7, 1942 guards were removed from the Jewish ghetto - the ghetto ceased to exist.
1. Skorobogatov A.V. Kharkov during German occupation (1941 - 1943). - Kharkov: Prapor, 2004. - 368 p.
2. Kruglov A.I. The catastrophe of Ukrainian Jewry, 1941-1944. Encyclopedic Reference. - Kharkov: Caravella, 2001. - 376 p.
3. Ethno political problems of Second World War in Ukraine: scientific interpretations, historical memoir. Reporting materials of round table (Kharkov, October 31, 2011). – Kh., 2011
4. Between the Worlds: - Yad Vashem