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[Page 89]

The Holocaust


The Holocaust in Dniepropetrovsk

by HaRav Dr. Tzvi Harkavi

Translated by Sara Mages

…though often tormented
like a sheep being led to slaughter
tossed in the storm of suffering…

…for the sake of martyrs tossed in the fire…
        (From Hoshanot to Hoshana-Rabba)

The Holocaust in Dniepropetrovsk, as the Holocaust in the German occupied area in the Soviet Union - have the same image. Here, too, were several causes for capturing Jews in the Germans' trap. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact - actually: Stalin-Hitler - caused absolute silence in the Soviet Union about the Germans' atrocities against the Jews in the territories occupied by them. Therefore, the Jews didn't know about them, or knew very little. There were those who didn't believe the news, which filtered in, when they remembered the Germans, “who brought order to the Ukraine,” in 1918. In addition, there was also an ancient attitude of respect for the nation of “science, culture, order, literature and philosophy.” Some of the Jews weren't eager to leave, and some saw the fall in the hands of the Germans - a way for their release from Soviet rule. Of course, the noose was hanging on the necks of those who silenced others. So it was in general before the occupation, and so it was in Dniepropetrovsk (the events are detailed in Leikina's diary). [1]

For lack of statistics it's difficult to determine how many Jews lived in Dniepropetrovsk during the Germans invasion. The Jewish population has grown steadily and Dniepropetrovsk attracted Jews from near and far to the last moment. For that reason, the estimated number of Jews in Dniepropetrovsk on the eve of the Holocaust is 150.000.

Dniepropetrovsk was far from the war front, so it seemed that it wasn't in danger. However, the defeats of the Red Army, and the penetration of the Germans to the Ukraine, changed the situation. At the end of July 1941, after the defeats near Uman, the intuitions and the factories were evacuated from the city and with them - the officials and the essential works. In addition, party members, important bureaucrats, the families of the recruits and many Jews, were evacuated at an increasing pace. As the front drew near, and with the first bombing at the beginning of August, the non-Jewish residents, especially the Ukrainians, started to talk openly that when the Germans arrive they - the Ukrainians - would settle their account with the Jews. The attitude changed for the worst, the matter caused fear and worry, and the desire to leave the city increased. But, it was already difficult to carry it out. There were few places on the trains because many wanted to leave. Also, the nearby front prevented the normal rail traffic and the trains weren't able to leave during the day because of the bombing. Many searched for another way out - some bought or rented cart, but they weren't able to travel far. There were those who returned to Dniepropetrovsk, some fell in the hands of Ukrainian peasants who robbed and killed them, and some fell in the hands of the Germans who managed to catch up with them. Many Jews left their property with their neighbors with the hope to get it back when they return to the city. The official evacuation was largely directed to the Ural and Central Asia. A small group of evacuees was sent to the Caucasus through the ports of the Sea of Azov. Many fell in the hands of the Germans after they captured the Caucasus. A small number of those who were sent to the Caucasus managed to get out of there, some to Central Asia and some to nearby Georgia.

Some of Dnepropetrovsk's Jews were evacuated by the authorities and some left on their own despite the difficulties. Again, we don't have official figures

[Page 90]

and in the various sources the number of those who remained in the city ranges between 10.000- 60.000. We have to rely of the number that is registered in the internal-German document: “More than 55,000 killed, and they're those who remained.” To those who remained in Dnepropetrovsk we should add the Jews who moved there from the nearby towns, before and even after the occupation, for fear of the Germans and the non-Jewish residents. One thing is clear: those who remained - were exterminated. Only a few, whose names we know, survived: 1) Monin the beadle; 2) Rachel, daughter of Yitzchak Leikina (maybe she's Roza Liekina or her sister who, for some reason, wasn't mentioned in the diary); 3) Sophia, daughter of Vladimir Liekina (relative of the above, or her brother's wife who perished); 4) Noah Luria. 5) Chava (Yeva) Chevernizkaya: 6) Dr. Roza Liekina (if she isn't the aforementioned Rachel).

In the first days after the capture of the city by the Germans, there weren't any official acts against the Jews. Indeed, quite a few German soldiers visited the homes of the Jews, robbed, plundered, raped, and in many cases, even murdered. in the various sources we're looking for Communists, members of the Soviet regime. The Germans were assisted by the non-Jewish neighbors, mostly Ukrainians who, on this occasion, “avenged” their Jewish neighbors, stole and robbed them together with the Germans or without them. There were cases when Jews were taken to the German police with a demand to pay ransom and in this way they were robbed. There were many acts of murder at the outskirts of the city by the non-Jewish residents. As a result, many chose to move to other locations, to their relatives in the city center, so as not to be alone among non-Jews. When they moved from their homes they asked their neighbors to hold their property until things calm down, and in this manner a lot of property was transferred into the hands of non-Jews. With that, it should be noted that there were those among the non-Jews who helped their Jewish neighbors despite the great danger.

There was a great shortage of foodstuffs and it's clear that the Jews, who didn't have connections in the villages, suffered the most. Many of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were severely punished when they were caught trading with the farmers. In those days, and also later on, several Jews left the city and went to hide with the peasants in the villages. This matter was easier for the women, that some of them looked like Christians, and not for the men because they were circumcised. And indeed, a small number of them survived. There were many cases when the peasants handed the Jews to the Germans, or killed them, after they took everything from them.

Shortly after the occupation the Germans issued a decree that the Jews had to wear a yellow armband with a Star of David on their sleeve. On 8 October, Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were ordered to deposit the sum of 25-30 million Rubles in the Germans' headquarters fund. Sort of a “Community Committee” was established to collect this sum from the Jews who remained in Dniepropetrovsk. The attorney Grinberg(?) was elected to head this “committee” and an office was set in Kharkovskaya Street. Each person received a note from the “committee office” with the amount he had to deposit. The payments started on 10 October, and by the day of the Aktzia, Dniepropetrovsk's Jews deposited the amount that was imposed on them as a “punishment for their crimes against the German government…


The Aktzia

On 11 October, the management of each building was ordered to submit an accurate list of all he Jews who remained there and immediately after came the order that on 13 October that the Jews should report next to the “Univermag” in the prospekt for a “transfer to another location for their safety and security,” and they should to take food and valuables with them. Many, in their innocence, believed this order. When they arrived to the gathering location their belongings stolen, they were loaded on trucks and taken to the edge of the city, to a place called the City Garden next to the “Institute of Transportation.” There, they were slaughtered in one of the deep ravines. The slaughter also continued on the next day, 14 October and, according to Liekina, about 38 thousand Jews were killed in those two days.

[Page 91]

On 12 October, many of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews, who thought that they would be safer at the assembly point, started to gather next to the “Univermag” for fear of the police and their neighbors who started to attack them and rob their belongings. For that reason, 12 October is considered to be the first day of the Aktzia in several sources. Out of tens of thousands fatalities only a few managed to save their life. It should be noted, that the Ukrainian policemen behaved with special cruelty towards those who were led to the slaughter - robbed, beat, and abused.

In her diary, Liekina describes everything in simplicity, the fears, the Germans' order to the Jews to gather, the killing and what followed. According to “Goebbels' calendar” - in which the Jewish holidays were chosen as dates for the Aktziot - the day of Shemini Atzeret 5702 was chosen as the first day of the slaughter and Simchat Torah as the second (13-14 October, 1941)[2].

According to a German source[3], an Einsatzgruppe [task force] operated in Dniepropetrovsk under the command of SS Brigadier Otto Hahs.

Noah Luria gave an oral testimony to the Anti-Fascist Committee: “In Dniepropetrovsk, near the “Transportation Institute,” they (the Germans) shot and buried alive in a vast ravine 11.000 women, elderly, children (Jews) … (Nuremberg trial report, 1947, page 47, section 1).

After the Holocaust, when the refugees returned to their city, Dniepropetrovsk, from the place of their evacuation they came across, like in many other places, with Ukrainian anti-Semitism. The Ukrainians refused to give them their apartments and property back. In 1947, for these reasons fifty families from the vicinity of Dniepropetrovsk decided to move to… Birobidzhan and arrived there together (in a freight train)…

How many Jews were murdered in Dnepropetrovsk? As aforementioned, there were about 150.000 Jews on the eve of the Holocaust. In his article, (Eynikayt, 27.6.46, “Dniepropetrovsk”) - S. Artenberg wrote that the Red Army found 10-15 Jewish survivors in the city (as mentioned, there're those who give a smaller number). All the Jews who were trapped in the city were annihilated - no one disputes that.

In regards to the first Aktzia - the decisive - most of the sources mention the date: 13.10.41, the day of Shemini Atzeret 5702. Some also mention the previous day, 12.10.41 - the day of Hoshana-Rabba, as the first day of the Aktzia. Orenburg uses the date 10.10.41 in his article (Eynikayt, 27.12.42). He entered the wrong date because he wrote the article on the other side of the front lines.

There are different reports on the number of fatalities, starting from 10.000 and up to 55.492. Additional Atkziot came after the first Aktzia, and occasional killings annihilated the survivors.

Here are the sources, from the few to the many, with their dates:

  1. Gideon Hausner in the report he submitted at the Eichmann trial (9.5.61) - 13-10-41 - 10.000[4].
  2. In a Nuremberg trial report, 1947, page 49 (in English) - 12.10.41 - 11.100.
  3. S. Artenberg in his article (Eynikayt, 27.6.46) - 20.000.
  4. Y.Z. in his testimony before the residents of Dniepropetrovsk - 13.10.41 - 20.000.
  5. In a Nuremberg trial report, page 67: In Kiev and Dniepropetrovsk together 60.000, and if we collect 33.000 for Kiev, 27.000 will remain for Dniepropetrovsk.
  6. S. Spector, secretary of Yad Vashem, in his letter to me from the month of Elul 5721 - 13.10.41 - 30.000.
[Page 92]

  1. A. Arnburg, in his article (Eynikayt, 27.12.42) - 10.10.41 - 32.000.
  2. S. Leibkovitz, in her testimony before the residents of Dniepropetrovsk: “14-18 thousand in the big new cemetery within a day or two, apart from those who were killed in the “monastery” forest. And they “shot them two days and two nights.” [Most of the new Jewish cemetery was desecrated by the Nazis and their partners, and it was difficult to identify the graves after the Holocaust. (See Mark Schechter's poem - “My father's grave”].
  3. The doctor, Dr. Leikina (Sovetish Heymland, 1965.5) - 13/14.10.41 - 37.000.
  4. The Black Book[5], 1946, pages 366-368 and page 374, note 94 - 35.000-40.000.
  5. Moshe Kahanovitz , The war of the Jewish partisans in eastern Europe, page 171 - 12.0.41.
  6. And here, after I read hundreds of reports in German at Yad Vashem about the actions of the Nazi divisions in the Soviet Union, I found on page number 001721[6]: 55.432 put to death in Dniepropetrovsk at the beginning of October 1941.
In summary, in my opinion there were over 100.000 Jews in Dniepropetrovsk on the eve of the Holocaust. About half of them managed to get out - or were evacuated - from the city. About half of them, apart from about a “minyan” of Jews, who miraculously survived, were trapped and exterminated.

The main Aktzia, but not the only one, took place on Shemini Atzeret, and it's possible to rely of the Germans' statistics who “innocently” told t what they saw - their defilement.

Overall, at least 55,432 Jewish martyrs were murdered in Dniepropetrovsk. May the Lord avenge their blood.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. See Molotov's words (Pravda, 1.11.39) about the ideological contrast between Communism and Hitlerism. Levi Kentor (One hundred years of struggle, Tel-Aviv, 5729, page 301), assumes, that the silencing was understood by the anti-Semitic elements in the Soviet Union for permission to exterminate Jews. Return
  2. Only in “Be-?evle kelayah,” page 76, there is a surprising report about a “second slaughter” on 12.41 (21 Kislev 5702) in which 10,000 Jews were murdered. Maybe there is a mixing of the dates here for the same Aktzia. Return
  3. Einsatzgruppe's report from19.11.41, which states that 10,000 Jews were murdered. This number is also given in “Be-?evle kelayah,” page 28. Return
  4. A. A. Goldstein, Book on Russian Jewry II, pages 89, 92, writes: 30,000(?) Jews remained in Dniepropetrovsk, 11,000(?) were killed. Return
  5. On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow, the National Council of the Jews of Eretz-Yisrael, the Writers Association, the Jewish artists and scientists in the United-States. Return
  6. Microfilm in German: IM/1763
    001535- 001541
    UD SSR N-132
    12 NOV. 1941 Return


[Page 107]


by David Bergelson hy”d

Translated by Sara Mages

Free again! On October 25, the Red Army extracted, with mighty force and astounding balance, this important industrial and cultural city from the murderous hands of the fascists, and brought it back to life.

Another stone was lifted from the heart of the Soviet country, the Ukrainian nation and all the Jews of the Soviet Union - a heavy stone.

Dniepropetrovsk wasn't just a city for us, but a metropolis among other cities.

The city grew before our eyes and became an industrial and cultural center. It's nourished to satiety by the wealth of the Donbas [Donets Basin], the quarries of the Krivoy Rog region, and the rich black soil around it.

It bloomed especially during the days of the Soviets. In the first three years of Stalin's “First Five-Year Plan,” the number of its workers has increased, all at once, from 37 thousand to over 94 thousand. Newspapers and three periodicals appeared in Dniepropetrovsk. About 11 thousand students visited the universities there. About 50 thousand students studied in Dniepropetrovsk's technical colleges and in schools of seven and ten years. About 2000 loudspeakers transferred the news, in the country and in the world, in the beautiful wide streets. Every evening, the five theaters, clubs, and the magnificent cultural center were filled to capacity. The city of laborers breathed a youthful Soviet air, and the entire Soviet Union drew satisfaction from it.

What's new in Dniepropetrovsk?

In this manner they asked those, who came from the young Dnieper-city, out of confidence to hear something good.

The city is growing! - was the answer, and therefore they sensed that they deal here with a live and young matter.

And we don't have a nation in the Soviet Union, who wasn't happy to send its sons to build, not far from this city, the country's genius factory - Dnieper G.A.S. And there isn't a Soviet person, who, on the day of the activation of this mighty plant, didn't feel in his heart that it was a good day of labor for the victorious country. We'll never forget the joyous smile which appeared on every face in the country. It was like the joy of a father on the day of his offspring's wedding: - well, Dniepropetrovsk, Donbas, Krivoy Rog, Zaporizhia, you've won! And since then, the city grew more rapidly, and its value was more important for the Ukraine and the Soviet Union.

The city also had an important role in the life of the Jews. Around it are the largest and oldest agricultural areas. Even before, when the Jews were pushed into the “Pale ofSettlement,” the city was a refuge for Jewish youth who wanted to save itself from the wilderness of provincialism. Already in 1897 there were 1613 Jewish metal workers, 109 Jewish miners, 109 Jews in the chemical industry, and additional 806 Jews in other industrial jobs. The Jews of “Katerynoslav” even

[Page 108]

managed to penetrate, as laborers, the industry that was “absolutely forbidden” to the Jews at that time - the train.

In Ekaterinoslav, the Jews of the south-west tasted, for the first time, the flavor of using muscle power. Nice young men, aged 16, abandoned without mercy the “sitting” professions - tailoring, furrier, cobbling, watchmaking, etc. - came from the towns to Ekaterinoslav, and stayed there until they were recruited. Aligned, healthy, with muscular hands, they “darkened” the High Holidays for their mothers, who cried unceasingly in the synagogue: “My son was a nebach [weakling], totally weak - now he comes to enlist, he's so healthy, an oak, oy vey to his mother.”

Dniepropetrovsk has become more important after October Days. In 1932, there were thousands of Jews, young and old, among the 34 thousand workers in the metrology factories named after Lenin, Molotov and Petrovsky. The children, of the thousands of members of the Jewish kolkhozy in the environs, weren't absent from the schools near the factories, and from the technological institutes of Dniepropetrovsk. This youth was full of energy and joy of life. After every performance (in Yiddish) at the Jewish institute in Dniepropetrovsk, every Jewish writer felt as if the healthy youth, who was in need of his creation, filled him with new flesh and blood.

Now the city is in ruins, the city which was full with the joy of young workforce - the German ruled it for over two years (August, 25, 1941 - October 25, 1943). He lay on it with all the force of his murderous loathing, robbed it, persecuted, raped, and murdered.

The buildings in the streets are still smoldering, and the smoke penetrates the eyes of the soldier - the man of the Red Army, who liberated the city not long ago. He grits his teeth and gathers his strength so he could leap to the next battle.

The Jewish soldier is grinding his teeth not less than him. He knows very well the special “methods” that the Germans use to spill the blood of the Jews. They arrive to all their settlements, big and small, and don't leave a single Jew alive there. And all this commands the Jewish soldier: don't leave a single German fascist alive on the land of the Soviet Union.

His duty, to his country and his nation, requires him:

– Remember what the Germans did to you, to your country and your nation!

– Each shot that our soldiers are firing at the German fascists is sacred and their work, for the benefit of the battlefront, should be appreciated by every Jew in the rear. Please remember, that when our soldier increases his work quota, he kills another German fascist.

And every Jew should take comfort in the fact, that the fascist murderers didn't have the time to kill all the Jews of Dniepropetrovsk. An important part of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were taken at that time from the city, together with the rest of the population and the industrial plants. Those who were saved are located in the battlefront and in the rear, and they fulfill their obligation to their country and their people with honor. Alive and working is Haim Rivkin, the respected metal worker who for decades didn't separate from his metallurgical factory. When he was forced to move his factory to the foot of the Ural, he turned it there into a giant industrial plant. Alive is Miriam (Mary) Sheydwasser, the Jewish woman who worked since 1930 in one of the sewing workshops in Dniepropetrovsk. Far in the rear, she carried bricks and materials to rebuild the workshop, and excelled in her work quota. And now, she has the joy of life and a creative spirit to write poems in the spirit of the nation:

One child holds her dress, the other in her arms,
the woman fled from her burning home.
Thousands of “Haimim” and “Miriamot” from Dniepropetrovsk are still alive. Many of them will return to their hometown, and they'll build it anew.

They left Dniepropetrovsk in tears, and they'll build it with exultation…

So wrote the author David Bergelson, member of the Anti-Fascist Committee, who, a short time later, was one of the people who were executed by order of the authorities. The flattery to Stalin and all the display of Soviet patriotism - didn't help. The article was translated in its entirety, as is.- Z.H.

From Yiddish - Z.H.

[Page 109]

The City on the Dnieper

by S. Ortenberg

Translated by Sara Mages

Life of tension, wealth and creativity is the lot of Dniepropetrovsk. The smoky chimneys of the steamboats, which sail back and forth, are reflected in the broad waters of the Dnieper River. They are loaded with iron products and other metals, anthracite and building materials. The broad building of first car plant in the Ukraine is located at the outskirts of the city. From a distance, in addition to the lines of the buildings, you can also see the beautiful new housing project that is being built.

On the left bank of the Dnieper River stand the metallurgy factories named after Karl Liebknecht and the “Comintern[Communist International]. 12 furnaces and 19 rolling machines (waltzy) are already operating at full power. There are two dikes in the factory for chemical products with purification (coxes). The factory for work tools, named after Kahanowitch, is already operating. One wing, in the metallurgical forging factory, is operating again at full force.

“We would beautify our city, and it will be more glorious than before! With this slogan the residents of Dniepropetrovsk approached the rehabilitation work. This is the second year of the socialist competition between the two industrial centers in the Ukraine - Dniepropetrovsk and Kharkov - to rehabilitate the two cities better and faster. Here are several summaries. In a short period of time about a quarter of a million square meters of residential space was built and renovated. Seventy kilometers of tram tracks were paved (11 lines, approximately 100 cars). Many trees were planted in the streets, etc.

And here is a short list of restoration projects that were set for this year: open the movement of trolleybuses and buses, establish a bathhouse for 1,000 bathers per day, build a 250 room hotel, finish the project of supplying gas in pipes to the buildings in the city, establish a physiotherapy institute, open a convalescent home for children, and build a new clinic in the area of the car plant.

Today, there are over 100 medical institutes and healing centers in Dniepropetrovsk. There are almost 10,000 students in the 12 universities and scientific research institutes. There are 22 secondary technical schools (9,000 students) and over 60 high schools.

Two dramatic theatres - Ukrainian and Russian, 8 cinemas, 13 clubs and culture halls, serve the needs of the growing population.

In the city center - a park for culture and rest named after Chkalov. In the middle of the park, bright and clean rail cars (the smallest in the world) are moving swiftly on tracks. This is a train for toddlers named after Stalin - how much joy and satisfaction this train provides to its little passengers!


Wide perspectives are opened before Dniepropetrovsk in Stalin's “Five-Year Plan.” In 1950, the industry in the city will produce twice as much of its output before the war. The construction of the large factory for cars (one of the largest of its kind in Europe), will be completed. The plant will produce 60,000 cars per year. Auxiliary factories will be built around it, and each one of them will be an independent industrial factory. The new factory for radios will produce 20,000 radios per year. Two tremendous power stations and a large glass factory will be built.

The city will be restored thoroughly under the “New Five-Year Plan.” In 1950, the living space will reach 3 million square meters. The number of electric trams will reach 300. 60 trolleybuses and 200 taxis will sway in the streets. The construction of the monumental train station in Dniepropetrovsk already started (the plan was designed by architect Duskin, the recipient of Stalin's prize).

[Page 110]

We'll reveal the full details and the perspective lines of the rehabilitation program which was designed by talented architects.

…From both banks of the Dnieper extend streets and avenues, clean, wide, that greenery and flowers adorn them. In the center - a prospectus of Karl Marks - a magnificent theatre for opera and ballet for 1,500 spectators, a theater, operetta and a youth theater, the philharmonic building, a cinema with three halls, the regional library, a grand “Intourist” hotel, and a “club for Soviet civil servants.”

In the city center stands erect the tall “Soviet House” - an architectural pearl.

Around the car plant - a well planned new town for 30,000-40,000 residents. The planners and the manufacturers of the cars live there. A park, named after Shevchenko, is adorned with magnificent pillars, pavilions for various attractions, stages, etc.


Up to the war (the Second World War), Dniepropetrovsk was a distinguished Jewish center. About 150 thousand Jews lived there. Thousands of Jewish laborers worked in the heavy industry factories (metals and machinery).

At the beginning of the “Patriotic War”, a large part of the Jewish community in the city went to the rear or to the front. More than 20,000 Jews, who didn't manage to get out, were brutally murdered by the fascist murderers.

On the day that city of Dniepropetrovsk was liberated by the heroes of the Red Army, there were 10-15 Jewish inhabitants in the city. They were saved by chance, mostly with the help of their neighbors.

However, the Jewish community began to grow from day to day, especially after the war.

A large number of Jews, who were released from their service in the Red Army, returned to their homes in Dniepropetrovsk. Also a substantial number of those, who left the city, returned to it. Today, there are 50,000 Jews in the Jewish community of Dniepropetrovsk.

The Jews occupy a significant place in the metal industry as laborers, managers, engineers and technicians. Lipshitz, who is “certified for technical sciences,” is the director of the technical department of the factory named after Petrovskyn, and he greatly contributed to the renovation of the factory. The member Basel serves as a deputy in the same factory. The chief engineer in the factory named after the “Comintern” [Communist International] is the member Magidson, of the factory named after Liebknecht is the member Stopel. The chief engineer in the factory named after Lenin is the member Scheck, and so on.

There are quite a few Jews among the scientists in the universities and the technical institutes of Dniepropetrovsk. The scientific achievements of the professors and researchers - Gottlieb, Zeitlin, Taiz, Brock, Slutsky, and dozens of others in various sectors, especially in metallurgy - are well known in the scientific world.

The Jewish community contributes its share to the reconstruction and the development of the city of Dniepropetrovsk, in the economy, industry and culture.

(Aynikayt [Unity - a Yiddish periodical] 77 (327) - 27 June, 1946)

Due to the subject matter the article is given in its entirety, as is, with its exaggerations and the enthusiasm for Stalin's “Five-Year Plan.” Why a slaughtered nation should be happy with the Gentiles' rehabilitation program since many of them have collaborated in the slaughter?

From Yiddish - Z.H.


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