Escape to Hungary
By 1941, 825,000 Jews lived in Hungary. They got into the country in different ways - someone lived in the former territory of the Czech Republic, someone came under Hungarian domination of a place with the lands of northern Transylvania that went to Hungary in 1940, someone fled from Germany, Austria and Poland. Some Jews were officially granted the right to stay in the country, some were considered migrants on the way to Palestine. But all Jews were united by one thing: it was not easy for them to live in Hungary. For example, in August 1941 a law was passed prohibiting Jews from entering into marriages and being in relations with representatives of other nations.
In 1940, Hungary joined the Berlin Pact. Since then, she has supported Germany, including in the march through the territories of Ukraine. The anti-Semitic government decided to “liberate” new territories from the Jews living on them. They should have been sent or, as stated in the papers, “repatriated” to Eastern Galicia. Jews gathered at the Ukrainian-Hungarian border.
People were allowed to take with them only the most necessary things and the minimum amount of money. In order to appease the “repatriates”, they were told that they could occupy the houses left by the families of other Jews. Among those who were at the assembly point, there were not only refugees, but also Jews who had long lived in Hungary. They were threatened and forbidden to return to Hungary, and the police took away the last money.
Most of the expelled Jews gathered in Kamenetz-Podolsk. By 1939, about 38% of the local population were Jews. Some of them fled. By August 1941 there were about 26 thousand Jews in the city. It turned out that the Germans were not ready for such an influx of people. They reported that the "repatriates" have nowhere to place and nothing to feed. In addition, the situation at the border was unstable. In this regard, it was assumed that the only way out would be to kill interfering Jews. At the conference, which was held in Bartenstein, unanimously and without discussion, it was decided to arrange massacres.
Jews on the way to execution. A source: en.wikipedia.org
By August 1941, the Holocaust reached Ukraine. At first, the fascist troops destroyed men whose professions seemed to them to be useful - doctors, artisans and skilled workers. Soon he received an order to shoot women and children. The number of victims in Chernivtsi, Dobromil, Lviv, Zhytomyr and other cities has already reached three- and four-digit numbers. But the massacre in Kamenetz-Podolsk was the first such large-scale extermination of the Jews.
20 thousand victims
On August 27, 1941, the “repatriates” were told that the city was being evacuated, and they were being led out along with other residents. In the long columns of Jews led to the hills to the north of the city. The police lined up people and forced them to flee. All valuable things had to be left on the ground, and some were even forced to undress. Many of them were shot, someone got a bullet head. The victims were buried in pits dug up right there, some were buried alive.
About the days when it happened the sad events, known as the Kamenetz-Podolsk massacre, can not be said for sure: the testimony of the participants diverge. Probably, the Jews were killed from 27 to 29 August, possibly up to 31. But the number of victims is known for sure: according to the Germans, 23,600 people were shot near Kamyanets-Podilsky. About 16 thousand of them were deported from Hungary, the rest were residents of Kamenetz-Podolsk and nearby villages. Five thousand Jews survived the massacre and were settled in the ghetto. But in 1942 the ghetto was dissolved, and all its inhabitants were killed. In 1943, attempts were made in Ukraine to hide the traces of the Holocaust. Many corpses were exhumed and cremated. But by 1944 the Soviet army went on the offensive, and it was not possible to hide the traces of all crimes. In total, during the war years, 87,000 Jews were killed in Kamenets-Podolsk.
No one is forgotten
Responsibility for the crimes committed took Friedrich Yekeln, who gave orders for the destruction of the Jews in Ukraine. In captivity at the USSR, he was faced with a military tribunal in Riga. He was sentenced to death and hanged on the same day with others convicted in front of several thousand people.
Already after the end of the Second World War, a scandal occurred in Kamenets-Podolsk: local authorities banned the relatives of the victims to hold a rally in memory of Holocaust victims. Only in 2015, the city was erected a memorial.