Moisey Katz statement
Khmelnytskyy, December 22, 1972
Moisey Katz, son of Meer [Moisey Meerovich Katz], born 1908, born and resident in Krasilov, Khmelnytskyy district. He is a Jew, a citizen of the USSR and not a [communist] party member. He has a 5th-grade education, is an employee and lives at Ziulkovsky [Tsiolkovsky] Street, No. 6.
The deposition began at 9:40 AM and ended at 2:10 PM.
Before the deposition the witness stated that he wished to make his statement in the Russian language because he spoke Russian fluently.
To the questions asked of him, M. M. Katz made the following statement:
Since I had no time to evacuate myself I lived with [my] family in Krasilov during the time of the German occupation. At that time Krasilov was designated a small town. It was a settlement with a substantial Jewish component of the population. Like me, many Jews in Krasilov were unable to evacuate; and they remained in their old residence. It was at just these people that a great deal of the malevolent actions by the occupiers was directed. I myself became a witness to these malevolent actions in particular cases.
About 15 to 20 days after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the front passed Krasilov. In about July or August 1941 the occupation administration established itself here. Four German gendarmes appeared in the city. Aside from them there were chiefs for business matters. We knew little about those. After the gendarmes appeared in town the local police was founded, made up of Soviet citizens. Immediately after the creation of the police force the occupiers began concentrating the Jewish population of the surrounding villages. Police officials assisted by the German gendarmes. The population thus herded together first settled in three long one-story houses in the area of the present-day market. Previously those buildings had contained the county finance division, the division of agriculture, the hair salon and some warehouse or another. How many people were driven together into those buildings, I cannot say, because we were not concerned with counting them. I know that the crowding there was terrible. The people literally did not know where to lie down. Furthermore, part of the population of the surrounding villages moved to relatives and friends who lived in Krasilov.
Until January 1, 1942 all Jewish residents of Krasilov aside from skilled workers and their families were herded into the so-called ghetto that the occupiers created on the grounds of what is now the market. The ghetto was an area surrounded by barbed wire. Behind the fence there were 20 to 25 buildings in which the people dwelled in close quarters. The houses of Jewish residents that were not included in the ghetto area were torn down.
The ghetto was watched by two to four policemen night and day. But at the outset the surveillance was not strict. After arranging it with the police, some ghetto inhabitants succeeded in going to the market to trade objects for food. Officially the Jewish population was forbidden to go to the market. The ghetto inhabitants were not provided with food by the occupiers. Even worse was the fact that there was not a single fountain on the ghetto grounds, but leaving the ghetto to get water was also forbidden. The ghetto inhabitants got water only through the forbearance of some of the police.
The skilled workers, i.e., the shoemakers, glaziers, plumbers etc. lived outside the ghetto during the time I’m describing. They lived in the same 3 houses where the Jews who once had been driven into the city from the surrounding villages had first settled. I lived there in my capacity as a skilled worker, namely as a glazier and shoemaker. Although I did not live in the ghetto itself, I still had daily opportunities to encounter its inhabitants, who were driven to heavy labor they were not suited for, for instance fixing streets or assisting at the sugar factory. Moreover the Jews did not receive any money for their work, nor any other compensation for their work. The work orders came from the regional administration, while it was the job of the police to carry them out.
On April 25 or 26, 1942, the most respected, most educated person in the ghetto, Moisha Hammerschmidt [Gamershmid], was called to the local gendarmerie office by a policeman. When Hammerschmidt returned from there, he fainted before he reached the gate to the ghetto. At that moment the family members of Jewish skilled workers who were in the vicinity crowded around him. By coincidence I, too, was there. Hammerschmidt had marks of beatings on his face. Blood was pouring from under his fingernails. When he came to, he began shouting in Yiddish that the people should get themselves to safety because they were all in danger of being killed. He further reported that the Germans in the gendarmerie had ordered him to gather the entire population of the ghetto on the morning of May 1, 1942 in the area by the fence. According to what he said, the Germans had announced that the Jewish inhabitants of Krasilov would be resettled at some other location. They would allow [the Jews] to take their belongings with them up to a weight of 16 kg per adult and 8 kg per child.
On May 1, 1942 the ghetto inhabitants had to go to the square. Three German gendarmes—the chief of the gendarmes was not there—led the people, walking in a column along with the policemen who were residents, out of town. Later it turned out that one had taken these people to a special camp in the village of Orlintsy. We learned this because some of the people taken away to Orlintsy fled back and settled themselves in the ghetto again. On May 2, 1942 those ghetto residents who had avoided being marched out on May 1 were led off to Orlintsy. For the most part these were people who had fled the ghetto on May 1. In the following days the Germans brought small groups of captured Jews to Orlintsy. There were people who were taken to Orlintsy several times.
On May 2, 1942, my father, Meer Herschkowitcsh Katz [Meer Gershkovich Katz], was brought to Orlintsy. At the end of May 1942 the German started taking the skilled workers to Orlintsy too. It was just then that I arrived at said camp. Our group of 44 people was accompanied from Krasilov by 2 gendarmes and 2 policemen. When we were out of town the gendarmes stayed back, so that only the policemen were guarding us. We went 25 kilometers on foot, all told. 8 people who could not keep up with the column and had lagged behind were shot by the policemen. Furthermore, the policemen, who were on horseback, said that the Germans had given them the right to shoot the stragglers. Who in particular had given them such an order, I do not know.
In Orlintsy we were housed in the former horse stable of a kolkhoz [collective farm], which had not even been cleared of manure. There we found residents of Krasilov and the villages of Kulchiny, Kuzmin and Bazaliya who had been brought there previously. The stable was guarded by local police. It was not surrounded by barbed wire. In this camp we found tiny amounts of food. The elderly were locked into the 2nd half of the stable and provided with neither food nor water. They had put a German from Antoniny in charge of the camp. He was a member of the gendarmerie. I can say no more about him. Every morning they led the camp inmates to so-called labor. In reality it was humiliation. The “labor” was like this: six people were teamed in front of a German coach wagon and driven over 5 km to Antoniny. There, not far from the onetime estate of Count Pototsky, one loaded heavy curbstones onto the carriage and brought them to Orlintsy. On the next day one transported these stones back again and took others along in exchange. The carriage was accompanied by members of the police. Germans who observed this event in Antoniny only laughed and drove us on. There were also other kinds of such “labor.” Along with me there were about 100 people housed in the stable.
On the 4th or 5th day of my stay in Orlintsy I succeeded in escaping, and I returned to the Krasilov ghetto. I knew of no other place where I could have gone. More precisely, I returned to my previous residence, the house next to the ghetto where skilled workers lived.
On a day in July or August in the year 1942 the Germans, with the support of the local police, drove absolutely all the remaining residents out of the ghetto. These were old people and children whom one hadn’t taken to Orlintsy yet. There were also young men and women there who in various ways had succeeded in avoiding previous marches to Orlintsy. There were also people like me, i.e., people who had fled back from Orlintsy. Those who could not walk were put on wagons. That group included my mother, my father (who had succeeded in returning from Orlintsy), [my] two children (aged 7 and 1 year), two children of my sister and a child of my brother’s. Aside from those already mentioned, my many distant relatives came there. I only know of the event from what the townspeople told, because I fled from home the night before. I left my parents and the children behind because there were rumors that the children and old people were going to be transported somewhere.
The last group I’m speaking of, the occupiers led to the village of Manivtsy. People said that a new camp for Jews would be built there. They [the occupiers] now relocated the remaining skilled workers from the adjacent houses to the camp. I, too, moved to the ghetto after I’d returned to my former residence. At that point they had reduced the area of the ghetto and fenced it in with two rows of barbed wire. While we were behind the fence we nonetheless learned from hearing the conversations among the policemen that the people who had been taken to Manivtsy had been shot on the third day after their arrival. I cannot give a number for the people who were taken to Manivtsy in this first group. It was said that they had also brought the Jews there from Kulchiny, Kuzmin, Bazaliya and some inhabitants of Teofipol. Rumor has it that a total of about 4,000 people were shot in Manivtsy.
I lived in the ghetto until September 1942. Around the 10th to 12th of September we noticed that the guarding of the ghetto had been intensified. At that point there were still about 300 people in the ghetto. Those were skilled workers and their families plus other citizens who, by any means possible had escaped the previous deportations. Since experience had taught that intensified guarding meant reprisals to come, some of the ghetto inhabitants decided to flee. On that night, 30 people fled, including myself. Many of those who fled died in the time that followed, but I managed to survive by hiding with acquaintances in the surrounding villages and in other places. By hearsay I knew that those who remained in the ghetto after our flight had likewise been shot in Manivtsy.
Question: Can you name the German members of the Krasilov gendarmerie who participated in the crimes you describe?
Answer: As I already said, there were four German gendarmes in Krasilov. They all took part in the crimes I described. Nonetheless I cannot name them or give other essential facts about them, just as I cannot establish the measure of their guilt in what transpired. I know that the chief of the gendarmes was a German born around 1910. He was called “Meister” [master]. He was of medium height, corpulent and had a big belly. I cannot remember any other distinguishing features.
Aside from the chief I can remember a member of the gendarmerie with the given name Karl. His surname and rank I do not know. He was tall and had an athletic build. Under the right eye there was a scar 2 to 3 centimeters long. The scar was almost parallel to his nose. I cannot give any further characteristics of Karl. The Jewish population called him “the thresher” behind his back. That was because he beat up every Jew who got in his way. Once he beat me up, too, when I encountered him. After he had called me to come closer, he hit me twice in the face. I cannot name other members of the gendarmerie.
Question: What became of Moishe Hammerschmidt?
Answer: Hammerschmidt died in the mass shooting of the Jewish population in July-August 1942 in the village of Manivtsy.
Question: Which of the policemen who accompanied you to Orlintsy killed the people who lagged behind the column?
Answer: On that occasion the policemen Michalink [Makhalik] (I can’t remember his given name or patronymic) and Xenophont Saika [Ksenofont Zaika] (I can’t remember his patronymic). After the liberation of our region from the occupiers, both of them were condemned to death by shooting, as far as I know. I was deposed by the court as a witness in the case of the aforementioned persons. Both of those convicted had killed the citizens.
At my request the record was read aloud by the head chief inspector. It was taken down correctly according to my words.
Note: Translation from German by Roger Lustig, with some editorial changes by Barry Chernick