Vinnytsia massacre

Vinnytsia massacre

The Vinnytsia massacre was a mass execution of people in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia by the Soviet secret police NKVD during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge in 1937–1938. Mass graves in Vinnytsia were discovered during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1943. Valery Vasiliev, Yuriy Shapoval, "Stages of «Great Terror»: The Vinnytsia Tragedy", "Zerkalo Nedeli", № 31 (406), August 17-23, 2002, ( [ in Russian] , [ in Ukrainian] )] The investigation of this site coincided with the discovery of a similar site in Katyn. Because the Germans wanted to use this evidence of Communist terror to discredit the Soviet Union, it became one of the better researched sites of mass murder among many in Ukraine.

The investigation commission

The first examinations of the exhumed bodies were made by German, Ukrainian and Russian doctors such as professor Gerhard Schrader of the University of Halle-Wittenberg, docent Doroshenko of Vinnytsia, and professor Malinin of Krasnodar. The excavations started in May 1943 at three different locations: the fruit orchard in the west, the central cemetery, and the People's Park. Most of the bodies were found in the fruit orchard (5,644 bodies). Altogether, 91 mass graves were discovered at the three different locations and 9,432 bodies were exhumed; 149 of them were women. The excavations at the People's Park were not finished, though many more bodies were thought to be buried there. [Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.83–86, 117. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).]

After a preliminary investigation conducted by professor Schrader's team, two teams of medical examiners were invited — one international and the other made up of 13 experts from different German universities. An international commission of experts in anatomy and forensic pathology was invited from eleven countries in Europe. The experts were: [Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.103. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).]
* Dr. Soenen, Ghent University, Belgium.
* Dr. Michailov, Sofia University, Bulgaria.
* Dr. Pesonen, University of Helsinki, Finland.
* Dr. Duvoir, University of Paris, France.
* Dr. Cazzaniga, University of Milan, Italy.
* Dr. Jurak, University of Zagreb, Croatia.
* Dr. ter Poorten, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
* Dr. Birkle, Bucharest, Romania.
* Dr. Gösta Häggqvist, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
* Dr. Krsek, University of Bratislava, Slovakia.
* Dr. Ferenc Orsós, University of Budapest, Hungary.

The international commission visited the mass graves between July 13 and July 15, 1943. The German commission completed its report on the July 29, 1943. Both commissions determined that almost all of the victims were executed by two shots in the back of the head between 1937–1938. [ About Crime in Vinnytsia] Ukrainian society of the repressed. Peter Pavlovych]

468 bodies were identified by people of Vinnytsia and the surroundings, the other 202 were identified on the basis of documents and evidence found in the graves. Most were identified as Ukrainians, but there were also 28 ethnic Poles. [Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.124, 215–248. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).]

Besides the international expert commission, several other international delegations visited the sites during the summer of 1943. Among them were politicians and other officials from Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Finland and Sweden. [Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.6, 206–207. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).] Photos and results of the investigation were published in many countries in Europe, and were used by Germany in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union.

Most of the bodies were reburied after a burial service lead by metropolit Vissarion of Odessa. The service was also attended by many other Orthodox bishops and foreign church officials. [Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza, p.124, 208–209. Archiv-Edition 1999 (Faksimile der 1944 erschienenen Ausgabe).]

A monument was also erected to the "Victims of Stalinist Terror". Later the Soviet authorities rededicated the monument to the "Victims of Nazi Terror", finally completely removing it and creating an entertainment park in its place. During Soviet times, information about the massacre was disseminated and investigated by the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. The mass murder in Vinnytsia was an officially forgotten topic in Ukraine until 1988.

See also

* Bykivnia another mass grave site near Kiev
* Kurapaty, a similar mass grave site near Minsk, Belarus
* Dem'ianiv Laz, a mass grave site near Ivano-Frankivsk
* Katyń Massacre
* Svirlag



* Ihor Kamenetsky. The Tragedy of Vinnytsia: Materials on Stalin's Policy of Extermination in Ukraine/1936-1938, Ukranian Historical Assn (1991) ISBN-13: 978-0685375600 ( [ available on line in pdf. format] )
* Sandul, I. I., A. P. Stepovy, S. O. Pidhainy. The Black Deeds Of The Kremlin: A White Book. Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror. Toronto. 1953
* Israel Charny, William S. Parsons, and Samuel Totten. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. Routledge. New York, London. ISBN: 0-415-94429
* Dragan, Anthony. Vinnytsia: A Forgotten Holocaust. Jersey City, NJ: Svoboda Press, Ukrainian National Association 1986, octavo, 52 pp. ( [ available on line in pdf. format] )
* Crime of Moscow in Vynnytsia. Ukrainian Publication of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, Inc. New York. 1951
* Вінниця - Злочин Без Кари. Воскресіння. Київ. 1994
* Вінницький злочин // Енциклопедія українознавства.: [В 10 т.] . - Перевид. в Україні. - Київ., 1993. - Т.1. - С.282

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