The tragedy of Khatyn

23.10.2020

You will not find this small Belorussian village on any of the most detailed geographic map today. It was destroyed by German fascists in spring in 1943.

This is the only photo of the woman who was among these 149 burned people, her name is Vanda Yaskevich.

The massacre occurred on March 22, 1943. Brutal fascists rushed into the village and encircled it. The inhabitants of the village did not know anything about the fact that in the morning a fascist motor convoy was attacked by fire on a motorway just 6 km away from Khatyn. As a result a German officer was killed. The inhabitants of Khatyn were innocent, however their death sentence had already been pronounced. All of them — young and old, women and kids — were driven from their houses out into the shed. The fascists roused the sick from their beds with rifle butts. They had mercy neither for the old nor for women with infants in their arms. The family of Joseph and Anna Baranovsky with their 9 children was among them. So were Alex and Alexandra Novitsky with their 7 children. Similarly, there were 7 kids in the family of Kazimir and Elena Iotko, the youngest boy was only 1 year old. Vera Yaskevich was also driven into the shed with her 7-week-old son Tolik. Little Lena Yaskevich first tried to hide in the farmstead, but then decided to take safe shelter in the wood. Fascists' bullets were not able to catch up with the running girl, therefore one of the fascists rushed to her and having overtaken killed the girl before the very eyes of her father who was distraught with grief. Among the perished there were also two people from other villages who by chance found themselves in Khatyn at the time. These were Anton Kunkevich from the village of Yurkovichi and Kristina Slonskaja from the village of Kameno.

None of the adults managed to escape. Only three kids — Volodia Yaskevich, his sister Sonia and another boy Sasha Zhelobkovich by name — were able to hide from the fascists. When all people were finally in the shed, the door was locked and the Nazis covered the shed with straw, spilt benzine over and set fire to it. In a moment the wooden shed was ablaze. The children were crying and suffocating in the smoke. The adults were trying to rescue them. The doors of the shed could not bear the force and the pressure of the dozens of people and so they crashed down. Horror-stricken people in their burning clothes took to heels. But the fascists with their machine guns dispassionately killed those who tried to escape from the flames of fire. 149 people, including 75 children under age were burned alive. The youngest baby was only 7 weeks old. The village was then looted and burned to the ground.

The girls from two different families — Maria Fedorovich and Yulia Klimovich — were saved by miracle. They managed to leave the shed and crawl to the nearby wood. Half dead or half alive, all burned they were found by the inhabitants of the village of Khvorosteny of the Kameno village council. Unfortunately, this village was later also burned to the ground and the tow girls were killed.

In the village of Khatyn only two children survived. They are a 7-year-old Viktor Zhelobkovich and a 12-year-old Anton Baranovsky. A young woman Anna Zhelobkovich by name was also in the shed. Together with some other horror-stricken people in their burning clothes she tried to leave the shed, which was ablaze. She was firmly holding her son Vitia's hand. A moment later she was fatally wounded and as she was falling down on the ground she covered the son with her body. The child was wounded in his arm. He lay on the ground under his mother's corpse till the Nazis finally left the village. Anton Baranovsky was also wounded in his leg by an explosive bullet. And so the fascists mistook him for a dead boy.

Inhabitants of neighbouring villages picked up all those injured and severely burnt children and brought them to an orphanage in a small town of Pleshinitsy where they were raised after the war.

The only adult witness to the Khatyn massacre, a 56-year-old village smith Joseph Kaminsky, also wounded and burnt, recovered consciousness late at night when the fascists were already gone. He had to suffer a hard blow, though. He found his injured son among the corpses of the fellow — villagers. The boy was fatally wounded in the abdomen and totally burnt. He died later in the arms of his father.

Joseph Kaminsky A. Baranovsky V. Jelobkovich

And so the only sculpture of the Khatyn memorial complex "The Unconquered Man" was based on this tragic story in the life of Joseph Kaminsky.

The tragedy of Khatyn is not just an occasional episode of this war. It is one of the thousand facts, which testify to the existence of the targeted genocide policy regarding the population of Belarus. And the Nazis were pursuing this policy during all those years of German occupation. Hundreds of similar disasters occurred within the three years (1941 — 1944) of the occupation of the Belorussian land.


Only six people are recognized as witnesses to the tragedy of Khatyn. They are 5 children and an only adult.

Yaskevich Vladimir Antonovich, born in 1930 in the village of Khatyn.
Stayed at the children's home of Pleshinitsy. Studied at the vocational school No. 9. Worked as a turner at the Minsk automobile plant. Served in the army, then came back to the Minsk automobile plant in 1952. He began his career as a turner and progressed to a shop foreman. He retired in 1993. He lived in the village of Kozyry in Logoisk region. Died in 2008.

(from left to right) V. A. Yaskevich, V. A. Zhelobkovich, S. A. Fiokhina (Yaskevich) at the memorial complex "Khaytn" in 1985

Yaskevich (Fiokhina) Sofia Antonovna, born in 1934 in the village of Khatyn.
Stayed at the children's home of Pleshinitsy. Studied at the vocational school of communication No. 15 in Brest. Worked as a typist at a post office in Minsk. She is now in pension and lives in Minsk. She has two sons and a granddaughter.

Zhelobkovich Viktor Andreevich, born in 1934 in the village of Khatyn.
Stayed at the children's home of Pleshinitsy. Studied at a vocational school. Worked as a moulder at the machine tools plant. Served in the army, then came back to the plant. Studied at and graduated from the Polytechnical University at evening classes specializing in mechanical engineering. He worked at the design office of precise engineering. Now he lives in Minsk and has a daughter and a granddaughter.

Zhelobkovich Alexander Petrovich, born in 1930 in the village of Khatyn.
Stayed at the children's home of Pleshinitsy. Studied at a military school, then at the Military Academy. Served in the armed forces. Then was a reserve lieutenant colonel. Died in 1994.

Baranovsky Anton Iosifovich, born in 1930 in the village of Khatyn.
Stayed at the children's home of Pleshinitsy. Then lived in Minsk and died tragically in 1969.

Kaminsky Iosif Iosifovich, born in 1887.
He lived in the village of Kozyry after the war. He often used to come to Khatyn when he was alive. Died in 1973 and was buried in Logoisk.


Approved by the executive committee of the regional council of the working delegates on May 26, 1969

Statement

May 26, 1969, a town of Logoisk

The members of the committee: SKORY P. P. - committee's chairman, deputy chairman of the executive committee of the regional council of the working delegates, SELIVANOVA M. E. - public prosecutor, SHEVEL A. A. — chairman of the department of propaganda of the regional committee of the Communist Party of Belarus, EGOROVA M. F. - an architect of the place, SAVRIZKY B. I. — regional inspector of the state statistics.
All these people together with those who survived the massacre of Khatyn were involved in obtaining more accurate information about the date of the disaster and the number of people burnt there.

They established the following facts:

  1. The village of Khatyn was burned by German fascist invaders on March 22, 1943 at 14. 00. 26 houses together with the farmsteads were burned. All the inhabitants were driven to a shed which was poured with benzine and set on fire. Those who tried to escape were killed.
  2. 149 (one hundred and forty - nine) peaceful Soviet citizens were burned alive:
    1. Zhelobkovich Andrei Ivanovich (born in 1897)
    2. Zhelobkovich Anna Vikentievna (born in 1905)
    3. Zhelobkovich Stepan (born in 1928)
    4. Zhelobkovich Anna (born in 1929)
    5. Zhelobkovich Sophia (born in 1933)
    1. Zhelobkovich Petr Antonovich (born in 1898)
    2. Zhelobkovich Stefanida Alekseevna (born in 1903)
    3. Zhelobkovich Olga (born in 1928)
    4. Zhelobkovich Stanislav (born in 1929)
    5. Zhelobkovich Raissa (born in 1932)
    6. Zhelobkovich Lidia (born in 1934)
    1. Zhelobkovich Roman Stepanovich (born in 1881)
    2. Zhelobkovich Stefanida Ivanovna (born in 1892)
    3. Zhelobkovich Viktor (born in 1933)
    4. Zhelobkovich Galina (born in 1935)
    1. Baranovsky Joseph Ivanovich (born in 1899)
    2. Baranovskaia Anna Vikentievna (born in 1906)
    3. Baranovsky Nikolai (born in 1928)
    4. Baranovsky Stanislav (born in 1929)
    5. Baranovsky Valdimir (born in 1931)
    6. Baranovsky Gennady (born in 1932)
    7. Baranovskaia Leonida (born in 1932)
    8. Baranovskaia Maria (born in 1933)
    9. Baranovskaia Sophia (born in 1934)
    10. Baranovskaia Elena (born in 1936)
    1. Novitsky Alexander Romanovich (born in 1896)
    2. Novitskaia Alexandra (born in 1901)
    3. Novitsky Leonid (born in 1928)
    4. Novitsky Evgeny (born in 1930)
    5. Novitskaia Maria (born in 1932)
    6. Novitskaia Anna (born in 1934)
    7. Novitsky Konstantin (born in 1938)
    8. Novitsky Anton (born in 1939)
    9. Novitsky Mikhail (born in 1941)
    1. Baranovskaia Sophia(born in 1895)
    2. Baranovskaia Vanda (born in 1918)
    3. Baranovskaia Anna (born in 1926)
    4. Baranovsky Nikolai (born in 1937)
  1. One of the houses house was burned to ground without any people inside.
    1. Zhydovich Savvely Kazimirovich (born in 1905)
    2. Zhydovich Elena Antonovna (born in 1908)
    3. Zhydovich Stepan (born in 1931)
    4. Zhydovich Kazimir (born in 1933)
    5. Zhydovich Adam (born in 1934)
    6. Zhydovich Nikolai (born in 1935)
    7. Zhydovich Viacheslav (born in 1936)
    8. Zhydovich Mikhail (born in 1938)
    9. Zhydovich Maria Antonovna (born in 1883)
    1. Kaminsky Ivan Iosifovich (born in 1892)
    2. Kaminskaia Olga Antonovna (born in 1896)
    3. Kaminsky Viacheslav (born in 1924)
    4. Kaminskaia Maria (born in 1928)
    5. Kaminsky Stanislav (born in 1932)
    6. Kaminskaia Anna (born in 1933)
    7. Kaminskaia Yuzefa (born in 1938)
    1. Kaminskaia Adelia (born in 1890)
    2. Kaminskaia Yadviga (born in 1922)
    3. Kaminsky Adam (born in 1928)
    4. Kaminsky Mikhail (born in 1930)
    5. Kaminskaia Vilia (born in 1932)
    6. Kunkevich Anton (born in 1912)
    1. Zhelobkovich Ivan Ivanovich (born in 1904)
    2. Zhelobkovich Sofia Antonovna (born in 1907)
    3. Zhelobkovich Vladimir (born in 1922)
    4. Zhelobkovich Lena (born in 1933)
    5. Zhelobkovich Leonid (born in 1939)
    6. Zhelobkovich Mikhail (born in 1941)
    7. Zhelobkovich Maria (born in 1885)
    8. Yaskevich Ivan Antonovich (born in 1904)
    9. Yaskevich Yulia Ivanovna (born in 1913)
    10. Yaskevich Sofia (born in 1933)
    11. Yaskevich Elena (born in 1935)
    12. Yaskevich Anna (born in 1939)
    13. Yaskevich Mikhail (born in 1941)
    1. Iotka Kazimir Feliksovich (born in 1896)
    2. Iotka Elena Stepanovna (born in 1898)
    3. Iotka Maria (born in 1925)
    4. Iotka Albert (born in 1928)
    5. Iotka Stanislav (born in 1931)
    6. Iotka Dominik (born in 1936)
    7. Iotka Regina (born in 1937)
    8. Iotka Stepan (born in 1939)
    9. Iotka Yuzefa (born in 1941)
    1. Zhelobkovich Efrosinia Ivanovna (born in 1883)
    2. Zhelobkivich Josef (born in 1904)
    3. Zhelobkovich Olga (born in 1909)
    1. Iotka Ivan Alexandrovich (born in 1904)
    2. Iotka Anastasia Stepanovna (born in 1908)
    3. Iotka Kazimir (born in 1935)
    4. Iotka Yuzefa (born in 1939)
    1. Rudak Maria Ivanovna (born in 1898)
    2. Miranovich Stefanida Klimentievna (born in 1875)
    1. Drazhynskaia Yuzefa Antonovna (born in 1911)
    2. Drazhynskaia Valentina (born in 1933)
    3. Drazhynskaia Mikhalina (born in 1938)
    4. Dovgel Anton Antonovich (born in 1888)
    5. Dovgel Boris (born in 1933)
    1. Miranovich Josef Iosifovich (born in 1898)
    2. Miranovich Fekla Nikolaevna (born in 1901)
    3. Miranovich Nina (born in 1925)
    4. Miranovich Fedor (born in 1934)
    5. Miranovich Petr (born in 1937)
    6. Miranovich Vasily (born in 1940)
    7. Miranovich Elena (born in 1941)
    1. Karaban Konstantin Ustinovich (born in 1897)
    2. Karaban Maria (born in 1900)
    3. Karaban Leokadia (born in 1928)
    4. Karaban Nadezhda (born in 1933)
    5. Karaban Konstantin (born in 1939)
    1. Fedarovich Anna Sidorovna (born in 1892)
    1. Karaban Petr Vasilievich (born in 1914)
    2. Karaban Elena Gavrilovna (born in 1925)
    1. Karaban Yulia Ambrosievna (born in 1878)
    2. Karaban Josef (born in 1918)
    3. Karaban Maria (born in 1923)
    4. Karaban Anna (born in 1923)
    5. Karaban Viktor (born in 1925)
    6. Karaban Vladimir (born in 1941)
    1. Yaskevich Anton Antonovich (born in 1896)
    2. Yaskevich Elena Sidorovna (born in 1895)
    3. Yaskevich Viktor (born in 1922)
    4. Yaskevich Vanda (born in 1923)
    5. Yaskevich Vera (born in 1924)
    6. Yaskevich Nadezhda (born in 1934)
    7. Yaskevich Vladislav (born in 1936)
    8. Yaskevich Tolik (7 weeks)
    1. Rudak Stefanida Antonovna (born in 1898)
    2. Rudak Zinaida (born in 1925)
    3. Rudak Aleksandr (born in 1932)
    4. Rudak Regina (born in 1934)
    5. Rudak Anton (born in 1938)
    1. Rudak Josef Iosifovich (born in 1874)
    2. Rudak Praskovia Ivanovna (born in 1877)
    3. Rudak Mikhial Iosifovich (born in 1905)
    4. Rudak Khristina (born in 1912)
    5. Rudak Sofia (born in 1938)
    6. Rudak Khristina (born in 1940)
    1. Fedarovich Josef Sidorovich (born in 1889)
    2. Fedarovich Petrunelia Ambrosievna (born in 1894)
    3. Fedarovich Maria (born in 1922)
    4. Fedarovich Anton (born in 1925)
    5. Fedarovich Josef Iosifovich (born in 1913)
    6. Fedarovich Yulia Antonovna (born in 1913)
    7. Fedarovich Ekaterina (born in 1938)
    8. Fedarovich Ania (born in 1940)
    1. Klimovich Anton Maksimovich (born in 1890)
    2. Klimovich Yulia (born in 1922)
    3. Klimovich Anton (born in 1926)
    4. Slonskaia Khristina Maksimovna (born in 1895)
    5. Sokolovsky Petr Leonovich (born in 1933)

Chairman of the committee is P. Skory

Members of the committee:
M. Selivanov
A. Shevel
M. Egorova
B. Savrizky

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