Chapter VI - B




Murder of Jews in Brona Gura



VASILY GROSSMAN and ELYIA ERENBURG, were outstanding Russian Jewish writers. During the communist period, they wrote and edited the "Black Book", which described the horrors perpetrated by the Germans (who, in the language of the communist system, were called Fascists), during the WWII.  The book was translated to Hebrew and published by the Editorial Am Oved, in 1991.


The following is from the Brest Chapter in the Black Book (pages 179/186 in the Hebrew translation), which describes the end of the Jews of Brest in the forests of Brona Gura together with people from different towns, including Kartus Bereza.


The preparations to carry out the liquidation and the way in which should it should be done, is written in an official document edited after the murders by a Council composed of representatives of the Soviet authorities, the partisans and inhabitants of the area of Brest. The Council was designated by: President: Archady Ivanovich Tarasavich. Its members included the President of the Council of the area of Berezov, Vassily Nicholayevich Buri; the representative of the partisans, Iván Parvlovich Kashtalian; and the representative of the area of Berezov, the comrade Ch. Novick.


A memorandum was prepared by the Council about the cruelties, the assaults, the sufferings and the destruction that the Fascist conquerors perpetrated in the forests of Brona Gura near Bereza. Is says, “after reviewing the territory where Soviet citizens were tortured and shot by the Fascist Germans, and through investigations carried out by other citizens on this matter, we reach the following conclusion”. 


Soviet citizens' massive liquidation


According to the plans prepared and carried out by Fascist conquerors in the forests of Brona Gura, between May and June of 1942 they dug graves on 16.800 (square) meters of land at a distance of 400 meters NE of the railroad station at Brona Gura.


Germans used peasants of the area to do this work, between 600 and 800 people daily. To speed up the work they used different explosive materials. By the middle of June of 1942, after digging the graves, Germans began to transfer Soviet citizens from different places in railroad boxcars to the Brona Gura station.  Citizens were also transferred from fields in Bereza, Brest, Dohitzin, Yanov, Horodetz and other places in Belarus. Some citizens were transferred on foot to the area of Brona Gura. The boxcars were overloaded and there were many who died in transit. When they arrived at the railroad crossing where military posts were, about 250 meters from the central station at Brona Gura, they stopped the boxcars close to the prepared graves and they discharged people in the area which was surrounded by barbed wire. They ordered the people to undress, to throw their clothes on the ground, and they were left stark naked. Then they drove them by a kind of narrow path between barbed wire fences toward the graves. The first ones descended to the graves by a stairway and were forced to lay face down, one next to another. After filling the first “layer”, Germans dressed in the uniforms of the ASD and SS shot them with automatic weapons.  . In the same way they filled the second and third layer until the graves were filled. The men, women and children’s screams were heart braking. After shooting all the citizens, their clothes and personal effects were loaded in the boxcars and the train took off for an unknown destination.


The arrival and discharge of people in the boxcars was carried out under the severe surveillance of the chiefs, named Pikeh and Schmidt (German origin) at the Brona Gura station. In order to erase all signs of the cruelties made in Brona Gura, Germans shot all the citizens (more than 1000 people) that inhabited the area which, in the past, was a military outpost. 


At the place where the terrible slaughter was done, there were seven large graves. The first was 63 meters long and 6,6 meters wide. The second was 36 meters long and 6.5 wide. The third was 36 meters long and 6 meters wide. The fourth was 37 meters long and 6 meters wide. The fifth was 52 meters long and 6 meters wide. The sixth was 24 meters long and 6 meters wide. The seventh was 16 meters long and 4.5 wide. All ranged from 3.5 to 4 meters deep.


From June until November of 1942, the Germans murdered more than 30.000 citizens in Brona Gura.


Sisters Katzav  wrote:

 October 14, 1942: the ghetto trembled. Something passed on the other side of the barbed fence. There were tumults. Large number of policemen asked, “What happened?” At dusk they dispersed and people calmed down a little. On October, 15 at 6am,.a neighbor woke us up and told us that the Ghetto was walled, and therefore new things happened. It is difficult to describe what had happened. Some hid in previously prepared caves, and those that did not have a place to hide, ran down the streets from one side to another like crazy people.


Comrade  Sikorsky wrote:

October 15, 1942 the Ghetto was surrounded by units of the SS and the ASD. At 6 am. the bloodletting began. The Hitlerist murderers entered the houses and, the women, old men and babies were dragged outside. They ordered them to stand in lines and they killed them .


The Germans used many cruel ways of causing painful suffering and death. These murderers did not have pity. This is told with clarity in the official document of the Council. Germans brought more than 100 citizens of diverse towns near Brest to the camp near the Bereza station with the objective of erasing all the signs of the cruelties done in 1944. They forced the citizens to open the graves and to burn the cadavers. The fire burned day and night for 15 days. They used wooden carts as fuel from 48 military posts and from barracks that were nearby. After the work of burning the cadavers was done, the Germans shot and burned the citizens. On this common grave, the Germans planted small trees. In some places there were remains of human bones that the fire did not consume.  Also there was women's hair, dresses, children's shoes, soviet silver coins, and boy's arms. Besides the evidence picked up by the members of the Council, there are people's testimonies like ROMAN STANISLABOVICH NOVIS, IVÁN VASILEVICH GOBIN, BORISLAV MICHAILOVICH SHETSHINSKY, GREGORY GREGORIEVICH YATZKEVICH and other witness who told all that their eyes saw.


Members of Soviet investigation team were taken to another terrible place about 50 meters from Smoliarka village in the area of Brona Gura and 70 meters from the Moscow - Warsaw road. In this document of the council it was stated, "Soviet citizens of the city of Bereza and of the villages of this area were transported in trucks to the graves, to a place. The sufferings and the slaughters of the peaceful inhabitants of the Smoliarka village was similar to those of the genocide in Brona Gura.  Five common graves were found and they all contained Soviet citizens. Each sepulcher had the same measures: 10 meters long, 4 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep. The genocide of Soviet citizens in the area of the Smoliarka village was carried out in September 1942. There they shot, according to eyewitness, about 1000 persons. The murders were confirmed by IVÁN IVANOVICH GANTZ, IVÁN STEPHANIVTZ GANTZ, ANDREI IVANOVITZ LEVKOVITZ, YOSEF YAKUBALVIICH KUTANIK and others.


Also written in the Black Book is the following, "In the document of the Commission we read these last words: In the Brona Gura area Germans destroyed the railroads, and other elements in the station. During the retreat, they blew up the tracks, set   the buildings on fire and destroyed the railroads using special machinery. The units that destroyed the railroads were called Fimashchug. The commandant was the German Captain Sporberg. The damage caused to the station of Brona Gura was considerate, in rubles 1,150,000. According to the investigation of witness and according to other data picked up in the Brest area, the Commission estimates that the genocide of Soviet citizens in Brona Gura and near Smoliarka, both of the Bereza area   was carried out by the ASD and SS headed by following people:


1. Chief of the Office of  Zonal Police in Brest, Mayor Rodhe (until the beginning of 1944). 

2. Chief of the Office of Zonal Police in Brest, Biger (from remainder of 1944 until the expulsion of the Germans from Brest). 

3. Chief of the First Police Station of the city of Brest, Levitant Hoffman 

4. Chiefs of the First Police Station of the city of Brest, Maister Holter, Maister Grober and Maister Bos. 

5. Chief of the Second Police Station of the city of Brest, Levitant Frizinger (until the beginnig of 1944). 

6. Chief of Police in Judicial Issues: S. D. Oubershpirer Zanatzky (German) 

7. Major of Judicial Police: Ivanovsky (Polish) 

8. Under commandant of ASD: Houbershturmphirer Tzibel. 

9. Chief of Gendarmerie "Gavitskomisariat" Captain Davarlain. 

10 In charge of evacuating murders: official of the ASD, Garik 

11 Chief of the Gendarmerie in Kartuz Bereza: Ouberlevitant Gross 

12 Official of the ASD: Griber, Wuntzman directly responsible for the murders. 


The signatures of the members of the Council were shown here 


These names were from memory by the eyewitness and they also added them to "The list of murderers that deserved the fair punishment that was given to them. 


The end of the notes from the Brest Chapter of the  "Black Book."