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September 16: One by One

September 16, 2013

All 24,000 Jewish inhabitants of Uman, Ukraine were assembled at the edge of the town’s airport and murdered between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. by Ukrainian militia under German supervision on this date in 1941. According to the post-war testimony of Wehrmacht Lieutenant Erwin Bingel, ditches had been dug, lime for mass graves had been brought to the site, and truckloads of Jews, summoned for a “census,” began to arrive. “One row of Jews was ordered to move forward and was then allocated to the different tables where they had to undress completely and hand over everything they wore and carried,” Bingel testified. “. . . Then having taken off all their clothes, they were made to stand in line in front of the ditches, irrespective of their sex. The commandos then marched in behind the line and began to perform the inhuman acts, the horror of which is now known to the whole world. With automatic pistols and 0.8 pistols these men mowed down the line with such zealous intent that one could have supposed this activity to have been their life work. . . .” Six days later, Bingel witnessed a second massacre of Jews in nearby VInnetsa, this time taking 28,000 lives. To read the entirety of his testimony in a Yad Vashem document, click here.

“The people in the first row thus having been killed in the most inhuman manner, those of the second row were now ordered to step forward. The men in this row were ordered to step out and were handed shovels with which to heap chloride of lime upon the still partly moving bodies in the ditch. Thereafter they returned to the tables and undressed. After that they had to set out on the same last walk as their murdered brethren, with one exception – this time the men of the alternative firing squad surpassed each other in cruelty, lest they lag behind their predecessors.” —Erwin Bingel