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The International Institute for Holocaust Research

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Killing Sites Project

The Untold Stories: The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR

The online project of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, The Untold Stories: The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR, has recently been posted at Yad Vashem’s website.This project tells the story of the murder of Jews in the occupied areas of the former Soviet Union that began with the German invasion of the former USSR on 22 June 1941.

The Wehrmacht combat units were accompanied by four SS death squads (Einsatzgruppen A,B,C,D), whose mission was the immediate liquidation of all Jews Day after day, together with local collaborators, the Einsatzgruppen carried out this mission without restraint or compromise. From the Baltic regions in the north – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – across to Belorussia, Russia and Ukraine, and down to the borders of the Caucasian regions in the south, the death squads combed every area under their occupation for Jews.  Murdering each and every one they laid their hands on.  Entire families were often wiped out in a single day. The Jews were murdered in forests, Jewish cemeteries, anti-tank trenches, on the banks of and in the rivers themselves, and in pits dug along the way (mostly by the victims themselves). The horror was revealed in its entirety when the postwar Extraordinary Soviet Commission began to investigate Nazi crimes and discovered that entire communities of Jews had been completely destroyed. Their fate was recounted, in many cases, by local neighbors (some of them collaborators), as well as by the very few Jews who had survived the murder operations.

In “Untold Stories,” the fates of the mid-sized and smaller communities are revealed, as is documentation on the nearby murder sites in the German-occupied areas of the former Soviet Union. Of extreme importance too are descriptions of efforts made locally to commemorate the murdered Jews.

Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research has been intensively researching and identifying a vast amount of relevant documentation, photos and testimonies; so that this relatively neglected part of Holocaust historiography can now be told.