The Koryukivska tragedy is a national symbol of memory
1-2, 9 March, 1943
The Koryukivska tragedy is a crime against humanity
Koryukivka is the largest settlement in Europe, completely destroyed by the Nazis as part of a punitive operation during the Second World War.
In terms of the number of victims, the Koryukiv tragedy is almost 45 times higher than the Belarusian Khatyn, 41 times higher than the Czechoslovakian Lidice, and 12 times higher than the French Oradur.
The story of the tragedy. An excuse for a punitive operation
In February 1943, the Soviet partisan unit under the command of Oleksiy Fedorov returned from Bryansk region in Russia and settled in the Koryukiv forests in the Kamian farm.
It started collecting food in villages and actions against the occupiers. Later, the Nazis burned the villages of Huta Studenetska, Tikhonovichi, and part of Perelyub for this. First of all, the male part of the civilian population was shot. One of the measures taken by the occupation authorities against the partisans was the arrest of family members of the partisans in Koryukivka, who were probably planned to be executed later. It was at the request of the platoon commander of the partisan unit Feodosiy Stupak, whose two 12-13-year-old sons were also sent to the Koryukiv prison, and his wife was shot, that Mykola Popudrenko, who acted as commander during Fedorov's absence, gave the order to attack village.
On the night of February 27, 1943, partisans of Fedorov's unit defeated the German-Hungarian occupation garrison of Koryukivka, the remains of which survived only in the brick building of the hospital.
Mass murder of Koryukivka residents
In response to the Soviet partisan action with the aim of "revenge and intimidation", the Germans began to carry out the order of their leadership to destroy the town of Koryukivka.
For two days on March 1 and 2, a bloody massacre of the civilian population of Koryukivka continued. All the residents were driven into their houses in groups of 50-100 people under the pretext of checking documents and shot, and the houses were set on fire.
On March 1, up to 500 people were killed in a restaurant in the city center.
Yevhen Yukhimovych Rymar, one of those shot, survived and remembered it like this:
“My little daughter was lying on my chest when the damn executioners shot her there in the restaurant. Where the mass grave is now, there used to be a restaurant. They drove us there like cattle to the slaughterhouse and beat us with machine guns. I carried Nina in my arms. And the fascist shot me in the eye. I fell down, and he was going to hang on to me. Everything went dark in me, and I don't remember anything anymore. Three of my children were killed. It was not even possible to bury them: and I did not see the dead children, they were burned by the damned executioners. And nothing was left of my children. Even graves..."
By the end of the second day, the city had almost completely burned down. Eyewitnesses said that smoke and flames from the fires could be seen in Snovsk (that is, some 27 km away), Sosnytsia (some 50 km away), and Kholmy (25 km away).
On March 9, the Nazis returned to Koryukivka, finished off and burned everyone who hid or fled to the forest.
Was it possible to prevent this tragedy?
During the entire punitive action, which was carried out systematically from 09:00 a.m. to the end of the "working" day at 5:00 p.m., Fedorov's Soviet partisan unit, located in the forests 15 km from Koryukivka, remained in place. The ordinary partisans never received an order from the command to somehow help and save the civilian population of the city.
"The 1930s are forced collectivization, Holodomor, Stalinist repressions. The regime had to prove that all those repressions were nothing compared to the German atrocities," Andriy Naumenko, researcher at the Koryukiv Historical Museum.
Consequences of the Nazi crime in Koryukivka: about 7,000 residents were killed. In the Act of the Chernihiv Regional Commission for Establishing and Investigating the Crimes of the German-Fascist Invaders in Koryukivka dated December 17, 1943, it is stated that on March 1 and 2, 1943, according to calculations, 6,700 people were killed, 1,290 houses were burned, and only 10 brick houses survived.
For 70 years after the destruction of Koryukivka, witnesses of the tragedy, authorities, relatives, friends and acquaintances of the victims, historians and local historians managed to identify only 1,893 victims by name. Unfortunately, that's just it 28% all those killed during the punitive action.
Honoring the memory
Materials of the Institute of National Memory:
Video materials about the Koryukivska tragedy:
"Siver Center" (2018)
You can watch more videos about the Koryukivska tragedy here.
Every year, the people of Koryukiv honor the memory of their fallen compatriots, carry flowers and lamps to the monument in the center of the city and to the Gai tract, where the remains of the victims of the tragedy are reburied.