‘The last Jew in Vinnitsa’

One of the iconic images of the 20th century let alone the war or the Holocaust. Found in a German's photograph album with the words
'The last jew in Vinnitsa' written on the back.

There were two mass shootings in Vinnitsa, on the 16th September, and the other on 22nd September. A subsequent massacre of Jews appears to have been of Jews brought in from outside the district. This is the evidence for the date of this photograph. There was one eye witness to the procedure involved.

Wehrmacht officer Lieutenant Erwin Bingel had been ordered to assist the Commandant of Uman district with men to guard the railway lines and around the airport. He was aware that ditches had been dug on the perimeter of the airfield and a number of specialist SS men had arrived by transport plane.

The Jews of the area had been ordered to gather for a ‘census’.

The result of this proclamation was, of course, that all persons concerned appeared as ordered. This relatively harmless summons, it was thought, could be connected in some way or other with the preparations we were observing. It was because we took the matter so lightly that we were all the more horrified at what we witnessed during the next few hours.

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.

Some still carried jewellery which they had to put on the table. 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.

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 …

A more complete account can be found at the Holocaust Research Project.

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