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The village of Koriukivka in Chernihiv region was surrounded by a Nazi punitive detachment early in the morning on March 1, 1943. "Under the pretext of checking documents, people were gathered to the premises of a restaurant, a land department, a theater, a club, a polyclinic, a children's clinic, two schools, a churchyard," Dmytro Vedeneev, Ph.D. in history, writes in an article for ZN.UA.
Then people were killed, group by group; 50-100 people were in one group, despite the sex and age.
This is how one of the most terrible tragedies of the Second World War happened. Historians call it the most large-scale killing of civilians, done by the Nazis. This murder, which by the number of victims exceeded Belarusian Khatyn, Czech Lidice, and French Oradour, has remained in the shadows for a long time.
After 75 years of the Koriukivka massacre, the event has become topical. At the beginning of February, Verkhovna Rada included it in the list of dates, remembered at the state level.
Historians continue to study the circumstances of this tragedy. Thanks to them, as well as the eyewitness, we can restore an approximate situation of what happened in Koriukivka, which became an unspoken symbol of Nazi atrocities in the Second World War.
In September 1941, in the vicinity of occupied by the Nazis Koriukivka, a partisan movement was born. It was headed by the future twice Hero of USSR Oleksiy Fedorov. Local residents maintained an active relationship with the partisans.
In February 1943, in revenge for helping partisans, the Nazis burned a number of settlements and arrested members of the underground families. As a result, dozens of captured women and children were waiting for their execution.
At that time, Oleksiy Fedorov was in Moscow. During his absence, the commander of the platoon of the partisans, Feodosiy Stupak, initiated an operation against the German garrison in Koriukivka, the purpose of which was the release of the detainees. The idea was supported by Mykola Popudrenko, who replaced Fedorov.
The purpose of the operation was carried out. Popudrenko stated in a radiogram to Moscow:
The garrison, which consisted mainly of Hungarian soldiers, was defeated. 8 trailers, 160 automobile tires, 2 garages, a mechanical workshop, metalworker’s shop, two winches, a fuel warehouse, a haystack, a warehouse with potatoes, a telephone station, firewood and defensive forest products were destroyed.
A train was blown up, 18 wagons were destroyed, railway arrows were disabled, and a track of 5 km in length was torn off.
A wooden bridge with a length of 8 meters was blown up, the house of the State Bank with a cash storage and communication was destroyed.
Trophies: two heavy machine guns, 119 rifles, 2500 rounds, grain, food, and oil.
Captives: four Hungarians and one German.
97 prisoners were released.
The initiator of the operation, Feodosiy Stupak, was killed during the attack.
On the morning of March 1, Koriukivka was surrounded by a punitive detachment of Nazis. Under the pretext of checking documents, the population was gathered in the theater, club, restaurant, school, churchyard.
After this, the residents in groups of 50-100 people were killed.
"Mother says:" Tolia, run away. But he did not listen. She took me by the hand quietly and we went out. Everyone realized that this was a war, but no one knew that they would kill them there," TSN quotes memories of an eyewitness Anna Nekovalna.
The next day, the houses that were full of corpses. They were set on fire. For two days, the Nazis were chasing the survivors and threw them into the fire.
According to historians, in particular, specialists of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, almost 7 thousand people were killed.
"For 70 years after the destruction of Koriukivka, witnesses to the tragedy, authorities, relatives, friends of the deceased, and historians managed to establish the names of only 1893 persons. Unfortunately, this is only 28% of all those killed during the punitive action," wrote Serhiy Butko from Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.
Ukrainian Institute of National Memory has announced who committed these massacres. The executor was the Snovsky garrison commandant's office of the Chernihiv region. It has formed a punitive detachment composed of German servicemen of the rear German formations, servicemen of the 105th Light Hungarian Division, members of the auxiliary occupation police and collaborators - citizens of the USSR.
The punitive detachment was led by the representatives of Sonderkommando 4A. One of the most famous of their crimes was the massacre of Jews in Babyn Yar.
The order for the destruction of Koriukivka and its inhabitants was given by Bruno Franz, chief of staff of the 399th main field commander's office in Konotop, Sumy region.
Butko writes that during the whole punitive action, the partisans of Fedorov remained in the forests for 15 km from Koriukivka.
They have not received an order from the command to save the civilians.
"In the normative documents of the Soviet guerrilla movement, where their tasks of struggle were formulated, there was even no mention of the need to protect the civilians from occupation terror. Soviet command of all levels (from the Kremlin and to the young commander) was aware of the systemic Nazi policy of repression against civilians, provoked by the actions of the Soviet partisans," he writes.
"Koriukivka did not fit into the Soviet canon of memory. It broke one of the basic myths about the war - the Soviet partisans as "people's avengers" who defended the local population at the cost of their own lives," the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory Volodymyr Viatrovich writes in a blog.
In March 2005, German Ambassador Dietmar Studemann arrived to pay homage to the memory of the deceased residents of Koriukivka.
"We, Germans, realize what Nazis have done on your land. All the grief and destruction that they brought, have finally destroyed themselves. After the destruction of Koriukivka, fascist Germany was also destroyed. Years have passed, both Germany and Koriukivka have revived, and Ukraine has become independent. The peoples of both countries shake hands over the graves of the dead, although our guilt is great. But human friendship is omnipotent, and this gives hope that war will not happen again, fascism will not revive..." Dietmar Studemann stated.
In Ukraine, the memory of the Koriukivka massacre victims was first marked in 2013 at the state level.
According to Cheline portal, in 2012, it was planned to build a whole memorial complex near Koriukivka (worth 1,8 million USD). A chapel worth of 75 thousand USD was built, two crosses were put, and more than 200 people were reburied. The construction of the Memorial Complex was stopped.
The situation when guerrillas were fighting against Nazi invaders, who revenge on civilians, and guerrillas cannot protect them, is typical for all Resistance movements during the Second World War.