Translated by Jerrold Landau
The Jewish settlement in Minsk began in the 15th century. A separate Jewish community, recognized by the Lithuanian council, already appeared in Minsk in 1623. The first Jewish yeshiva was founded in Minsk in 1684. With the passage of time, Minsk became a recognized and prominent center of Torah, to which Jews streamed from all corners of Poland and Lithuania.
There were 1,322 Jews in Minsk in 1766. In 1802, there were 2,716 in Minsk, and there were 41 Jews among the 96 merchants of the city.
The growth and development of the Jewish settlement of Minsk took place in massive proportions. Throughout the 19th century, the Jewish settlement of the city grew more than 17-fold. According to the census of 1897, there were 47,562 Jews in Minsk, comprising 52.3% of the population of the city.
It must be noted that the level of growth of the Jewish population in the district of Minsk in general, and in the city of Minsk in particular, was much greater than in any other region of the Pale of Settlement. During the latter half of the 19th century, the growth of the Jewish population in the 9 western districts of Russia (Vilna, Vitebsk, Volhyn, Grodno, Kiev, Kovno, Mohilev, Podolia, and Minsk) was as follows:
|District||Jewish Population||Growth During
|All Districts Aside from Minsk||860,120||2,277,538||1,417,418||164|
|District of Minsk||87,633||345,015||257,382||294|
|Within the city of Minsk||12,976||47,562||34,586||367|
Comparatively, Byelorussia, including the District of Minsk, took first place with respect to Jewish population within the Pale of Settlement. The density of the Jewish population of Russia by district in 1897, as a percentage of total population in the district, was as follows:
|Fifteen Districts of the Russian Pale of Settlement||10.8%|
|Of these: Ukraine||9.2%|
|Byelorussia and Lithuania||14.1%|
|Of the above: District of Minsk||16.0%|
According to the population census of 1897, Minsk was one of the largest Jewish settlements
in Russia. It was fourth place in terms of actual Jewish population: Odessa -- 138,915 Jews, Vilna -- 63,996; Kishinev 50,237; Minsk -- 47,562; Yekatrinoslav -- 40,009; Vitebsk -- 34,420; Kiev -- 31,801; Zhitomir -- 30,718; Kremenchug 29,869.
It is appropriate to note that in 1897, Minsk was the largest Jewish settlement in terms of percentage of Jewish population. The Jewish population as a percentage of total population in the other large Jewish cities was as follows:
To analyze the development of the Jewish population of Minsk during the Soviet era, it is first necessary to verify the Jewish population of Russia in general, and Byelorussia and Minsk in particular, according to the censuses of 1897 and 1926.
Great changes took place in the Jewish population of Russia during those 30 years.
|Jewish Population in
|Change in 1926
relative to 1897
|Entire Soviet Union||2,572.7||2,672.0||+99.3||+3.9|
|Of this: Ukraine||1,644.5||1,565.5||-79.0||-4.8|
From the above numbers, we see that the Jewish population in the Soviet Union (within the borders that existed until September 17, 1939), grew by less than 100,000 people,
that is, by 3.9%. If we take into account the estimated natural increase of the Jewish population of that era, the Jewish population during those 30 years declined by no less than 750,000 people.
As is known, there were two factors for this: the significant emigration of Jews to North America and other lands, and the pogroms against the Jews. There are no detailed statistics regarding this. According to the estimation of the statisticians, the Jewish settlement of Russia lost approximately 650,000 people to emigration (factoring in the estimated natural increase of the émigrés), and 100,000 as a result of the pogroms.
The situation in specific sections of the Soviet Union was different. In Ukraine, the Jewish population declined by 79,000 people, or 4.8%. However, the Jewish population of Byelorussia declined by more than 110,000 people, or 21.3%. Factoring in the natural increase during this period, the Jewish population in Byelorussia declined by no less than 260,000 people, or more than 50%
Such a large decline of the Jewish population of Byelorussia was not only a result of these two aforementioned factors -- the immigration to other countries and the pogroms against the Jews -- which led to a decline in the Jewish population throughout Russia. Another important factor was operating at a large-scale in Byelorussia -- the flow of internal migration that began intensively after the 1917 revolution. This refers to the large-scale migration of Jews to the large centers of the Russian federation.
During that period, only the Jewish population of Moscow and Leningrad grew by more than 190,000 people, or more than 8 fold.
|Moscow||8,473||132,000||More than 15 fold|
|Leningrad||17,251||84,503||More than 5 fold|
|Both cities||25,7243||216,50||More than 8 fold|
Of course, the massive growth of the Jewish population of Moscow and Leningrad did not occur only at the expense of the Jews of Byelorussia. However, it is possible to state without doubt that the stream of migration from Byelorussia was relatively much larger than from other places.
According to a theoretical calculation, the number of Byelorussian Jews who left Byelorussia for other areas of the Soviet Union by the end of 1926 was more than 120-130 thousand people, or half of the calculated growth during the period of 1897-1926.
Such a large internal migration of the Jews of Byelorussia was not a coincidental phenomenon. The economic recession in Byelorussia, the lack of natural resources in the district, the agrarian character of Byelorussia with very primitive agricultural methodologies caused a large-scale internal migration within the non-Jewish population as well. From the 20 year period (1896-1915), 560,000 farmers set out for Siberia from the districts of Minsk, Mohilev and Vitebsk. Of course, the economic situation of Byelorussia left
its stamp on the economic status of the Jewish population, and created a unique Jewish professional structure within the population of Jewish livelihood earners. In 1897, 39% of the Jewish livelihood earners were involved in commerce. More than 35% were involved with what was termed industry, which was also specifically Jewish -- primarily hand working in the fields of shoemaking, tailoring, and other areas that served the local population. It must be noted that the number of livelihood earners among the Jewish population in Byelorussia was very low, only reaching 29% in 1897.
The flow of internal migration of the Jewish population of Byelorussia was already very intensive during the first years of Soviet rule. According to the census of 1926, the number of Jews had changed as follows with respect to the beginning of 1923 -- that is, within a period of less than four years:
|Change in Jewish Population in 1926
relative to 1923
|Russia and other areas
of the Soviet Union
Byelorussia was the only district in which the Jewish population declined by 3.8%. If we take the natural increase over the four years into account, the decline would be approximately 42,000 people, or 10%.
If one examines the Jewish population dynamics of Byelorussia during the four years of 1923-1926 by type of settlement, the picture is as follows:
|Number of Jews in
|+- in actual numbers||+- in percentage|
|Towns and village settlements||168.9||150.2||-18.7||-28.8||-11.1||-17|
As we can see from this table, the decline in Jewish population in the towns and villages was very large. There was a constant stream of internal migration from the small towns. However, there was a noticeable exodus of Jewish residents even in the district cities, in which the Jewish population grew by 3.2%. As we see from the above table, the population of the district cities declined by 3.1% when one factors in the estimated theoretical natural increase.
The situation in Minsk was entirely different. During the four years of 1923-1926, the Jewish population of Minsk grew at a higher rate than the estimated natural increase. We see this from the following statistics of the population dynamics of Minsk:
|Number of residents in the city||1923||48,312||62,614|
|As a percentage of the population||1923||43.6||56.4|
|Natural increase per thousand people||15.3||23|
|Estimated increase over 4 years||2,936||5,796|
|Actual increase over 4 years||5,374||15,228|
|Excess of actual increase over estimated increase||2,438||9,432|
The above numbers demonstrate that the growth of the non-Jewish population in the city was three times that of the Jewish population. Similarly, we see that in relative terms, the Jewish population of Minsk declined from 43.6% to 40.8%. However, along with this, we must note that Minsk was the only city in Byelorussia where the city grew not only due to natural increase, but also due to migration from the smaller cities, primarily from towns and village settlements.
As the capital of Byelorussia, Minsk became the political and administrative center of the republic, and also began to turn into a large economic center, in which new and important branches of industry began to develop (even based upon raw materials that were brought from other regions of the Soviet Union). New sources of livelihood were formed. The social composition of the livelihood earners in Minsk was much better than in other places of Byelorussia. Thus, of the total population of Jewish livelihood earners in 1926, there are:
of the Jewish
|For all of
|For all regions of
|All other Livelihood Earners||66.4||68.8||52|
The socio-economic situation of the Jewish population of Minsk will be dealt with in greater detail in its own chapter. Here, we have brought a few numbers only to demonstrate that the Jews in Minsk had attained a better economic status than in others areas of Byelorussia. Therefore, the city became an attractive force, and it absorbed a certain number of Jews from other settlements.
Unfortunately, we do not have specific numbers regarding the Jews who entered and left Minsk. Such numbers surely existed. However, we can definitely ascertain that both flows took place simultaneously. During the time from the end of the 18th century until the beginning of the Soviet regime, the exodus from the city was predominant. During the first decade of Soviet rule, without doubt the Jewish migration into Minsk was predominant.
When analyzing the dynamics and the development of the large Jewish settlement in Minsk, it is necessary to stress once again two important points:
Unfortunately, we do not have statistical data regarding the development of the Jewish community of Minsk after the 1926 census. According to the information of the 1939 census, we only know the number of Jews in the entire Soviet Union as well as in each separate republic.
When we analyze the dynamics of the Jewish population in the Soviet Union according to the 1939 census, we see that the trend of internal migration of the Jewish population continues intensively -- in a smaller scale in Ukraine and in a larger scale in Byelorussia.
|Number of Jews in
|R.S.F.S.R and other areas||699.4||1,112||+412.6||59.0|
|Entire Soviet Union||2,672||3,020||+348||+13.0|
Within a period of 12 years, the Jewish population dropped by 32,000 people. Taking into account the natural increase of that period (estimated at 13%, based on the Jewish population in the Soviet Union as a whole), the Jewish population of Byelorussia dropped by close to 85,000 people, or more than 20%.
We do not have numbers regarding the decline in Jewish population by types of settlement, as we do have from the census of 1926. Therefore, it is impossible to break down the changes in Jewish population by settlement type.
In his book Haam haMechudash (The Renewed People), L. Singer sorts the Jewish population into two types of settlements: the city population and the village population. Singer includes the town population, comprising 25% of the entire Jewish population of Byelorussia, within the city population.
However, it is possible to state conclusively that the mass internal migration came primarily from the towns, villages, and smaller cities, where masses of Jews lost their sources of livelihood in a definitive fashion and were forced to move from their established places of residence and wander to new regions. It is possible to state definitively that the flow of Jewish migration to Minsk during the period of 1926-1939 was quite heavy, and exceeded the exodus from Minsk, which doubtlessly existed as well.
In his book The Jewish Kibbutz and Agricultural Settlement in Soviet Byelorussia (1918-1932) Ch. Shamrok includes interesting numbers that specify the new places of residence of the Jews who migrated from the towns of Byelorussia. In 1931, for example, 1,309 Jews left from 12 towns to the following destinations:
|1.||Other places in Byelorussia (we can surmise that this was to large cities)||52.5%|
|2.||The Russian Republic||27.9%|
|5.||Other places in the Soviet Union||1.2%|
It seems that it can be conclusively stated that the majority of those who went to other places in Byelorussia settled in Minsk. This is confirmed from another interesting table that points out the destinations of 236 youths who left the town of Uzda in 1929:
|Moscow and Leningrad||54|
|Mohilev, Vitebsk, and other cities||35|
As we can see, 53% of the youth who left Uzda settled in Minsk.
According to the census of 1939, the population of Minsk was 238.8 thousand people. In other words, the population of the city had grown by 82% within 12 years.
According to the estimation of various researchers, on the eve of the Second World War, the Jewish population of Minsk was close to 90,000 people. We can surmise that this significant growth within the 12 year period of 1926-1939, of a magnitude of close to 40,000 people or more than 70%, came to a large degree from the large stream of refugees from Poland as well as other areas of Soviet army occupation in September, 1939.
According to the census of 1959, the population of Minsk was 509,489, including only 38,842 Jews, or 7.6% of the population.
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Without doubt, the percentage of earners was an important measure. Nevertheless, it does not fully characterize the economic makeup of the population. We must stress that the number of livelihood earners also includes those who lacked employment but had sporadic income, as well as those who did not work a full workday or work week. It even included some who were unemployed. For example, in 1926, there were 2,694 unemployed people in Minsk out of a total of 20,991 livelihood earners (12.8% of the livelihood earners).
Above, we have seen the specific professional makeup of the Jewish livelihood earners in general terms. Nevertheless, this requires additional, more detailed elucidation.
The population census of 1897 shows:
From the Jewish related statistics, we can see a picture of the professional makeup of the Jewish population of Russia. Jewish professions existed that were created by historic factors, and in which the Jews took the first place (tailoring, for example). Jews were represented in particularly small numbers, in any case much less than their relative proportion within the general population, in the first tier of professions that were especially developed and were important in the economic development of the state.
When we analyze this phenomenon with respect to the realities of Minsk, we must note that every branch of labor in the city
was Jewish in essence. There was nothing that was known as heavy manufacturing in Minsk. The area of labor was handcrafting in essence. Smiths, locksmiths and other such trades formed the primary representation within the metal working branch. 43.4% of those who earned their livelihoods in the trades were involved in the clothing branch. Therefore, the Jews took the decisive role in almost all these trades. Whereas the Jews formed 52.3% of the population, and in the trades they formed 71.2%, their participation was especially small in only 4 areas of manufacturing:
The economic situation of the Jews of the city was difficult. Many people received help from the various philanthropic organizations. According to information from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1,719 Jewish families, or 17.2% of the Jewish families of the city, requested assistance for Passover in 1898. The organization for assistance of the Jewish poor helped 1,050 people with money and 925 people with goods and provisions in 1905. The organization for assistance of the Jewish sick offered medical assistance to 5,000 sick Jews that year. There was a low-price kitchen next to the main synagogue. A soup kitchen also operated in which the Jewish poor would eat on Sabbaths and festivals.
What changes took place in the socio-economic makeup of the Jewish population of Minsk during the Soviet era?
After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a unique socio-economic problem affected the entire Jewish population of Russia, of course including Minsk the problem of changing the social status of the Jewish population. This problem was created as a result of the specific social makeup of the Jewish population from one side; and from the other side by the Soviet policies that manifested themselves already during the first years following the revolution, which were directed against those who were known as the bourgeois classes.
The merchants were designated as bourgeois. This designation included not only the first tier, large-scale merchants. Even the small-scale merchants who owned tiny stores, where they worked alone with their wives, were included in the bourgeois class. A tradesman who had one hired worker was called bourgeois. A tradesman who worked very hard himself was known as petite bourgeois. All of these groups, the bourgeois and the petite bourgeois, who together with their families made up more than 2/3 of the Jewish population, were forced to liquidate their sources of livelihood and to search for work and new sources of livelihood or, as it was termed, to turn themselves into productive persons.
According to the census of 1926, the social makeup of the Jewish population was as follows (in percentages):
|1. Proletariat (workers, officials, unemployed, pensioners)||46.8||44.0||75.0||70.7||64.7|
|2. Non-proletariat workers (free professions, owners with assistance from family members, individuals)||32.0||37.2||10.8||11.3||18.2|
|3. Bourgeois (owners with employees, merchants, those without a designated source of livelihood, those who do not sustain themselves through work income)||17.3||15.4||6.4||7.4||10.4|
|Those who lost their status||.4||0.4||0.03||0.05||0.3|
The table shows that the process of liquidation of what was known as the Capitalist economy was progressing in full force already during the first years of Soviet rule. In Minsk, this process was progressing with far greater energy than in the rest of Byelorussia and Ukraine. The social makeup of the Jewish population of the city was similar in composition to that of the Jewish population of Moscow and Leningrad, where large Jewish populations were formed during the Soviet era.
During six years of Soviet rule (1921-1926), the number of merchants declined by a factor of three, and the number of owners with employees was liquidated almost entirely, reaching to only 306 people, or 1.4% of the livelihood earners. It is difficult to verify the division of population by branch of work from the data from the censuses of 1897 and 1926, since the censuses were not conducted by the same principles. Nevertheless, when we compare the groupings from 1897 to 1926, we can verify some branches of work. The following picture is drawn:
|Number of Livelihood Earners||18,145||20,991||18,514||31,715|
|Labor and building||7,664||7,693||3,094||5,027|
|Jurists; teachers; literary, art and scientific workers; doctors and health care workers||761||1,270||938||1,922|
|Government and cooperative commerce||--||1,691||--||1,377|
This table shows:
The professional makeup of the participants in the various branches of trade and building is illustrative. The following table shows data with respect to 11 primary manufacturing areas, covering 96% in 1897 and 85% in 1926 of participants in this sector of the economy:
|Jews||Gentiles||Percent of Jews
in the Profession
|Printing and Paper||411||743||97||286||72.2||80.9|
From this table, we learn: a. The total number of participants in the 11 primary manufacturing occupations listed in this table grew by 4.7% during the 30 year period. However, with respect to Jews, the number shrank by 12%; whereas with respect to gentiles, it increased by 46%. The relative proportion of Jews among the participations of the aforementioned primary occupations declined from 71.5% to 60.2%. b. The proportion of the various occupations changed significantly both in terms of numbers and proportion. For example, the number of metal workers grew by 78%, the number of hide workers grew by a factor of 7, and the number of tailors declined by a factor of 3. c. The point made by the statisticians of the Yevsektsia that a process of blurring of what was termed the distinctness of the Jewish professional makeup already began during the first period of Soviet rule is contradicted. On the contrary, the table shows that this distinctness became even more pronounced in Minsk, as is demonstrated by the percentages of Jews in various professions:
A unique situation existed with the makeup of the Jewish working youth. We have definitive facts from the survey conducted by the popular commissary for the preservation of health in Byelorussia in 1925. The survey encompasses the working youth until the age of 20, and also includes the youth who were studying at professional schools. The unemployed and the students of the technical schools and high schools were not included in the survey. The survey took place in all district cities and larger cities. Therefore, we can assume that the Jewish working youth, who were centered in the cities, were almost entirely encompassed by this survey, and that the data demonstrates the composition of the Jewish youth during that time. The following data demonstrates the professional makeup of the working youth of Byelorussia:
Unfortunately, we do not have exact numbers regarding the professional composition of the Jewish working youth in Minsk itself. However, we have basis to assume that the aforementioned numbers typifying all the cities of Byelorussia including Minsk are also valid for Minsk itself.
What does the above table teach us?
a. The Jewish working youth until the age of 20 comprised 58.6% of the working youth of Byelorussia. If we take into account that the Jewish population of the cities and urban settlements form 44.1% of the population, the number of working Jewish youth is relatively large. This was certainly the case in the city of Minsk itself.
This phenomenon can be explained by the unique economic process that was taking place among the Jewish population at that time. The process of the liquidation of the large class of merchants, who were literally pushed out of their economic status and remained without a source of livelihood, forced the children of the merchants to search for what was known as productivity. They began to stream en masse to workshops as apprentices and to trade schools in order to obtain some sort of trade.
This hypothesis is confirmed by analyzing the age composition of the Jewish and gentile working youth. According to the aforementioned survey, the relative age composition is illustrated as follows:
|Youth below the
age of 15, and
15, 16, 17
|Youth 18, 19, and
older than 19
These numbers demonstrate that the rush to make arrangements and search for livelihood was significantly greater among the youngest segment of Jewish youth (age 15-17) than among the gentile youth of the same age. We must note that aside from the aforementioned factor that led a large stream of Jewish youth to what was called productivity; there was another important factor the restriction of the acceptance of the children of the foreign streams and the children of the Lycentzes to the second level of school. This was due to an official directive of the government authorities.
In the Minsk regional convention of Jewish cultural workers that took place in January 1930, the question of increasing supervision over the acceptance of children to school was discussed. It was determined that: the places accepted at the beginning of the school year demonstrate clearly that a stringent social selection was taking place in the acceptance of students to the fifth grade. Nevertheless, there were cases where the directive was not carried out, and the children of merchants and other foreign strata were accepted. It is our duty to stringently actualize the social class situation in the arena of the school.
b. Secondly, the aforementioned numbers show us that the Jewish working youth were primarily involved in handiwork. The Jewish working youth formed the decisive majority in the manufacturing of clothing, shoes, and the like. Many of the Jewish youth worked in the printing and food industries. The survey shows that there was not one Jewish worker in the railway. This is additional confirmation that the hypothesis of the Yevsektsia that Soviet rule had abolished what was known as Jewish professions was baseless. The fact that Jewish youth of age 15, 16, 17 could not penetrate into the railway industry
or the factories and enterprises of heavy industry, and were forced to the traditional workshops of tailors and shoemakers, cannot be explained as an inheritance from the days of the Czar.
Not in vain does was the compiler of the aforementioned information required to state: In this manner, we see the economic aspirations of specific national groups for specific trades, created under the influence of complex social and economic factors, were preserved among the circles of the youth to a significant degree.
We must also examine the characteristics of the Jewish managers in Minsk. According to the census of 1926, they numbered 5,568 people, or 26.5% of the Jewish livelihood earners. At that time, the Jewish managers comprised 32% of the managers in the city.
The breakdown of the Jewish officials by industry was as follows:
|As a percentage|
|Branch of industry||Number of
|Of the total
|Of the total
|Commerce and Credit||1,562||28.1||56.0|
|Home and hand-
According to profession or area of employment, the breakdown of Jewish supervisors was as follows:
|As a percentage|
|Of the total
|Of the total
|Medical and healthcare
From the aforementioned numbers, we see that the Jewish managers had the upper hand in home based manufacturing and hand-working, factory manufacturing and commerce. Jews were employed to a lesser degree in the institutions, and to a very small degree in other branches of industry (communications, telephone, telegraph, security services, etc.). According to profession or employment, Jews had the upper hand among the estate managers, and they had a recognizable place in the other areas of industry. However, there were specific professions in which very few or no Jews at all were employed: 
|Telegraph and telephone
During the first years of Soviet rule, the Jews played a prominent role in the party, professional and Soviet apparatus in Byelorussia in general, and in Minsk in particular.
Here are some numbers that demonstrate this:
|Technical party apparatus||85||48.3|
|Delegates to the party conventions||75||50.7||140||47.9|
|Central apparatus of interdisciplinary bodies||44||77.2||36||66.6|
|Regional divisions of professional organizations||87||49.4||93||57.1|
|Directors of commissaries||92||39.2|
|Other commissary officials||1,938||30.4|
|Delegates to the republic conventions||52||24.2||66||26.4|
|Members of the central committee||17||34.0||36||37.9|
To our great dismay, we have no official statistics that delineate the participation of Jews in the party, professional and Soviet apparatuses during the 1930s. However, it is known to all and can be established beyond doubt that during the latter half of the 1930s, the acceptance of Jews into the management apparatuses began to become more restricted.
It is impossible to provide detailed numbers of the social and professional makeup of the
Jewish population of Minsk during the years following the census 1926, since such classified information was not published. However, it is possible to establish with certainty the processes that were unfolding.
During the 1930s, there was already a decisive liquidation of what was known as the capitalist stream of economy. That means that merchants, business owners with hired workers, and independent tradesman ceased to exist as socio-economic sectors.
The process of industrialization and the resulting proliferation of factory workers was speedier in Byelorussia and especially in Minsk than in other parts of the Soviet Union. During the years 1919-1928, the growth in the number of factories was: 9% throughout the Soviet Union, 8.3% in Ukraine, 10.7% in Moscow, and 20.8% in Byelorussia.
During the five years following the 1926 census, the increase in factory workers was as follows:
As we see, the total number of factory workers grew by a factor of 2.3 during the five years. There was a similar level of growth among the Jewish workers.
The changes in the national composition of the factory workers during the years 1926-1930 in the various branches of industry is also illustrative. We see this from the following table::
|Clothing and shoes||674||5,430||39||2,374|
The changes in the fields of clothing and shoe making, composed of the producers of tailoring, shoe products and socks, were especially prominent. In 1926, only 713 workers were employed in this field; whereas in 1930, there were 7,804 workers. This significant growth in manufacturers began due to the fact that the clothing industry we rebuilt on a high technical foundation and was expanded through new upbuilding. (In the years 1925-1926, they began to build a large factory for clothing and another large factory for shoes. These factories began to operate in 1929.) Within five years, the number of Jewish workers in this field grew to 4,756 Jews and 2,335 gentiles. Relatively, the number of Jewish workers grew by a factor of 7, and the number of gentile workers grew by a factor of 60. In other words, at first, there were
virtually no gentile workers, whereas by 1930 they had reached 30%.
In 1930, for everyone 100 factory workers in Byelorussia, there were the following numbers of workers in the fields of clothing and shoes: Jews 34; Russians 10.3; Poles 8.3; Byelorussians 7.8. In the Menshevy clothing factory of Minsk, there were 830 workers in 1929, including 631 Jews, or 76%.
During the five years, the general number of workers of the textile industry grew by 437 people, or 17%. The number of Jewish workers shrank by 234 people, or 24%.
In the chemical industry, the number of Jewish workers grew by 4,193 people, of whom only 1,225 were Jews.
In the mineral industry, the number of gentile workers grew by 2,279 people in this era, and the number of Jews only by 299. The Jews comprised only 8.5% of this field.
There were 4,750 factory workers in Minsk in 1926. Of them, there were 2,285 Jews, or 48.1%. We do not have specific information about the number of Jewish workers at the end of the 1920s and the 1930s. Incidental information from newspapers shows that alongside the significant economic development in Minsk and increase in factory workers, the actual number of Jewish workers also grew. However, we can definitely state that their proportion shrank significantly, since the serious level of economic development in Minsk was primarily built upon the large influx of the gentile rural population to the city.
Thus, for example, there were the following numbers of Jews in five factories in Minsk in 1935:
In total, Jews comprised 34.3% of the workers in these five factories. There were 30,000 workers in Minsk at the end of 1937. There is reason to estimate that the number of Jewish workers in the city was 10,000 at the time.
In his book The Renewed People, L. Singer establishes that, according to the 1929 census, the social composition of the Jewish population in the Soviet Union was as follows: workers and managers 71.2%; Kolkhozes 5.8%; workers in cooperatives 16.1%; non cooperatives 4%, others 2.9%. We would not be too far off the mark if we estimate that approximately 80% of the Jewish livelihood earners in Minsk were workers and managers at the eve of the Second World War, whereas approximately 20% were tradesman organized in cooperatives. Aside from the cooperatives, there were only isolated people in the city.
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