belarus_sig.jpg (14193 bytes)

Belarus SIG  All Belarus Database  Belarus Static Index  Grodno  Minsk  Mogilev  Vilna  Vitebsk  Belarus Resources  Online newsletter  Shtetls of Belarus  Archival records  Given names database  How to use this website  Current Projects  Membership  How to help  JewishGen-erosity  Contact us

The Holocaust in Belarus: Ivye

by Leonid Smilovitsky
Ivye, originally on pp 178-9
translation donated by Peter Duffy

Within two weeks after occupying the town, the Nazis began ordering Jews to do unthinkable jobs: cleaning mud off the streets with their bare hands, carrying heavy rocks from one place to another, and firewood from the forest to Ivye over a distance of 5 kilometers at the rate of 30 kilometers per day.  The first pogram took place on August 2, 1941.  They rounded up men aged 20 to 60 who had intellectual experience, i. e. accountants, bookkeepers, teachers, technicians, and certified specialists (220 people). They beat them and then took them in the direction of Stonevichi, 2 kilometers from Ivye, and executed them.  According to the testimony of Shmaya Bloch, 50 Jews were ordered to carry a broken-down car.  SS soldiers escorted them and beat them on the head with clubs and whips.  Blood filled their eyes, but the Germans kept shouting "Faster, faster!"

In February 1942, the Germans set up the ghetto into which they sent three thousand people.  They enclosed it with barbed wire and guarded it securely.  It was prohibited to leave the ghetto without a permit, and violators were threatened with death.  When one Jewish girl tried to leave (she is unnamed in the documents - L. S.), the Germans executed her together with six members of her family, and soon two additional members were executed for this "transgression".  In spring 1942, five hundred Jews were sent to Yuratishkia, 14 kilometers from Ivye, and were ordered to move a broken-down tank.  This task took 2 days, and whoever broke down was executed on the spot by their escorts.

The extermination operation in Ivye took place on May 12, 1942.  A Gestapo unit arrived from Lida for this purpose.  They ordered the Jews to gather at the market square under the pretext of an examination of passports.  A German officer appeared, and reported about an operation to punish 27 thousand Jews of the Lida district for stealing weapons.  After this, the Jews were led out in groups for selection onto the street next to the Polish church.  They separated those who were able-bodied, and killed the rest with bayonets, burning them in a pit next to the church.  Many of them lost their self-control within 100 meters of this road, and approached the pit half dead (This is in the document - L. S.).  The Nazis treated the men with particular cruelty.  They executed groups of 10-15 people, and threw children into the pit alive.  They executed the ill and exhausted on the spot.  They did not kill the wounded, and just left them in the pit with the dead (2,500 people).  When the grave was filled, they ordered 50 Jews to cover it up.  Many were still alive, and were lying with the dead, trying to get free and calling for help.  The Jews who were gravediggers asked to spare those who had escaped during the execution.  However, the Germans were unmoved.  They filled up the grave with earth and added on a layer of quicklime.  Those remaining alive were taken back to the ghetto and used for various jobs.  According to one report, the ghetto continued to exist until the end of December 1942, and according to another report, it was liquidated on January 17, 1943.  The place of the extermination of the rest of the Jews of Ivye is not known.  Some witnesses attest that they were taken away in cares to the Gavye railway station, where they were loaded onto freight cars and sent off to parts unknown.  Others attest that the Jews were sent to Borisov, a third to Molodechno, a fourth to Lida, and thence to the Majdanek death camp in Poland.

According to the Regional Aid Commission of the USSR of Ivye and the Ivye Region, a total of 2,621 people perished, including 1,424 women and 626 children.  When the mass grave in the vicinity of the village of Stonevichi at the southern end of the forest (document dated April 3, 1945)  was examined, there were 2,524 bodies, including those of children aged 3 to 6 months.

Gestapo officers Lieutenant Adolf Werner and Hans Windisch took an active role in the operation, as did Ivye police official Sergeant-Major Albert Schober, commissioned officer Karol Fox, trooper Bunke, privates Blyakhnik, Herman, and Beer. (The original of the source is kept at the State Archive of the Russian Federation, Fond 7021, Inventory 89, Fiule 5, Lists 4-45; National Archive of the Republic of Belarus, Fond 845, Inventory 1, File 63, List 42-43; a copy is at the Yad Vashem archive, M-33/1138).

Author's notes:  Ivye - an urban settlement, the center of the region of the Grodno oblast, located 158 kilometers from Grodno, the junction of the lines to Minsk, Lida, and Novogrudok; it was first mentioned in the first half of the 15th century as a grand duchy, and in the second half of the 16th century as a town of the Oshmyansk provision of Vilna gubernia.  Together with Belarussians and Jews, there were Tatars.  In 1847 there were 804 Jews; in 1897 573 Jews (out of a total population of 3,653 people); in 1921-39 it was part of Poland, and since 1939 has been a part of the Belarus SSR.  Between the wars, there were 2.076 Jews.  Between June 29, 1941 and July 8, 1944, it was occupied by German forces, who killed 2,621 people in the town and region, including 2,500 Jews.

2003 Belarus SIG