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The Holocaust in Belarus: Lida

by Leonid Smilovitsky
Lida, originally on pp 185-6
translation donated by Peter Duffy

Lida:  A field and forest three kilometers from town were the locations of mass executions.  They used a 6-hectar space (the land of a former Soviet testing area) for a burial ground.  The old trenches, pits and ditches extending along the firing range were used widely as a burial ground.  During the first months of the occupation, the executed at the Lida prison and only at night to avoid having witnesses.  Subsequently, when repression expanded, they performed executions in the testing area.

In addition, they used a huge crater formed by an explosion at the gunpowder warehouse.  According to the Regional Aid Commission of the USSR of Lida and the Lida region, on August 17, 1944, it was not possible to specify the number of victims.  Its report stated that any victim falling into the "paws of the fascist invaders went through a long and thorny journey prior to ended up in the grave".  On May 2, 1942, after torture accompanied by afflictions of the extremities, they killed nine "known Jewish activists" (as stated in the document - L. S.).  Among them were attorneys Kerner and Tsiderovich.  The bodies of the dead were given to the families in the ghetto, but within one week, on May 8, 1942, a final operation took place in Lida.

Witness Fishel Israelovich Beloborod (born 1921) recounted that on the evening of May 7, the ghetto was surrounded by police and gendarmes, and the next morning prisoners were led to the courtyard behind the barracks.  The regional commissar and his assistant undertook a selection process.  The right was for those who were to die (women, the elderly, sick ,and children), and the left for those to remain alive (specialists and artisans).  Along the way to the forest people were beaten [or killed] with rifle butts and clubs, and the survivors executed.  The elderly who were unable to walk independently were killed in their homes and on the streets of the ghetto.  They murdered people in three huge pits.  They were ordered to undress and enter the pits, where they piled on top of the dead.  They were killed with machine guns and automatic weapons while the pits were filled up.

They made the children the first victims.  They grabbed them from their mothers and threw them into the pits, and then threw grenades in.  Other children were thrown up in the air and caught on bayonets.  Then came the turn of the adults.  They wounded Fishel Beloborod and left him for dead.  When he regained consciousness, he saw that the police had gone for another group.  The pit was enormous, and one young man piled up some bodies one on the other, and then got out and ran away.  Friends in Lida helped to carry out an operation and transported Fishel to the partisans.  According to raw information, some 5,670 Jews were killed on May 8, and another 155 of the Jewish intelligentsia on July 2, 1942; on July 8, 1942, 120 medical personnel of the psychiatric clinic of Lida were killed.

In Lida the Nazis executed 11,166 peaceful residents (8,000 Jews), hanged five people and sent off 49 to Germany.  In addition, they executed 830 prisoners of war.  Many locations of mass graves from the first years of the occupation  could no longer be identified from surface features, and only the names of 342 Lida Jews appeared on the list of names of the Commission with their birth date and sex.

(The original of the source is kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, Fond 7021, Inventory 86, File 42, Lists 1-26; National Archive of the Republic of Belarus, Fond 845, Inventory 1, File 7, List 2, File 8' Fond 861, Inventory 1, File 7, Lists 27-28; a copy is at the Yad Vashem archive, M-33/710) [This list has been transcribed & is available on the Lida District ShtetLink].

Author's notes: Lida - a city under the authority of the oblast, the center of the region of Grodno oblast, located on the Lideya River, 112 kilometers from Grodno, the junction of the rail lines and highway to Grodno, Vilnius, Molodechno, and Baranovichi.  It was first mentioned in the 14th century, at the time of the Oration of the Pospolita, and major city of the Lida region of Vilna province.  The Jewish Community was under the leadership of the Grodno Community.  In 1766 there were 1,167 Jews, in 1897 5,294 (out of a total population of 9,323 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 5,419 Jews.  Between June 27, 1941 and July 9, 1944, it was occupied by German forces who killed 25,149 people in Lida and the Lida region, including more than 8 thousand Jews.  In 1990, a memorial stone was erected to the victims of the Catastrophe.

2003 Belarus SIG