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The Holocaust in Belarus: Vasilishki

by Leonid Smilovitsky
Vasilishki, originally on p 164
translation donated by Peter Duffy

The ghetto was surrounded on May 9, 1942, and no one escaped.  On May 10 prisoners started to be taken out to the Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of town in groups of 60 people.  The graves were already prepared.  They ordered people to undress and stack their clothes in piles.  They were then pushed into ditches and shot.  This continued until May 11.  The total number of those shot over those two days was 2,159.  A total of 2,865 of all nationalities died in Vasilishki and surrounding region during the years of the occupation, and 598 were sent off to Germany.  A special group of the SS from Lida took an active role in the pogrom under the command of the headquarters officer Windish and his assistant Vasyukevich, together with the gendarmie and Gestapo of neighboring regions.

The Belarussian police, headed by commander Yezhevsky, and aided by Tubilevich, Vitold Schmigger and Nikolai Zhurun -- who distinguished themselves with particular cruelty - provided significant aid to the Nazis.  The Aid Commission of the [acronym for a State Committee] of the USSR of the Vasilishki Region put together a list of 616 families from the peaceful population who were victims.  The majority were Jews.  (The original of the source is kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, Fond 7021, Inventory 86, File 36, Lists 2-49; National Archive of the Republic of Belarus, Fond 845, Inventory 1, File 8, List 52; the State Archive of the Grodno Oblast, Fond 1029, Inventory 1, File 75, Lists 27-28; a copy is at the Yad Vashem archive, M-33/702).  [Note: the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a microfilm copy.  The list has been transcribed by the Lida District Researchers & is available on the Lida District ShtetLink].

Author's notes:  Vasilishki - a village in the Shuchin region or the Grodno oblast, located in the region of Lebed, 27 kilometers from Shuchin; it was first mentioned in the first half of the 15th century, from 1486= a town, in 1706 there was a residence of the Polish king Stanislav Leshinski.  It was part of Russian from 1795, a town in the Lida district of the Vilna guberniya; in 1847 - 719 Jews, in 1897 - 2,081 (out of a toatl population of 2,781 residents); in 1921-39 it was part of Poland, and the center of the province of Vilna; from 1939 it was part of the Belarus SSR.  In the pre-war period there were 1,223 Jews; it was occupied by the German forces from June 1941 until July 1944.  In 1967 an obelisk to "Soviet citizens" was erected to those killed by the Fascists.

2003 Belarus SIG