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Jewish Partisans In Belarus 1941-1944

Introduction by Jenni Buch

· Background
· Database
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database

This database contains information on 8,451 persons who were members of various resistance groups in Belarus during World War II.

Background

Belarusian partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation.  Soviet Jewish prisoners of war who managed to escape, Polish Jews who had fled into the Soviet Union, and Jews who had escaped their imprisonment in ghettos would try to join the partisan detachments.  However, they faced considerable suspicion and virulent anti-Semitism.  Jews were considered as cowards and incapable of fighting.

Jews faced extreme dangers from the Polish partisan detachments that operated in Western Belarus.  The Polish home army (AK and NSZ) were militant nationalists and anti Semites — assaults beatings, robberies and murders of Jews were common.

At the same time, Nazi propaganda spread rumors that Jewish spies were being trained as secret agents in order to be sent to partisan detachments in special schools in the ghettos of Minsk, Bobruisk and Borisov.

Many Jews who had escaped from the ghettos were forced to return there to face certain death as a result of the above.  Leaders of the underground resistance organizations in the ghettos tried to establish contact with Soviet partisan detachments, as well as provide them with information, maps, weapons and medicines.  This contact and collaboration also helped escapees join the partisans.  Even if a Jew was trusted he had to have his own gun to be accepted.

Some of the partisan units that tried to help the escapees and accept them into their units were:

  • The Voroshilov brigade, where Jews comprised 12% of the total, led the partisan activity in the Slutsk zone.

  • The Mstitel (Avenger) detachment set up a leather manufacturing workshop where Jews from the family group could work and stay with the partisan detachment.

There were also Jewish partisan groups.  The family groups were all Jewish escapees, which included women, children and the elderly.  The most famous of these were:

  • Detachment No.5 (Kutuzov detachment) under Lev Gilchik’s command.  This consisted of escapees from the Novy Svierzhen and Niesvizh ghettos.

  • The Frunze Detachment.

  • The Budennyi detachment (Ponomarenko Brigade).

  • The Parkhomenko detachment (Chapaev Brigade).

  • The Shchors Brigade.  The detachment commanded by L. Atlas which comprised about 120 Jews from the Derechin ghetto.

  • Detachments nos. 106 and 406.

  • The detachment named after Kaganovitch, commanded by Sh. Zaindvais, that consisted of over 500 Jews from the ghettos of Baranovichi, Kobryn and Pinsk.

  • Former prisoners of the Slonim ghetto joined the Jewish group 51 of the Shchors detachment.

  • The Kotovski detachment was comprised of former prisoners of the Volkovysk ghetto.

(Note: the Kalinin and Ordzhonikidze Brigades were led by Tuvia and Zus Bielski, and known as the Bielski family groups.)

Database

This database includes 8,451 records of Belarus partisans.  The fields for this database are as follows:

  • Name (Surname + Given name)
  • Patronymic (father's given name)
  • Year of birth
  • Last residence (city)
  • Oblast (Administrative division, in adjectival form)
  • Brigade
  • Unit (Otriad)
  • Date of Death (usually unknown)

Acknowledgments

This list was painstakingly compiled by Dr. Inna Pavlovna Gerasimova, Director of the "Музей истории и культуры евреев Беларуси" — Museum of Jewish History and Culture — in Minsk, Belarus (jewish_museum@mail.ru).  Dr. Gerasimova is the author of the book Vstali my plechom k plechu: evrei v partizanskom dvizhenii Belorussii, 1941-1944 gg (Jews in the Partisan Divisions in Belarus 1941-44), published in Minsk in 2005.  This book is the most comprehensive work done on documenting the heroic resistance efforts of Belorussian Jews in the struggle against the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, and contains this list of over 8,000 names.

The project coordinator and donor is Jenni Buch (jennibuch@hotmail.com).  Zena Sofer (zsofer@optusnet.com.au) did the translating.

In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible.  Special thanks to Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.  Particular thanks to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.

Nolan Altman
Coordinator - Holocaust Database
May 2010


Searching the Database

This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database and the JewishGen Belarus Database.


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