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[Pages 178-179]


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, bookkeeeprs, 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 escoreted 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 prohibted 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 doucment - 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 lfiled, 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 taht 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 Commissioin of the USSR of Ivye and the Ivye Region, a total of 2,621 people perished, including 1,424 owomen 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 provison 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 th 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.

[Page 179]

Ilya (Ilja, Illya)

The existing data on the annihilation of the community are inconsistent. The stories of local residents differ from the report of the Ilya Area Extraordinary Commission (Ch.G.K. SSSR) of March 19, 1945. It's not clear that the same pogroms are being described. Witnesses testified about events on March 16 and 17, 1942, while the Extraordinary Commission report describes the Aktion in May 1942. The number of victims in both cases, more than 700, is the same.

First version: In the evening of March 16, 1942 a Gestapo-led “punitive” squad arrived in town. The next day, the Germans and police collected the Jews of the area. A strong guard by gendarmes made escape impossible. All were driven into an unfinished vegetable warehouse and locked inside. The entrapped were led out two or three at a time, forced to a hole and shot. By evening the shed was empty. The perpetrators poured gasoline over the hole and set it on fire. People heard shouts, curses, and groans. Those who had jumped into the hole on their own shouted, not expecting shots. (This preceding sentence makes no sense. I have no idea what you mean.) After the mass murder, the Germans and police searched the houses in the ghetto and found 60 more people. The Jews were taken to the hole, where the fire still raged, and pushed into it. More than 700 Jews were murdered. The perpetrators then plundered the victims' property. (Ivan Tankovich, born 1905).

Joseph Zhabko, born 1893, stated that on the evening of March 16, Germans called the head of the ghetto, Abram Motke, and ordered him to produce the 10 most beautiful Jewish girls (other sources say 8 L.S.). Among them were Sara and Khaya Greenblat, Rys'a Kopelevich, Basya Rier, Sara Sosman and Khaya Bruida. They were raped and shot the next morning. After pouring gasoline over the hole previously mentioned, the squad threw hand grenades. Yevn Neuhovich Rier ,born 1914, recalled that the murderers smiled at the carnage. After the mass execution, the Germans captured 64 additional people. In Rier's opinion, 799 people were murdered in Ilya and nearby villages, of whom 51 were non-Jews.

Second Version: An execution squad from Vileika arrived in Ilya in May 1942. There were about 200 Gestapo men and 30 Belarusian policemen. On Soviet Street, they dug a hole about 50 meters by 30 meters. Jews were forced to undress, go to the edge of the hole and shot with machine guns and automatic pistols. When the hole was filled, the perpetrators poured gasoline over it and threw in a 100 kilogram incendiary bomb. Bodies burned for three days. Similar events occurred in Viazyn' and Ol'kovitsy. In all, 745 people were executed and burned, including 150 children under 10 years old. Participants in the Aktion were Offivers Korf, Max, Captain Strasbourg, Ueberwachmeister Fritsel, Chief of the gendarmes in Ilya, Junior Officer Bernard Virving, the chief of police Nikolai Skabei, policemen Nikolai Davidovich and Nikolai Sokolovsky (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 89, d. 6, ll. 5-55; NARB f. 861, op. 1, d. 10, ll. 26, 30, 34; f. 4, op 29, d. 112, ll. 457-458; copies at Yad Vashem Archives, M-33/1139).

Author's note: Ilya village in Vileika district (rayon) (from 1959), Minsk region (oblast), located on the Iliya River, 37 km from Vileika and 75 km from Minsk, mentioned in the 15th century, part of the Russian Empire from 1793, town in Vileka district (uezd), Vilna guberniya, in 1847, 894 Jews lived here, in 1897, 829 (out of 1431 residents); 1921-1939 part of Poland, in 1939 part of the BSSR, before WWII, 586 Jewish residents; occupied by the German armies from June 3, 1941 to June 3, 1944, who murdered 1495 people in Ilya and Ilya district (rayon). A grave marker mentions the loss of Soviet soldiers and partisans and a mass grave of victims of fascism, but no mention is made of Jews.

[Page 181]

Kletsk (Polish: Kleck)

Translated by Anonymous, Dr. Smilovitsky & Rochelle Kaplan

As soon as they arrived, the German armies started to persecute Jews. On June 28, 1941, Nazis shot Sofia Taits and Khana Geller. On August 20, 1941, the Germans murdered thirty-five more people, among them Joseph Zhukhovitski, Grigory Koval, G.A.Tarabura and M. Rozenfeld. The first mass pogrom occurred at the end of September 1941. Nazis shot many Jews in a trench near the Christian Cemetery, while the remaining Jews were herded into a heavily guarded ghetto, fenced with barbed wire. A second pogrom in June, 1942 meant that the ghetto was set on fire. Escapees were shot with automatic pistols and machine guns. There are two mass graves for the victims in Kletsk. The first is a trench near a cemetery, the second at the edge of town, not far from Starina (Old) Forest.. Joseph Meerovich and Liza Fish managed to escape, and added their testimonies to those of Simeon Palchinski, Konstantin Zhukovski and Michael Sevastei.

On April 12, 1945 the Kletsk Area Extraordinary Commission (Ch.G.K. SSSR) opened the 1941-1942 mass burial sites.. Six mass graves were discovered in the area between the military depot and the cemetery. The first was 42 meters by 4 meters and contained 1020 bodies., The second, 32 meters by 4 meters, contained 1300 bodies., The third, 32 meters by 3 meters, contained the remains of 720 people. The fourth, 20 meters by 4 meters, had 470 bodies. The fifth, 15 meters by 2 meters, contained 600 bodies. The sixth hole, separated from the others, contained the bodies of 48 children, aged two months to fifteen years, buried alive. Vladimir Zadal and Kondrat (illegible surname - L.S.) testified to this event. In addition, a mass burial site containing 1000 people was exhumed,, two kilometers from Kletsk in Starina Forest.

During the years of occupation, Nazis murdered 5158 people in the Kletsk area, including 1399 women and 1830 children, among them eight who were hung and 1051 burned. Twelve hundred seventy-three Soviet prisoners of war were executed or died of famine and illnesses, and 112 persons died due to bombardment and shelling. Nine hundred three people were sent to Germany as forced laborers. Although the report did not try to identify the ethnicity of the victims, the Commission concluded that the majority of the victims were Jews. Active participants in the pogroms included the chief of the Kletsk gendarmerie, Kokh, his assistant Nyman, gendarmes Paikhel', Singer and Knol', the burgomaster (mayor) of Kletsk, Konstantin Novik, the assistant commandant of Kletsk's economic division, Ivan Domenik, and the commandant of police, Paul Grushkevich. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 81, d. 102, ll. 57-64; NARB f. 845, op. 1, d. 6, l. 39; d. 57, l. 28; Zhonal'ny gosudarstvenny arkhiv v Baranovichakh (Zonal State Archive in Baranovichi) f. 616, op. 1, d. 70; copies at Yad Vashem Archives, M-33/1159).

Author's note: Kletsk town, center of Kletsk district (rayon), Minsk region (oblast), located on the Lan' River, 140 km. from Minsk; founded in the 11th century by Yaroslav Mudry, mentioned in annals in 1127 as center of the principality of Kletsk; during the Rzecz Pospolita, part of Nowogrudok wojedwodztwo; there was mention of a Jewish Community subordinate to the Lithuanian Vaad in 1552; in the 19th century a town, (volost') center in Slutsk district (uezd); 1921-1939 part of Poland, then in the BSSR, before WWII 4190 Jews lived here; occupied by German troops from June 26, 1941 to July 4, 1944; during this time 7600 people from Kletsk and the surrounding area were killed, including 7000 Jews; in 1996 a Holocaust monument was erected.

[Page 182]

Kozlovshchina (Polish: Koslowstchine)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

On November 24, 1941 the Germans collected 40 to 50 peasants and ordered them to bring shovels and picks. They sent them to a place 3 km from Kozlovshchina and ordered them to dig four holes 20 m long, 8 m wide and 2 m deep, and also two holes 10 m long. The Germans were in a great hurry, and never allowed the workers a break. When the work was done, they were ordered to put down their tools and go home. On the road to Kozlovshchina, the peasants encountered four trucks in which their neighbors, the Jews, sat. The Germans expelled the Jews from their homes, formed them into a column, and loaded them in trucks. A total of 13 motor vehicles was used. In the evening, everyone who had been at work in the morning was called to the office of the volost (district) administrator, and ordered to the same place where they had dug the holes. All around lay murdered bodies, the ground was soaked with blood, bits of human brain and skulls hung on trees and bushes. Peasants were forced to become grave-diggers and after that were sent home. The Germans continued to search for an additional day, capturing 18 more Jews. These were taken to the local cemetery and forced to dig a grave. Children were taken from their parents' hands and shot in sight of their parents, then the parents were beaten and shot as well. On November 24 and 25, about 300 Jews were murdered in Kozlovshchina. In the victims' houses, everything was turned upside down, ceilings blown up, furnaces destroyed, the floors broken open in search for valuables. During the years of the occupation, 1582 residents of the Kozlovshchina area were murdered and 1037 taken for forced labor in Germany (Original sources: GARF f. 7021, op. 81, d. 102, ll. 69-71; NARB, f. 845, op. 1, d. 6, l. 41; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/1159).

Author's note: Kozlovshchina town in the Dyatlovo district (rayon) Grodno region (oblast), known since the 18th century as a village in Slonim district (uezd); in 1897, 325 residents in all; part of Poland 1921-1939; since 1939 in the BSSR; occupied by German armies from June 1941 to July 13, 1944, in 1967 an obelisk in memory of Soviet citizens murdered by fascists was established.

[Page 183]

Kokhanovo (Kokhanava, Kochanov)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

In September 1941, the Germans forced the Jews into a ghetto which took up half of Orsha Street. The Nazis also moved Jews from Galoshev village in Tolochin district (rayon) into this ghetto. Some prisoners resisted, so the Germans shot 15 young Jews. A prisoner named Gil' escaped from the ghetto several times, but had to return each time because local residents did not help him. Nazis liquidated the ghetto in January 1942 when the Germans shot 300 residents at the Jewish cemetery near Minsk Street. The Nazis used hand grenades and mines to blow up the frozen ground just before the executions. Other sources indicate 350 people executed in Kokhanovo. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 84, d. 14, l. 12)

Author's note: town in Tolochin district (rayon) (since 1956), Vitebsk region (oblast), 24 km. from Tolochin, a stop on the Minsk-Orsha Railway, early in the 20th century, part of Orsha district (uezd), Mogilev guberinya; in 1897, 3014 Jews lived here among 4724 residents, in 1926, 480 Jews; from 1924-1926 and from 1946-1956, Kokhanovo was district (rayon) center; occupied by the German armies from June 1941 to 28 July 1944.

[Page 183]

Kurenets (Kuranets, Polish: Kurzeniec)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

Organized pogroms began in autumn of 1941. On October 14, a group of 54 Jews was accused of sympathizing with Soviet authority. The Jews included twenty children aged 4 to 12. According to the testimony of Simeon Raihkely (born 1892), these people “were poor and received Soviet assistance”. Local Jewish residents Roman Savievich, Ivan Sorokvosh, Grigori Bolyak, Vlad'ka and others aided the police in shooting the prisoners on Kasutski Street. Witness Josef Bekach (born 1917) added that an SS squad and policemen arrived to select qualified experts – Jews along with their families – from those who had been “close to the Communists”.

In February 1942, a command under prison chief Yasinski arrived in Kurenets. Together with his assistant Sharangovich and others (not named in the document – L. S.), they shot 33 Jews. The same month, Kazimir Sokolovski, Peter Drozdovski, Peter Glitoft, Nikolai Bliznyak, and Nikolai Yaroshevsky returned from Vileikia, under the SD chief of Vileika, Egof. They demanded that Jews hand over their valuables. When they received nothing, the squad executed 120 Jews, including children from 1 to 10 years old. At the end of March 1942, Egof unexpectedly reappeared in Kurenets, and “for no reason” shot six more Jews who hadn't had time to hide. Bas'ya Zal'tsman (born 1889) added that at the end of February or the beginning of March 1942, a group of Germans and Belarusian policemen shot 17 Jews, among whom were five children. The Germans and police burned eleven houses and outbuildings and stole 408 head of cattle. Vileika SD chief Oberlieutenant Grave led the final Aktion at 3 AM on September 9, 1942, accompanied by a large annihilation squad (up to 400 men). The perpetrators rounded up Jews, more than half elderly men and children, on the pretext of sending them to work. Covered trucks transported them to Myadel Street where they were forced into a shed and set on fire. Anyone trying to run away was shot with automatic weapons. Active participants included SD chief Grave, chief of regional gendarmerie Schiller, chief of military police Oberlieutenant Waldmann and various policemen. Members of the Kurenets fire department, led by Vladimir Biryuki, set fire to the shed. Firemen prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings. Nazis and their sympathizers murdered 1052 people. During the occupation, 1201 people were killed in Kurenets, including civilians (107 women and 59 children) of all ethnic groups and Soviet prisoners of war. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 89, d. 8, ll 3-76; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/1141).

Author's note: Kurenets, town in Vileika district (rayon), Minsk region (oblast), located on the Pela River, 7 km. from Vileika; first mentioned in 1519 as a place in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; in 1665, a city; early in the 20 th century, volost center in Vilna Guberniya; in 1847, 844 Jews lived here; in 1897, of 1774 residents, 1613 were Jews; part of Poland 1921-1939; from 1939 part of BSSR, before WWII, 1131 Jews lived here; occupied by German armies from June 25, 1941 to July 2, 1944; there is a grave of “victims of fascism”, a mass grave of Soviet soldiers and partisans, and a monument to members of the patriotic underground. Jews as victims of Nazi genocide are not mentioned.

[Pages 185-186]


Translation donated by Peter Duffy

Lida: A fiedl 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 Commissiong 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 accompained 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 appared on the lsit 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.

[Page 186]


Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

The first execution of Jews occurred at the end of June 1941. The remaining Jews moved into a ghetto – a small, heavily guarded block fenced with barbed wire. The Lyakhovichi Area Extraordinary Commission determined that the “fascists carried out bloody massacres of civilians, but the most numerous victims appeared to be Jews” (April 12, 1945 report). In the village Shchastnovichi, administered from Perekhrestov Village Soviet, the Germans arrested six people, sent them to Lyakhovichi, tortured and shot them. They were buried in the Jewish cemetery.

On August 11, 1941, an annihilation squad from Gantsevichi arrived in Medvedichi village. The squad ordered the Jews to assemble under the pretext of document checks, and divided the Jews into two groups. One group contained elderly men, women and children; youth comprised the other group. The squad shot the first group in Kurshinovichi, by the boundary with Brody [Fords].. “They were killed carefully and anyone remaining alive finished off with revolvers”, recalled local residents Ivan Kantselyarchik and Stepan Rakashevich. Squad members ordered victims to lie down on the ground to be killed, then buried them in three mass graves. The squad took thirty young Jewish men to the Siniava manor in Tal'minovichi Village Soviet, and killed them. Witnesses stated that policemen did not participate in this execution. “Each Hitlerite was ordered to kill not less than one Jew”. In 1942, sixty-five Jews were shot behind the Raitanovo railway station.

“German animals” (term used by witnesses – L.S.) killed the last Jews in Lyakhovichi in the spring of 1943. They were ordered into a column, taken one kilometer to the west of Lyakhovichi, and shot.

Based on incomplete data, Lyakhovichi and the surrounding area lost 4725 Jews. The Germans sent 453 men and 109 women to forced labor in Germany. Participants in the Aktionen were: gendarmerie chiefs of the Lyakhovichi area, Ville and Mayer, gendarmerie officers Shteige, Shmara, Ant, Zherebkovichi gendarmerie chief Paul Yansvas, railway station chief “Kovali” (Forged), Bival't, gendarmes Braksh and Mel'de, German district chief George, gendarmerie cook Kubka, director of the firm “Stern” (Star), Todt member Brishev and heads, Vinpidt, Valter, Erek, Grossmann, and Gendel'. The organization TODT, under Fritz Todt, combined private and government forces for infrastructure maintenance and improvement. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 81, d. 102, ll. 83-89; NARB, f. 845, op. 1, d. 57, l 28; f. 861, op. 1, d. 1, l. 102a; Zonal State Archive in Baranovichi, f. 616, op. 1, d. 70, 73; copies at Yad Vashem Archives, M-33/1159).

Author's notes: Lyakhovichi – town, district (rayon) center in Brest region (oblast), located on the Bedz'ma River, 225 kilometers from Brest. First mentioned in the 15th century, during the Rzecz Pospolita, part of Nowogrudok wojewodztwo. Part of Russia after 1795 – part of Slutsk district (uezd), Minsk guberniya; the Lyakhovichi Jewish Community was part of Pinsk Kahal from 1623; in 1766, 729 Jews lived here, in 1847, 1071 Jews, in 1897, 3846 Jews (out of 5016 residents); part of Poland 1921-1939, then BSSR. Before WWII, 1656 Jews lived here. Occupied by German armies from June 26, 1941 to July 6, 1944; in this period, over 5000 people were murdered in the town and surrounding area; in 1992, village erected a monument to Holocaust victims.

[Page 187]

Molchad' (Polish: Molczady)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

In July 1941, the military commandant's office forced the Jews of nearby villages to move into the ghetto. After September 1941, the order came that houses in which Jews and Belorussians lived together must be labeled with black crosses. Houses in which only Jews lived had to have a 6-pointed star, and neighboring Belorussian households were forced to move. In May 1942, the Germans ordered Jews to appear with shovels in order to dig a trench, ostensibly for the foundation of a new fuel storage depot. During the night of July 15, 1942, an annihilation squad arrived in Molchad' in forty motor vehicles, and began assembling all the Jews. The squad formed groups of 100-120 Jews, took them to the Popov Mountains, where the dug trenches lay. The doomed were forced to undress and then shot. The four-year-old daughter of Zosia Shmilovich lagged behind. Soldiers shot the child on the road by Stefan Geilash's house. Soldiers then searched for Jews who had tried to hide. They found and shot, in an attic, Josef Sinyavski with his wife and two children, aged four and seven. Khaim Mendelevich was ill, so he was killed in bed. On July 15, 1942, soldiers shot the family of medical assistant Bochko. His two daughters, who had avoided the mass execution, were caught two days later, raped and murdered.

After that the Germans “started to be cunning”. They declared the July Aktion the last one; henceforth, the Jews must live in an organized ghetto in Molchad'. The invaders promised that those who came would not be executed, would be kept safe and given jobs. Twenty days later, the Germans organized the removal of two hundred Jews from the ghetto to the Popov Mountains. Then the Nazis shot the Jews. The occupiers also executed fifty Belorussians and five prisoners of war, and sent fifty local residents to forced labor in Germany. The assistant Gebietskommissar of Baranovichi city and district and head of SS forces Kramff, SS lieutenant Mondzhek and others led the Acktionen. Members of the annihilation squad were from Molchad' and other districts (rayons) of Baranovichi area (oblast). (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 81, d. 102, ll. 51.53; NARB, f. 845, op. 1, d. 6, l. 31; Zonal State Archive at Baranovichi, f. 616, op. 1, d. 70, 73; copies at Yad Vashem Archives, M-33/1159)

Survivors from Molchad feel that there are inaccuracies in the above material


Was there a military office in Molchad?

B: Did not know.
K: there was a Judenrat, no official military office.
S. There was not a military office in Molchad
L. No military office but there was a Judenrat. Brother-in-law Label Gilorivitch was the head of it. He went to Baranavichi with leather goods and possibly gold and jewelry to bribe the Gestapo to save the Jews. He was put in prison and killed there.

Was there a ghetto in Molchad where the Jews were confined to?

B: No
K: No
S. No
L. No

Were there signs on the Jewish houses – black crosses and six pointed stars?

B: Did not remember.
K: There were no symbols on the houses, but the Jews had to wear Red Magan David stars on the front and back of their clothes.
S. There were no symbols on the houses.
L. No stars or symbols on the houses. There was not even a star on the outside of the 3 synagogues. In the beginning the Jews did wear an arm band and later they had a yellow sign on the front and back of their clothes.

Were there Germans in Molchad or were the killing of the Jews done by Ukranians and Lithuanians with the help of the gentile neighbors? The translation refers to“punishers” coming to Molchad to assist with the mass killing. They both remembered the date.

B: On July 15, 1942 both the Germans and many others (locals?) joined in. He ran to the woods and on his own eventually joined up with the others who escaped (including Koren). He specifically remembers that the Mefaked Mishtara,which means a police officer, if not the chief of police, was his next door neighbor and that this person's brother came and killed members of his (B's) family. Also said there were Byelorussians there as well.
K: On Rosh Chodesh Av (the New Moon of the Hebrew month of Av, i.e., the 1st of Av) is when the aktion took place. [Rosh Chodesh Av in 5702 occurred on 15 July, 1942; it was a Wednesday.] There were both Germans and Russians participating in the killings. K escaped with a group of others that day.
S. The murderers were the local people and Byelorussians and Ukranians
L. Very few Germans. The murderers were a group called Einsatzgrupen composed of Lithuanians, Ukranians, Latvians and a few Germans. They moved from town to town performing mass murders.

Did you know someone in Molchad by the name of Steven Geylash or a family by the name of Bochko?

B: Never heard of either name.
K: Never heard of either name.
S. Never heard of either name
L. Never heard of either name

The article said the mass grave is at a place of the Popov Mountains. I know for a fact the mass grave is in the forest and there are no mountains there. Do you know anything about the Popov Mountains?

B: and K: Both never heard of this place. Each listed several names of nearby towns and local mountains, but the name Popov did not ring a bell with them.
S. Never heard of Popov Mountains
L. Never heard of Popov Mountains

MS is a Molchad survivor and after he translated the Molchad article, he told me that several statements were not correct. Because he was taken to Baranovichi to work in the German military camp early on, he suggested I contact a survivor in Israel who was in Molchad July, 1942 to confirm his questions. I had someone in Israel call two Molchad survivors and the answers to the questions asked are noted as B. and K. I called two survivors in the States and their answers are noted as S. and L.

[Page 188]

Myadel' (Myadzel', Polish: Miadziol)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

During the occupation, German Gendarmie officers Sacher and Keil led punitive squads made up of S.S. and local police. They pursued a policy of terror against the civilian population. Myadel' resident N. Ya. Katz related that early in September 1941 six Jews were detained, taken to the remains of the burned house of Josef Kotser, and forced to move the still smoldering “candle ends” to another location. Then Nazis set guard dogs on the Jews who were severely and repeatedly bitten “before they lost consciousness”. The Germans subsequently compelled a double column of forty-five Jews to march from Myadel' to the boundary “Mkhi” (Mosses), ordered them to dig a common grave, and shot them.

In mid- September 1942, Nazis under the command of the chief of Gendarmerie Krauze conducted mass arrests of Jews in the area, detained about one hundred people, drove sixty-nine of them into a shed and locked it. They forced the remaining people to dig a hole at the edge of the “Bor” (Pine Forest). The Nazis tied up those in the shed, led them to the hole, and shot them.

The Myadel' Area Extraordinary Commission report of April 26, 1945, noted that in addition to the gendarmes named, chiefs of police Boginsky and Rusakovich were personally responsible for the genocide of civilians. (Note: You use the terms gendarmes, gendarmie and gendarmerie. Are these interchangeable? If they mean the same thing, I believe it would be clearer to use the same term throughout. Partisans captured and shot them. Officer Sacher was arrested and hung. In the Myadel' area, 345 people were murdered, among them 126 women and 74 children. Seventy-four residents, among them 38 women and 2 children, were burned to death. The document did not specify the ethnic distribution of the victims.

Author's note: Myadel' – town settlement, Myadel' district (rayon) center, Minsk region (oblast), located between Lake Myastra and Lake Batorino, 143 km. from Minsk; founded in the 10th century, part of Vileika district (uezd), Vilna gubernia; part of Poland 1921 – 1939; 1939 BSSR. Before WWII, 170 Jews lived here; occupied by German Army from July 2, 1941 to July 4, 1944, during which 420 people were murdered in the town and surrounding district, among them one hundred Jews, in September 1942.

[Page 189]

Nesvizh (Nyasvizh, Polish: Nieswierz)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

On July 27, 1941, the local police and gendarmerie set fire to the ghetto and shot 700 Jews, among them members of the town's educated class such as doctors and engineers. Other residents were taken 5 km. from Nesvizh to Al'ba. Concurrently, the Germans murdered and buried in the town park 3000 Soviet prisoners of war, Commandant Shpekh, chief of police Vladimir Senko and his assistant Kandybovich, and gendarmerie translator Josef Yanushkevich supervised the murders. German gendarmes participating in the shooting were Shauz, Koch, Koenig, As, Fl'aiter, Grepke, Badem, Egers, Keller, Fuchs and others. Policemen Anton Tychilo, Ivan and Viktor Kozlovichi, Ivan Goremyko, Vinitskii and Dmitri Saromko assisted .Lavrenti Konesh (Konash, Konosh – not legible in document – L. S.) was particularly cruel.

The Germans installed a town manager, Ivan Kalosha, to implement their “new order”. The Nesvizh regional manager was Avdei, who arrived from elsewhere with the Germans. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 81, d. 102, ll. 97-98; NARB f. 845, op. 1, d. 6, l. 55; Zonal State Archive at Baranovichi, f. 616, op. 1, d. 70, l. 22; copies at Yad Vashem M-33/1559). Nyasvizh, Polish: Nieswierz

Author's note: Nesvizh – town, district (rayon) center in Minsk region (oblast), located by the Usha River, 112 km. from Minsk; first mentioned in documents in 1223; center of a principality to the 15th Century; during the Rzecz Pospolita part of Vitebsk wojewodztwo, from the 16th Century, a residence of the Princes Radziwil, Jews were first mentioned in 1581; the Jewish community was considered the most important in Lithuania, and was under Brest Kahal, in 1765 – 1097 Jews, in 1797, Nesvizh was district (uezd) center in Minsk gubernia, and there were 16 Jewish and 9 Christian merchants, 685 Christians and 912 Jews, in 1847 – 3449 Jews, in 1897 – 4687 Jews (out of 8459 residents); 1921-1939 part of Poland, 1939 BSSR, before WWII, 3346 Jews lived here, occupied by German armies from June 28, 1941 to July 2, 1944, during which time they murdered 10,000 people in Nesvizh and the surrounding area.

[Page 190]


Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

After occupying the town, the Germans ordered the residents to register. Jews had to wear black strips of cloth with a Star of David, do public works, and clear war damage. Belarusians and Russians had a 7 P.M. curfew; Jews 6 P.M. Food rationing was handled separately for Jews. In September 1941, the Germans created a ghetto from Narodno (People's or National) Street up to the Polish cemetery, the entire length of Engels Street, including the grounds of Slavinsky's factory “Krasn'i Borets” (Red Fighter). It was small, consisting of twenty houses on Engels Street, housing two thousand people. Crude plank beds constructed from a single board were put up everywhere. Jews lived in attics, sheds, and former business sites. Barbed wire and guards restricted entry to the ghetto. Kazhdan was appointed chairman of the Judenrat; before the war he worked for the enterprises “Soyuzzagotkozh” and “Soyuzpushnina”. The Germans imposed a fine of 250,000 rubles on the Jews, collected 50,000 rubles of it in cash and the rest in valuables, including 2000 silver and gold objects. To keep order, the Germans claimed that the Jews would soon be sent to Palestine. The population density and lack of sanitation led to a typhus epidemic.

One day shortly after November 20, 1941, prisoners of war were ordered to dig a deep, wide trench in the Jewish cemetery, bordering the ghetto. Early in the morning of November 26 the gendarmerie and police surrounded the ghetto. One group of two thousand Jews was sent to the western Orsha station and deported in box cars to a concentration camp and killed there. The remaining Jews were shot in a ravine between the Jewish and Polish cemeteries (now the site of a tool factory). Nazis drove the prisoners from their houses and forced to a cemetery gate. Dogs searched the houses for people in hiding. The Germans ordered the victims, adults and children, to undress, pile up their things, and jump into the trenches. Others victims were herded to the edge and shot in the back of the head. On Pushkin Street, policemen and Germans forced Belarusians and Russians to watch the Aktion. The involuntary spectators expected to be the next victims. Residents forced to dig the trenches thought they too were to be executed. About thirty Jewish families – craftsmen, tailors, shoemakers, watchmakers, and others – were temporarily kept alive. On October 1, 1943, a three meter tall fence was added to a plot by the cemetery .The area, about 300 meters square, had been used for pickling. Corpses were loaded into twenty-four tubs, each with a volume of 3.3 cubic meters, then covered with a combustible fluid and burned. The Orsha Extraordinary Commission Report of September 20, 1944, found two trenches in the Jewish cemetery, 23 meters long, 6 meters wide and 3 meters deep and the twenty-four tubs. Each hole was surrounded by an ash layer 4-5 m in diameter. (Note: What hole? Do you refer to the trenches? If yes, say trenches.) Germans executed 6,000 people in the cemetery. (Original sources at NARB, f. 845, op. 1, d. 7, l. 49; f. 4, op. 29, d. 112, ll. 40-407)

Author's note: Orsha – town, district (rayon center) in Vitebsk region (oblast), located at the confluence of the Dnieper and Orshitsa Rivers, 93 km. from Vitebsk, crossroads of railways and roads to Minsk, Mogilev, Smolensk, Vitebsk and Lepel'; first mentioned in 1067; from 1320 part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, destroyed and rebuilt as a result of numerous wars; from 1793 part of Russia – town in Minsk Gubernia; Jews known to have lived here from the 16 Century, and were subordinate to Brest Kahal, in 1765 - 368 Jews lived here; in 1847, 1662, in 1897 – 7383 of 13061 residents were Jewish; in 1910 – 9842 Jews, in 1926 – 6780 Jews, in 1938 – 7992 Jews; 1924-1930 – center of Orsha district (okrug); occupied by German armies from July 16, 1941 to June 27, 1944. In this period, Germans killed 19,000 people in a death camp and 37,400 more in the town and surrounding area.

[Page 191]

Peski (Piaski)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

There are three differing testimonies on the destruction of the Jews. Athanasius Puzevich, born 1891, stated that the ghetto was organized in 1942 and existed for four months. In the autumn of 1942, Nazis transferred one thousand prisoners to Volkovysk concentration camp. Although the Nazis collected 300 carts from neighboring villages, many prisoners were forced to walk. Those Jews unable to move on their own were left behind. The Nazis promised that the weak, sick, and old would be moved separately. Actually, they were taken to a house near the Jewish cemetery and burned. Subsequently, one hundred Jewish owned houses and out buildings were destroyed.

Ivan Yakusik, born 1895, testified that Nazis removed Jews from Volkovysk early in November 1942. These included former residents of the village Peski (meaning Sand), 1600 Jews and about 300 others brought from the Mosty ghetto (most means bridges) and nearby villages. Rachmiel Galperin, the chief of the Peski Judenrat, was Yakusik's informant.At noon, a house in the ghetto was set afire, guarded by SD, Gestapo and gendarmes. Patients and old men were dragged to the fire and thrown in. At the end of November 1942, policeman Anton Yakubovski told Yakusik that twenty Jews from Peski and three from Mosty were burned. Policemen carried a sick Jewish woman out on a bed. The fire was by then so strong they could not approach it. They put the bed near a wall about to collapse. The infirm lady could not move and was burned alive. Adam Bakunovich tackled another Jew and dragged him inside the burning building. People tried to escape through the windows and doors, but guards shot them with rifles and machine guns.

Edward Zhurko, born 1904, worked as the Peski village accountant. On November 3 or 4, 1942, on his way to work, Zhurko noticed about 300 carts in which approximately 2000 Jews sat, headed for Volkovysk. Among them were his acquaintances Zhurko Zeidel' Narodovskii and Shmuel Vorovskii, who said good-bye to him. Narodovskii asked to bring a coat from the ghetto, but was not allowed to retrieve it. Local residents, policemen, who participated in the pogrom were Michael and Cheslav Zabolotsky, Ben'kovskii, Anton Frants, Kazimir Artishevich, Ivan Zayats, Anton Yakubovsky, Putilovskii, Vatslav Antonovich, Tishevskii and Karchevskii. All fled with the Germans in 1944. The soltus (the head – L. S.) of Peski, Vikentii Semashko and the soltus of Strubintsa village, Adam Bakunovich, were arrested by the NKVD after the area was liberated from the Nazis. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 86, d. 43, ll. 5-15; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/711).

Author's note: Peski – village in Most' district (rayon), Grodno region (oblast)

[Page 191]

Slavnoe (Polish: Slawnja)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

On July 9, 1941, the Nazis set up the ghetto on Park St. (the modern name – L. S.). One hundred Jews were placed in several houses which previously held only three families. The police guarded the ghetto and those inside were required to wear armbands with a yellow star. Leaving the ghetto after dark was only permitted to adults with certain jobs. Local residents serving as security guards participated in robberies of Jewish property. Pashkovsky got the most bounty. Shlomo Shpunt was harnessed to a cart and forced to pull it, as a horse might. The ghetto was liquidated on March 15, 1942. Nazis shot the residents near Gliniki village; many were buried alive. The sisters Ravich hid in Yablon'ka village, but someone denounced them and they were killed. Stasevich hid Maria Sirotkina's two children to the end. A group of girls working at substations, among them Pogorelaya and Anna Solov'eva, fled and survived. They had been warned of the impending executions by neighbors. (Gennady Vinnitsa, Slovo Pamyati, (Words of Memory), Vitebsk 1997, p. 24).

Author's note: Slavnoe (means nice) – village in Tolochin district (rayon), Vitebsk area (oblast).

[Page 192]


Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

A punitive squad of up to seventy men arrived on August 2, 1942. Soldiers in groups of two or three scoured the city, searching for Jews. The soldiers, under the pretext of sending three hundred Jews to work in Gorodok (meaning small town), collected them in the building formerly housing the printing house “Udarnik”. The men were separated and forced to lie on the ground face down in one side of the area, and the women and children on the opposite side. Anyone who turned his or her head was beaten with boots, rifle butts and sticks. The squad gave thirty men shovels, put these Jews in vehicles and drove away. Sonya Bokhr asked her girlfriend Tatyana Sidorov to take away her six-year-old son, Volodia. For this affront, one soldier tried to push Tatyana into the general column. Only protests by the neighbors that she wasn't Jewish saved her. By 5 P.M., the round-up ended, and over seven hundred Jews were lined into a column four people wide, and led by guards armed with submachine guns to a ravine three kilometers from Surazh. Three trenches had been dug. Anna Ostashenko from Bolshoe Lyubshino testified, “The Germans drove long columns of women, old men, and children to the ravine”. Adults were assembled into groups of twenty to twenty-five people. The Nazis shot the women and the men were forced to watch. Those who turned away were beaten. The children were doused with a combustible fluid and then thrown into the fires in which clothes and footwear were burning. The Aktion ended about 11 P.M. There were pools of blood on the ground; bits of brain, bones, part of a skull with its scalp attached hung on the grass and tree branches. Elderly Belorussian men were forced to cover the trenches.

After this Aktion, the military unit left Surazh. The brown-shirted soldiers had on their forage caps and ties skull-and-crossbones emblems. After the mass murders, policemen plundered the Jewish houses, taking anything that attracted them. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 84, d. 13, ll. 1-8; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/448).

Author's note: Surazh – town in Vitebsk district (rayon), located on the West Dvina River, 43 km from Vitebsk; first mentioned in the 11th-13th Centuries; from 1886 – unimportant town in Vitebsk district (uezd); in 1847 – 1016 Jews; in 1897 – 1246 Jews (among 2731 residents); in 1926 – 669 Jews; in 1939 – 461 Jews (out of 3001 residents); occupied by German armies from July 12, 1941 to October 28, 1943. The Germans murdered 9181 people in Surazh and the surrounding area during this period; in 1998, people erected a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

[Page 192]

Tolochin (Talachin, Tolotschin)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

The ghetto was organized on Nikolai Street early in the fall 1941. More than two thousand people were crowded into fifteen houses, so that they had to use sheds, barns and other outbuildings. Police guarded the ghetto, which was was not fenced. Jews were forced to sew two yellow triangles making a Magen David on their clothes. Men were assigned to road construction and latrine cleaning. Three persons were hanged in the Tolochin area for absence from work. A teenager who stole from a canned food storage area was hung on the gate of the starch factory where he was employed. Some people fled and some hid. A friendly policeman provided counterfeit documents to Maria Shapiro so she could go to Orsha. From there she was sent to Germany as an “Eastern Worker” (forced labor). Sympathetic people hid Jewish Ms. Kopylov in Muravnitse village for a long time, but imprudence gave her away.

The ghetto was liquidated on March 13, 1942. In a field near Raitsy village, people dug a hole. One day about two thousand Jews were shot. They were led forward in groups of about thirty. While being led to the hole, some people escaped, but the majority were murdered. The only ones left were Mulia and Lev Klugmans, hidden in an attic with their newborn brother. When the policemen conducted a final search, the baby cried and gave away the hiding place. Dr. Fishkin, who knew about the coming Aktion, poisoned his wife, two children and himself. The next day led to the mass grave were a girl, a woman, and an old man found after the liquidation of the ghetto. Despite the cold and the snowstorm, they were forced to undress before being shot in the back of the head. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 84, d. 14, ll. 1-4; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/451)

Author's note: Tolochin – town, district (rayon) center in Vitebsk region (oblast), located on the Drut' River, 124 km. from Vitebsk, station on the Minsk-Moscow railroad; first mentioned in documents in 1433; during the Rzecz Pospolita – place in Orsha powiat, Vitebsk wojewodztwo; later in Orsha district (uezd), Mogilev guberniya; information on transient Jews from 1717; in 1766 – 648 Jews lived here, 1847 – 1327 Jews, in 1897 – 1955 Jews (among 2614 residents), in 1926 – 1910 Jews, in 1939 – 979 Jews; occupied by German armies from July 8, 1941 to June 26, 1944. Nazis murdered 9521 people in the town and surrounding district.

[Page 194]

Cherikov (Cherikau)

Translated by Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky

Edited by Rochelle Kaplan

Persecution and individual executions in the summer and autumn of 1941 preceded the massacre of civilians. Nazis raped young women and girls living in the area. To clear mine fields, soldiers forced people into lines and marched them ahead at gunpoint. Exploding mines killed dozens. In October 1941, the Nazis announced the “resettlement of Jews elsewhere” and, under escort, drove five hundred Jews to the government building. At a mill near the border with Most', the column stopped and the escort fired automatic weapons upon the people. Wounded men were finished off with additional shots, the half-dead thrown into a trench and buried with the dead.

In winter 1941, the Germans compelled more than four hundred people to construct a bridge across the Sozh River. To punish “saboteurs” who evaded work, a group of civilians was ordered to undress and lie in the snow. All forced laborers were flogged. In 1943, before liberation, the Germans burned 870 of 893 apartment houses, the concert hall, the veterinary technical school, two hospitals, the post office, a bath house, a saw mill and two brick works. Pimen Iashkov, seventy years old, and Marfa Dinova, sixty-three, begged for mercy due to their age, and asked that their house be spared. In response, the house was set on fire, and the owners thrown into the fire. (GARF, f. 8114, op. 1. d. 955, ll. 9-10; copies at Yad Vashem, M-35/57).

Author's note: Cherikov – town in Mogilev region (oblast), 77 km. from Mogilev, crossroads on the Mogilev-Kostyukovichi and Bobriusk-Krichev roads; in 1641 – place in Pinsk powiat, Brest wojewodztwo of the Rzecz Pospolita; in 1648 King Vladislav IV gave Jews the same rights as Belarusians and Poles, removed restrictions on employment in trade and crafts, permitted the opening of a synagogue and Jewish cemetery; in 1649 – the Cossacks sacked Cherikov, but the Jewish community rebuilt; in 1766 – 186 Jews lived here; in 1847 – 1646 Jews; in 1897 – 2698 Jews out of 5000 residents; 1926 – 1544 Jews; 1939 – 949 Jews out of 6411 residents; occupied by German armies from July 17, 1941 to October 1, 1943, during which time 1118 people were murdered in the city and surrounding area.

[Page 194]

Yanovichi, (Yanavichi, Polish: Janowiczi)

Before World War II, Yanovichi was part of the collective farm “Internatsional” (International), and there were more than 1000 houses, 600 of them of stone. There were schools, a library, children's clubs, a linen factory, and tanning workshops. When the Germans arrived on July 12, 1941, they formed a ghetto (about 2000 people). Part of Vitebsk St. was fenced off with barbed wire and guarded. Yermolai Provon'i (Quick) (born 1891) recollected that on August 2, 1941, Germans collected about 150 men – Jews- from the area, drove them out toward Val'ki village and shot them. Another day, they killed a group of 70 men, according to the eye witness testimony of Shlema Belyayev and Zalman Vintsenzon. In mid-September, Jews were driven from their homes, checked according to lists made by burgomaster Vasili Visotski, and taken to Zaitevo village (7 km from Yanovichi). Non-Jews who protested on behalf of their neighbors, tried to hide them, or render other assistance, were pushed into the general column as “Jewish defenders” (sic – L. S.). Motor vehicles arrived, and the Jews were loaded on them. Those who could, climbed in, those who could not, were pushed in with kicks and blows from rifle butts. With shouts and cries, the vehicles left in the direction of Zaitsevo village.

Ignat Luk'anov, who was mowing grass for his cow, testified that Germans and policemen approached the anti-tank trench on the Yanovichi- Demidov “bol'shake” (highway – L. S.) going toward Zaitsevo village in two vehicles. In one were about 20 soldiers, in the other about as many Jewish girls. When Luk'anov asked where they were going, they answered, “To Demidov to harvest cucumbers”. The vehicles stopped near the trench, the girls were forced into the bushes and raped, then forced into the trench with blows from rifle butts and pushes. They were laid out in the hole and shot. In total there were 16 trucks and four groups of marchers of about 100-150 people. The other vehicles contained almost exclusively women, children and teenagers. They were undressed, led to the trench in pairs, forced to jump in, and shot. Children were thrown alive into the trench directly from the trucks. When the punitive squad left, Luk'anov approached the holes. They were covered over, and by the side of the road, the ground moved. According to rumor, the only one to escape was Israel Hoffmann, who disappeared completely. Aged Dr. Liftshits, who had been forced to translate, was in the last group. He was mocked and beaten, the stitches in a knife wound in his stomach torn open, and he was thrown down. Liftshits was killed with his wife and their 3-year-old grandson. Some Belarussians were murdered along with the Jews. Luk'anov heard someone say, “Farewell, Phillip!” That day, about 1600 people were killed.

The punitive squad wore red scarves with a swastika, and a skull-and-crossbones emblem on their hats. They plundered the houses of Jews and they took two vehicles loaded with victims' belongings to Yanovichi and exchanged them with peasants for milk and eggs. Non-Jewish youth born in 1925 and 1926 were kidnapped for hard labor in Germany, the property of the collective farm was plundered or destroyed. When Yanovichi was liberated, 320 residents out of 3,800 remained. The mass graves were opened in November 1943. They were 5 m across and 5 m deep, and filled to the top with human remains. Among the bodies recovered, only one was that of a man. The children's bodies had no marks of beatings or bullet wounds. Vasili Visotski (born 1880), the burgomaster of Yanovichi, was arrested, court-martialed in the First District, and sentenced to hang. The verdict was carried out. (Original sources at GARF, f. 7021, op. 84, d. 13, ll. 1-35; d. 448, l. 31-32; d. 449, ll. 64, 70; copies at Yad Vashem, M-33/448)

Author's note: Yanovichi – city in Vitebsk district (rayon), located on the V'miyanka River, 36 km from Vitebsk, connected to Liozno and Velizh by roads. During the Grand Duchy of Lithuania a place in Vitebsk povet. From the 18th century part of Surazh district (uezd) of Vitebsk guberniya. In 1897, 702 Jews lived here (out of 1234 residents), in 1923, 1320 Jews, and in 1939, 702 (out of 2037 residents). Occupied by German Armies from July 1941 to October 1943.

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