The war left a tragic trace in the fates of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Six million died in Eastern Europe, including no less than 700,000 in Belorussia. The memory of the Holocaust, of the German genocide, of the attitude of local residents who collaborated with the Nazis, remained indifferent, or, conversely, saved Jews, and of the participation in the partisan movement and the underground in many respects has affected the fate of the entire generation of Soviet Jews. For many years they kept silent. The authorities claimed that to speak about the Germans' special attitude toward Jews meant showing disrespect for other peoples who suffered from Nazism. Most of those who lived through the Holocaust have already left us. Their personal experience was not used. Almost an entire layer of the people's oral history disappeared -- instructive history imbued with tremendous emotional and moral strength. Among the few who have managed to leave their recollections, answer questions in the researcher's questionnaire, or give an interview, there are people from different cities and small towns in Belorussia. Let us listen to their voices.
Liza Ayzendorf (Zorina): Mama, Ester, gave birth to two boys -- Zelik and Lyolik -- and two girls -- Toma and me. Papa, Zakhar, worked in a blacksmith's shop from the age of 14. Grandma Eydli, papa's mother, lived with us. Her arm shriveled and turned black, but she tried to keep up her spirits and to help with housekeeping. In 1940 the radio appeared. When the war began, father hesitated on whether to leave. He believed that any regime needed a good blacksmith. We made up our mind at the last moment, but managed to get only to Pogost. Jews were moved to the ghetto on Internatsional'naya Street. When mama tried to bring food products from the village, she was taken to the police courtyard, undressed, and beaten before her children's eyes. Two days before the Aktion, father was carried home. Men were forced to do carpentry work and he accidentally hit his leg with an axe. It was snowing on the eve of the execution. The Sonderkommando came. Grandma had the good sense to hide us. She concealed Toma and me in the basement, into which one could squeeze only through a narrow manhole in the stove. Grandma hid Ester and the boys in the cellar, throwing rags over them. She herself did not hide, knowing that an empty house would surely be searched for people. From the basement, we heard the stamping of feet over our heads. On the third day, when we no longer heard shots and the barking of dogs, we got out. There was silence around. In many houses, doors were wide open. Suddenly, we ran into Yashka Vetushkin, Zelik's former friend and classmate, who went to serve in the police. He began to shout: A kike's snout! and pulled off the rifle from his shoulder. Mama threw herself on him and we ran away. We lost Zelik and Lyolik on the road.
For several months Toma and I wandered throughout the district, looking for our brothers. In the village of Ovruch, a woman gave us shelter for a short time. When at night two policemen came unexpectedly, suspecting that we were Jewish, she did not let them take us away. A recluse peasant let us into his hut for a week. He did not believe that we could save ourselves and, so that we might not suffer in vain, he offered to kill us himself. In Dubrovichi, we met former teacher Nikolay Kruglik, who was 25 years old. He suggested that we call ourselves Nina and Olya Martsinkevich and say that we ran away from a children's home. We were dirty, bitten all over by lice, and suffered from scabs. Nikolay's mother heated the bath for us and cut our hair. She left me with her and the Nikolskis took Toma. The neighbors' son went to the police and informed them that we were Jews. The Nikolskis were told to bring the kike girls. That night we went into the forest and found partisans. One day in the village of Torkovo, some girl friends and I were baking bread for the partisans. Someone informed on us. The Germans beat Valya Moroz and Katya Golub with bayonets and shot them. I got away, ran wherever my feet would take me, and got lost. By luck, I found myself in a neighboring detachment.
At the end of 1944, the Germans began to flee. Now it was the partisans who ambushed them. There were no more polizei. They took off their uniforms, laid down their arms, and melted away into nearby villages. The reprisal against those captured was swift. They were placed in covered dugouts, at which a grenade was hurled. I constantly begged for a hand grenade, but was chased away. One day in the morning, when there was a call for volunteers to execute fascists, I immediately took my place in the formation, till the last minute fearing that they would again chase me away...
I don't like to remember those years and, therefore, rarely go to the meetings of former ghetto and concentration camp prisoners. During my 10 years in Israel, I was there only a few times. Everyone had his own fate and his own luck, which enabled him to survive (A. Kaganovich, Getto na Internatsional'noy [The Ghetto on Internatsional'naya], Yevreyskiy kamerton, October 28, 1999).
Author's note: Berezino (Berazino) a town and rayon center in Minsk Oblast and a pier on the Berezino River, 101 km from Minsk. It was first mentioned in 1501 as a small town in Lyubashin Starostwo. In 1793 it was a small town in Igumen Uyezd. According to the 1897 census, 3,370 Jews (out of a total population of 4,897) lived there; in 1926 -- 1,565; in 1939 -- 1,536 (out of 4,830). From June 1941 to July 1944, it was occupied by German forces, which killed 1,200 people, including more than 1,000 Jews during the Aktsionen in July 1941 and July 1942. At the site of execution, there is a memorial to 940 Jews, who are designated as citizens of the city/pier of Berezino.
Yankel Gurevich (born in 1925): Father, Yankul, worked on the kolkhoz as a blacksmith and mother, Ester, had various jobs. I had sisters, Rachel and Ida, and brothers, Avraam and Kasriel. Rachel worked as a telephone operator. I remember two synagogues, which were closed during the 1930s. Before 1937, Jewish children went to a Yiddish school, which was later abolished. When the war began, many became bewildered and they panicked, not knowing what to do. Glusk was occupied on the fifth day. The Germans ordered all Jews, regardless of sex and age, to sew yellow patches on the front and back of their clothes. They threatened those who refused with execution. Soon they organized a camp for forced labor and ordered Jews to appear there daily. They let them go home in the evening. Jews were warned that noncompliance would result in execution. Father was a blacksmith and, therefore, our family was permitted to settle in the outskirts of Glusk. We were not given away, did not wear yellow patches or stars, and did not go to work in the camp. Most Belorussians sympathized with us. One day, I went to see my cousin in Glusk, who was not forced to work, because she had a small baby. A German stopped me and said: A Jew! I denied it. Then he called a passing neighbor and repeated the question. The neighbor answered that I was not a Yid. The German let me go.
During the first days of October 1941, Jews were rounded up in a camp. We heard shooting. A peasant came running up to father and said that we should run away as quickly as possible -- the Germans came and were executing Jews. We started running and, by different forest roads, reached the village of Rudobelka, where father's brother lived. The Germans were not yet there and several Jewish families remained. A few days later, in the forest, we met three people armed with submachine guns, one of whom, Chirlin, was a Jew. We told them what we saw and asked them to take us with them. This was a small group of 13 people -- I became the 14th. We were well received. Pavlovskiy was the detachment commander. We did not feel safe. We looked for reliable people, established contacts, and laid ambushes. Gradually, there were more and more Jews in the forests -- some rose to become commanders. I became the commander of the machine gun squad at the Uritskiy Detachment (Khavkin, commander). Vishnevskiy was the brigade interpreter. In July 1944, after the liberation of Belorussia, our brigade was disbanded. Young partisans joined the Soviet Army and went west. I was among them. I was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War and the medals For Valor, To a Partisan of the Great Patriotic War, for Victory over Germany, and so forth.
Our family greatly suffered from the Holocaust. In 1942 the Germans captured Ida and Kasriel in the forest and killed them. They put mother in the Glusk prison, where she hanged herself. They shot my cousin Nechama Gershman with her six-month old baby and, in Rudobelka, an aunt and another cousin. Uncle Kasriel, a demolition specialist in the Pavlovskiy Detachment, was killed in action in 1942.
My sister Rachel, who was with me in the detachment, in 1943 was wounded and was sent by airplane to a hospital in Moscow. My brother Avraam was killed during the capture of Berlin in May 1945.
That is all that remained from our large family. In 1949 I got married and had three sons. They received higher education. In 1990 we came to Israel and started all over again. (Author's archive. Letter by Yankel Gurevich dated July 10, 1994.)
Author's note: Glusk -- an urban settlement and a rayon center, located on the Ptich' River, 170 km from Mogilev, the junction of highways to Bobruysk, Lyuban', and Starye Dorogi. It was first mentioned in the middle of the 15th century. In the 18th century, it was part of Rechitsa Uyezd. In the second half of the 19th century, it was a small town and volost center of Bobruysk Uyezd in Minsk Guberniya. In 1847 a total of 3,148 Jews lived there; in 1897 -- 3,801 (out of a total population of 5,328); in 1926 -- 2,581; in 1939 -- 1,935, or 37.76 percent of all the residents; in 1924 it was the center of Glusk Rayon and in 1938 -- an urban settlement. From June 28, 1941 to June 27, 1944, it was occupied by German forces, which executed more than 3,000 Jews. After the war, a memorial complex of military fame was unveiled, but there is no mention of Jewish victims of German genocide.
Rivveka (Kagan) Aleyeva (born in 1923): Before the war, I was a student at the Teachers Faculty of the Smolensk Foreign Language Institute. On June 22, 1941, I took my party history examination ahead of schedule. I remember a question about just and unjust wars. I got an A and ran to the post office to telephone my parents in Gorki that I would be coming soon. On the road, I heard that the war had started. What did we know about the Germans' plans with respect to Jews? Refugees from Poland lived in Gorki and they talked about Nazi crimes. But everyone thought that the frightened people exaggerated, that this happened to some people, and that the Red Army would be able to protect us. No passenger transport operated and my aunt and I decided to walk to Gorki. Everyone was going east, while we hurried west, to Gorki. Our family gave shelter to refugees by the name of Taklenok with two small children. They told father that the Germans had crossed the Dnieper, took Shklov, would be in Gorki any day now, and that we must leave in a hurry. The Taklenoks had a britzka. We put grandma in it and, dressed as we were, we left. We only took the cow. In Kadino, we met relatives and together we continued on our journey. We walked about 7 km. We heard neither explosions nor shots. This was disturbing to us. Men went to Kadino and came back, saying that there were no Germans, everything was quiet. We were very reluctant to leave our homes of many years. Papa said: We will not go back. Aunt Rakhil with her husband and children, my friend Basya Krasik, her mother and sister, and others went back, ended up in the ghetto, and perished.
German leaflets were being thrown from airplanes: We are fighting against the kikes and the commissars, not against peaceful residents! People were afraid and did not let us into their homes. They could only feed us. We had no money. Salaries were not paid in June. We milked the cow, exchanged milk for bread and potatoes, and lived on this. We reached Tula, where we sold the cow and got into the train of evacuees. We stopped at the Kinel' station, not far from the Volga. Food for refugees was given out at the terminal. I took a pail and tried to get to the place where the food was being distributed, crawling under 14 trains. During that time, my train left and I remained there -- I was terrified. Then I got lucky. Soldiers from the Rostov Evacuation Hospital took me and registered me as a nurse. Seriously wounded people lay in railroad cars. I cleaned, delivered food, fed them, and helped as much as I could. It seemed to me that every wounded man was my brother, Boris (Berka Girshevich Kagan). He was drafted in 1940 and served in Volkovysk. We received no news from him. He is considered to be missing in action. This was an open wound. Our parents never talked about this, but once I saw my father looking at Boris' photograph and crying.
With the hospital I arrived at the Dzhuma (Uzbekistan) station, where unexpectedly I met my parents. We lived in a sheep pen with an earthen floor. It was cold -- we gathered anything that would burn. The food situation was even worse -- sugar beets were our main staple. We picked fruits of mulberry trees and gathered scraps of apples at the bazaar. I worked at the hospital, carrying patients. Nurse, give me a urinal! Nurse, I am thirsty! At night, I cleaned nine wards and during the day, the corridor. There was no running water. I carried water from the well in heavy earthenware jugs. Lice and diseases were all around. I also fell ill with typhus. As soon as I got over it, I contracted typhoid fever. I lay unconscious -- I don't know how I remained alive. After that, I had double pneumonia and then dysentery. I was destined to survive. I even managed to escape malaria, to which I was exposed. In Dzhuma, there was an entire cemetery for people who died of malaria.
While I was sick, the hospital moved to another place and I remained without documents or a ration card. Father worked in a school and we lived on his salary. The school hired me as a young pioneer leader. I was young and cheerful. At the age of 20, sorrow is not sorrow and trouble is not trouble. In 1944, riding on roofs and platforms of railroad cars, I returned to Smolensk. Then I went to Moscow, where recruitment for three-year courses for translators was going on. The courses required payment. One had to work during the day and study at night. But how to get a residence permit? My uncle brought alcohol from work and introduced me to the district militiaman. Eight people lived in my uncle's tiny room. I worked in school as an English teacher and later went to work at the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. I put on my best clothes: An Uzbek dress and an embroidered skullcap, which I brought from Dzhuma. I had braided black hair and was taken for an Uzbek woman. I was told that I was suitable for work at the Anglo-American Department. However, when I filled in the questionnaire in the personnel department, the officials' faces fell in surprise. They asked me to telephone in a week. Naturally, the position was taken. At that time, representatives of the Air Force Scientific Research Institute came to the courses and said that translators were needed for work at the headquarters. There was a great deal of work. The texts were difficult: description of motors and engines, specifications, and documents on aviation medicine. After some time, people came to the courses to look for translators in Berlin. Seventeen people were summoned and sent to the CPSU Central Committee for an interview. There again they inquired about my background and I, remembering my bitter experience, point-blank asked whether it mattered that I was a Jew. I don't know whether this played a part or not. Only three girls, including me, were picked. It took four months to process the documents. We went to Berlin on April 24, 1946. I was sent to the legal department of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany. It was located in Berlin's privileged Karlshorst district, where hereditary aristocracy lived. After May 1945, the Germans were evicted and I moved to a two-room apartment in a three-story house on Frankenstrasse. There was so much room that I felt uncomfortable. During the day, a German woman came, cleaned the apartment, and went to get the products due me according to the ration card. They included butter, sugar, and candy. We received everything free of charge. I was rarely at home and gave away a great deal to the German woman. I had to write a note to the guard so that she could take the products out of the house. Once a month, I sent a package home to Gorki.
At work we were fed free of charge. For lunch we usually had a tall glass of juice, rolls, butter, and soup. For the second course, there was a choice of meat dishes. There were also side dishes: Five to seven types of fruit and vegetable salads. Then coffee, tea, and pastry were served. There were always flowers on the table. A special person saw to this. There could be a large bouquet in the middle of the table, small bouquets in front of every person, or a few flowers placed on napkins. There was a special dinner service. The four flags were depicted on each piece -- a plate, a saucer, a cup, and an ashtray. On a home leave, I brought a souvenir -- a menu in three languages. Father looked at it and asked me to burn it -- the period of general suspicion and persecution of cosmopolitans was coming. So papa decided to keep me safe. The UN Department for Repatriation and Search was my last place of work in Berlin. We were constantly under surveillance. One had to be careful what one said to anyone.
In 1949 I returned to my homeland and went to Gorki. Papa, mama, and I lived in a school classroom. I began to work as an English teacher. In 1952 I got married. Twins, a boy and a girl, were born to us. I named my son in honor of my brother, Boris, who perished in the war. After the wedding, I retained my maiden name. When the doctors' affair began and every Jew was looked upon as an enemy, my husband said to me: Stop being stubborn, change to my last name. This is how I became Aleyeva (Mishpoha, No. 5, 1999, pp. 35-38).
Author's note: Gorki -- a town and rayon center in Mogilev Oblast, located on the Pronya River, 86 km from Mogilev; known since the 16th century. In the era of Rzeczpospolita, it was a town in Orshany Powiat, Troki Wojewodztwo. In 1772 it was annexed to Russia. Jews lived there since the 17th century; in 1766 -- 511 Jews; in 1847 -- 1,554; in 1897 -- 3,029 (out of a total population of 6,735); in 1926 -- 2,343; in 1939 -- 2,031 (out of a total population of 12,475). From July 12, 1941 to June 26, 1944, it was occupied by German forces, which killed 2,530 people, including 2,200 Jews, in Gorki and its rayon.
The officials of the Zheludok region fled at the start of the war. During the week when there was no governmental authority until the arrival of the Germans on June 27, 1941, the peasants from the villages looted Jewish homes, especially when there was no resistance. The Germans burned the town, sparing only the outskirsts, where they were to build the ghetto. They lived in crowded conditions, with several families to one room. The relationship toward the Jews changed. Some local people went to serve with the police and to collaborate with the new government, while others were prepared to assist. Most, however, remained indifferent. In the first few days, they executed six Jews - former communists, and then regularly killed persons involved in petty crime. At first the Germans, without any particular bias, demaned that the Jews wear yellow armbands.
When the new commander arrived at the workplace and ordered everyone to stand at attention, I was among those at work who did not yet have a yellow armband (the day before tape had been handed out). I pulled it out of my pocket, asked someone next to me for a pin, and put it on. My comrade could not find his armband. Thus, twenty-two Jews like him were taken aside and made to dig a grave. They were then shot. They ordered us to bury the dead. I remember one of them shouting, Jews! Don't cover the pit, I'm still alive! Within three days they allowed us to bury them in the Jewish cemetery. When we dug up the bodies, I found that damned armband in a friend's breastpocket that was the permit to stay alive.
On May 9, 1942, there was a general operation. Everyone was rounded up at a pre-dug pit outside of town. The Germans and Police executed some of the locals. Only the child Fishel Zborovsky survived. He barely escaped the pit and ran away, but then fell into the hands of the Germans again. Our entire family perished in teh pogrom - almost 30 people - my parents, my beautiful sister Enya, and others. Mother was only able to conceal Sheymele by placing him under some bricks in a Russian oven. At night, he got out and ran away. After extensive efforts, he found the partisans and asked to join their unit. Shleymele (19 years old), a blond-hairede boy, often participated in reconnaissance missions, exhibited daring and always wanted to be in front. He was mortally wounded in the last battle.
I only managed to escape the executiong because at the time of the executions, I was working in a neighboring village, from where I was taken to Lida. There already were partisans at that time. Once at night I made contact in order to get the surgeon Myasnik out of the ghetto and into the forest. On October 15, 1942, the doctor and I, together with several comrades and some non-functioning weapons, left the ghetto. The relationship of the partisans toward the Jews was varied. Some sympathized, while others did not hide their hostility. In my partisan unit, like all others, I went on my assignment, sat in ambushes and stood guard.
Boruch Levin went together with me. The police were looking for him, and he hid out constantly until leaving for the forest. In the unit Boruch became legendary, and he derailed 18 troop trains. The commander awarded him the medal of Hero of the Soviet Union, but he did not receive this medal. After the war, Boruch Levin left for Palestine and lived there until he died in 1981 at the age of 70.
Zheludok was liberated in July 1944. The commanders and commissars of the unit stayed around, organized local government departmens, and headed the regional Communist Party and regional political committee. Regular partisans joined the existing army and moved westward. After the war I was discharged and went home, but I could not live in Zheludok any more, so I moved to nearby Shuchin. I worked throughout the years, got married and set up a new home with a son and a daughter. I provided them with advanced education and had four grandchildren. In 1990 we all moved to Israel; this decision was not made quickly, and it was the children who had the final say. We bought an apartment, the children work, and the grandchildren attend university. Eventually they too will make their own lives. (Author's archive. Letter of Nochum Gertsovich Shifmanovich from Holon, July 4, 1994).
Author's note: Zheludok - an urban settlement (from 1962) in the Shuchin region of the Grodno oblast. During the time of the Oration of the Pospolita it was a town (from 1486), until 1567 - the center of the distirct of the Vilna province. In 1795 it became part of the Russian Empire. In 1847, there were 287 Jews, and in 1897 there were 1,372 Jews (out of a total population of 1,860). In 1921-39 it was part of Poland, the regional center of the Lida district of the province of Novogrudok.
At the time of the Polish census of 1931, there were 1,053 Jews. As of 1939, Zheludok was part of the Belarus SSR, a regional center. Between June 27, 1941 and July 9, 1944, it was occupied by German forces who killed approximately 2,000 people. Currently Zheludok has more than 3,000 people, including a few remaining Jewish families.
Shmuel Ryvkin: Since childhood, I knew that I only had one set of grandparents. Fascists killed my grandparents on papa's side, as well as his small brothers -- my uncles, who at that time were younger than I am now. They killed them together with everyone else. How did all this happen? How was it possible to kill half a city? How could they have let themselves be killed? Books about war did not write about this, nor did schools teach this. I began to ask questions. Thirty people -- non-Jews and Jews, who miraculously survived, and their relatives -- told me about Klimovichi. Now I know how Jews vanished from my city.
When, on June 29, 1941, the Germans occupied Minsk and the newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya was evacuated to Klimovichi, it was still quiet there -- only on the railroad station did a few bombs fall. In early July, residents began to be transported to the nearby rayon center, Krichev, for defense work. On July 14, families of active party members and rayon committee workers left Klimovichi. Ordinary people had two ways to travel -- by railroad and on carts. It was terrifying to travel by train -- shots were being fired from the air. People tried to leave on their own vehicles, bought horses, and harnessed even cows. By the beginning of August, hardly any Jews remained in the city. Even such people as Moyshe Natapov left. He used to say about the Germans: They are also people. All the roads led to Khotimsk, located 50 km from Klimovichi. Hundreds of Jewish families from small neighboring towns, even from Mozyr' and Minsk, gathered there. Many intended to wait there till the war was over and the Germans were driven away.
But everything turned out differently. Even the many people who left in the middle of July and reached Bryansk Oblast could not evacuate -- the front was rapidly moving west. Leyba Gurevich arrived at the city of Starodub. The Sabbath came. Some Jews traveled on and remained alive. Leyba's father-in-law was religious and, together with Moyshe Natapov's family and some others, refused to travel. He had a Torah scroll. Towards evening, the Germans appeared. They made the Jews, who arrived at Starodub, Khotimsk, Surazh, Khutor-Mikhaylovskiy, and the nearby villages of Rodnya and Pavlovichi, go back to Klimovichi, where their homes had already been pillaged. They established the police and began to force Jews to work. County administrator Shcherbakov, a former carpenter, the only Russian on the Jewish kolkhoz, was in charge of everything.
The policemen were more vicious than the Germans -- until the Gestapo came. They went to homes and demanded gold. The Osmolovskiy brothers were the first to join the police. Policeman Mikushkin came to Khaymore Khazanov and wanted to take away his cow. Khaymore did not give it to him, but was forced to let him milk it every day. Then they picked 12 respected Jews and forced them to go to homes together with Shcherbakov and persuade people to hand over gold and valuables -- for us, potatoes and bread was like gold. They included blacksmith Mordkhe Chernilovskiy, stove-maker Khazanov, pharmacist Danovich, brothers David and Ayzik Slutsker, Yankiv Krengauz, Velya Kopylov, Isaak Zak, and Karasik. Rodin, former chief of the Klimovichi Fire Department, was appointed chairman of the Judenrat. A tall, imposing, bespectacled man, he considered himself to be an intellectual and looked down on the local people. The Germans were dissatisfied with the collection of the levy and, at the end of August 1941, executed all the 12 people together with Rodin.
After the execution of the hostages, some people wanted to leave Klimovichi, but where to? They did not believe the rumors about mass extermination. If they fled, a sure death awaited their helpless relatives who remained there. To roam villages, where policemen were also present? To wander through the cold autumn forest, where there were not only partisans but also bandits? And besides, the partisans also differed. Near the branch of the State Bank, there was a prison where skilled Jewish craftsmen, who worked for the Germans, lived. A messenger from the partisans of the Za Rodinu [For the Homeland] Detachment came to them. The next day, as a result of denunciation by policeman Meshkovskiy, 12 Jews were executed in Vydrinka.
November 6, 1941 was the most horrible day. Young people were sent to work at the distillery. Under the Germans' guidance, policemen began to chase old people and children out of their homes, ordering them to take valuables and warm clothes. The sound of wailing hung over the city. Groups of Jews were taken to the garages near the hospital. Some Russians looked at this with sympathy and others, with curiosity, readily helping the police. In the outskirts of the city, behind the Kalinitsa River, near the old airport facing the village of Dolgaya Dubrava, a tank for fuel had been dug in the ground. Not long before the war, it was taken out and a huge pit remained. It was turned into a common grave. The line to the execution stretched from the garages across the bridge and up the road to the pit itself -- 900 people. All around there was an open field -- there was nowhere to run to. The execution went on all day long. Then those who worked in the morning were brought in. The SS men themselves did not fire -- on their order, the policemen did this. Children were killed with shovels -- blood was flowing on the ground.
On November 20, all the Jews who survived after November 5 were rounded up and taken to Melovaya Gora. This is a place in the outskirts of Klimovichi by the Lobzhanka River, where there used to be a lime hill. Nothing remained of it -- all the lime was removed over a period of many years. After that execution, in Klimovichi, Jews remained only in the small house near the prison. No one knows how many Jews were there and where and when they were executed. Most likely, in urochishche [natural boundary] Vydrinka, located 2 km from the city, before the Germans' withdrawal in 1943. It is only known that the disabled shoemaker Indin was there with his family. Jewish Red Army men, who got out of the encirclement, used to come to Klimovichi. There were few doors for them to knock on. Grigoriy Feldman, Grigoriy Katz, and teacher Perchin were traced and executed. Abram Suranovich, who did not look like a Jew, hid in the village for a long time, but he, too, was killed. Iche-Borukh Karasik was lucky: His neighbors Azarova and Logvinova did not give him away. He joined the partisans and survived the war.
It would seem that that was all -- there was no one left to catch and execute. But, in the spring of 1943, black uniforms again appeared in Klimovichi. They took non-Jewish wives and children with mixed blood. On April 12, 1943, they and all the gypsy families were killed in urochishche Vydrinka. In September 1943, Klimovichi was liberated and a peaceful life began, but without Jews. Of those who had remained at the beginning of the evacuation, 15 people were saved: Bela Stukalo, Fanya Manevich, Leybe and Grunya Gurevich with daughter Raya, Khana Kozlova with children Nina and Lenya, Etta Natapova and her father Moyshe-Gdales, Raya Shkolnikova and two of her female cousins, Nina Vinokurova, and Khaymore Khazanov. At the end of the 1950s, on the common grave of 900 Jews in the outskirts of Klimovichi, behind the hospital (now Berezovaya Street), relatives of those who perished put up a modest monument with a six-pointed star and inscriptions in Yiddish and Russian. Twenty-five years later, the Star of David was knocked down by order of the local authorities. The explanation given to Jews was that, after the Yom Kippur War of 1967, that fascist symbol had to be removed. Why write about all this? So that people remember. We remember everything. Mir Gedenken alts [We remember everything in Yiddish -- translator.] (Jewish History and Literature: A Collection of Essays. Edited by Moshe S. Zhidovetsky, Vol. II, Part 2, Rehovot, Israel, 1992, pp. 869-876).
Author's note: Klimovichi (Klimavichy, Klimowicze) -- a rayon center in Mogilev Oblast, 124 km from Mogilev; known since early 17th century -- a uyezd town in Mogilev Guberniya. In 1784 a total of 1,107 Jews lived there; in 1897 -- 2,263 (out of a total population of 4,714); in 1910 -- 3,292; in 1926 -- 2,587; in 1939 -- 1,693 (out of a total population of 9,551). From August 10, 1941 to September 28, 1943, it was occupied by German forces, which killed 1,346 people, including more than 1,000 Jews, in the city and the rayon.
Tsalya (Vyacheslav) Tamarkin (1930): The Germans came in the middle of July 1941. They placed the commandant's office in the former outpatient clinic -- a solid log house with a high porch. They converted the shed, which served as a warehouse for stock and drugs and always smelled of carbolic acid, into a prison. Our home was located at a distance of about 200 meters from the commandant's office. That is where the old Jewish cemetery began. The area was on a hill and after every rain it always dried up quickly. The son of Lyady's former priest showed up with the Germans. Elderly people, who remembered the priest as a decent man, rejoiced. The son of the priest himself! But soon they were bitterly disappointed. The priest's son turned out to be a real beast. He was appointed chief of police. Jews from the former Nai Lebn (New Life) Kolkhoz were forced to work without pay for the priest's son.
The Lyady ghetto formally did not have boundaries. After the fire, only 46 Jewish homes were spared. Everyone could enter the small town, but could leave it only with a permit from the commandant's office. Jews did not receive permits. The relatives of those executed began to arrive from Krasnoye, Kopys, Dubrovno, Gusino, and other places. Most of them survived, because they did not have a pronounced Jewish appearance. It became clear that the Aktionen were carried out according to a general plan. But no one understood why Jews were being killed. Before the start of the war, my sister Sonya (Shyfra) came from Smolensk to our parents in Lyady. She had two sons: three-year old Grisha and six-month old Iosif. In the ghetto, without milk, the younger one got sick and died. A German officer, a likable fellow with good manners, fell in love with Sonya. He came often, bringing food products and milk. Thanks to him, the policemen stopped robbing and beating us. The officer did not force himself on Sonya and promised to save her and her son, but she flatly turned him down.
Towards the end of the autumn of 1941, the Germans were in an excellent mood. They declared that the war would end soon and the fuehrer would travel to Moscow through Lyady along the old Smolensk road. At the commandant's office, they hung a map, on which every day they marked the advance of German forces with small flags. The stooge polizei offered soldiers home-brew and snacks in order to celebrate the health of the liberator Hitler. Jews were forced to pave the town's central street with bricks. They were forbidden to wear gloves despite the cold. Jews were not allowed to carry bricks on handbarrows from sites of fire, to use scrapers, shovels, or bars, or to straighten their backs.
The first Aktion was carried out at the end of September 1941. Members of the punitive squads arrived from the city of Krasnoye, rounded up Jews, and herded them into the ravine north-west of Lyady. They brought Sara Nalkina, Tanya Kalner, Isaak Kuznetsov, Izya Yukhvich, and others on a cart. A plate bearing the inscription partisan hung on everyone's chest. They read an order stating that those young people did harm to the German Army on the territory liberated from Bolsheviks and Jews and executed them. Then they forced everyone to go to the Jewish cemetery, where there was a table, chairs, and two benches with rods. Wildly screaming, they separated the men, women, and children. They placed boys and girls in two columns, put them one by one on benches, and flogged them with the rods. They took hostages and announced that they would execute them if by morning they did not receive a certain amount of silver and gold from the Jews. In order to reinforce the impression, they separated 29 intellectuals from the men and executed them. Moshe-Meyer Fradkin, Leybe Lipovich, Nokhem and Leyb-Iche Zolotovitskiy, Zalman Velikovskiy, and others were among them. People, shaken by what had happened, began to bring tableware, glasses, rings, and earrings, which they still had, to the Judenrat. When this proved to be insufficient, they began to pull out their dental crowns. They hostages were released.
In February 1942, the Germans established a small ghetto. They fenced off the area of the Belorussian 10-year school and the adjoining park. At the corners, there were observation towers. In the school building, they boarded up the windows and locked hundreds of people in it. Everyone stood close to each other. When men tried to break the door, policemen opened fire from a machine gun. In the morning, they formed a Sonderkommando out of Jews, who under the policemen's supervision carried out corpses from the school, piled them up on a sledge, and, harnessing themselves instead of horses, took them to the cemetery. Epidemic typhus broke out. My brothers Yasha (six years old) and Gdaliya (10 years old) and I were next to the family of aunt Malka Tamarkina. Soon her children -- Leyzer and Eliyagu -- fell ill, as did my brothers. It was March. I knocked icicles off the roof, moistened the children's lips, and applied cold to their heads. They could not eat and lay unconscious on the floor. Snow had already been cleared out of the antitank ditch. Malka, all grey and shriveled, demanded that I leave. In the evening, I went out into the yard. Between the lavatory and the observation tower, there was a pile of school desks, which came up to the wire itself. I hid, waited till dark, and crawled under the wire. On April 2, 1942, the first day of Passover, Jews were taken to the antitank ditch and more than 3,000 were executed. Father awaited me in the forest, not far from the village of Novo-Palkino. Together we looked for and found partisans. (Author's archive. Letter by V. Tamarkin from Haifa dated December 1, 1999.)
Author's note: Lyady - a village in Dubrovno Rayon, Vitebsk Oblast, on the Mereya River (a Dnieper tributary), 29 km from Dubrovno; known since the end of the 16th century. In the era of Rzeczpospolita, it was a small town in Orsha Powiat, Troki Wojewodztwo, and later in Gorky Uyezd, Mogilev Guberniya. Shneur-Zalman Shneerson, the founder of Chabad, lived in Lyady. It was the residence of the tsadiks (righteous men) Rabbi Shneur Khaim-Zalman Shneerson (died in 1879) and his successor, Rabbi Dov-Ber Shneerson (died in 1910). In 1766 a total of 207 Jews lived there; in 1847 -- 2,137; in 1897 -- 3,763 (out of a total population of 4,483); in 1926 -- 2,020; in 1939 -- 897. From July 18, 1941 to October 8, 1943, it was occupied by German forces, which killed more than 2,000 Jews. In 1966 relatives of those perished erected a memorial to the victims of fascism without any mention of Jews.
Raisa Gitlina (Epshteyn): At the beginning of the war, I was 15 years old. When the Germans approached the city, we fled. During one of the bombings, father lost us. The Germans were already all around and only one route back to Minsk remained. Many people shared this fate. The roads were blocked with returnees. Our house on Kirov Street was burned down and we stayed in an aunt's apartment on Nemiga Street. On August 1, 1941, we moved to the area of Yubileynaya Ploshchad' [Anniversary Square], where the ghetto was organized. We soon realized what that was for. The Germans ordered Jews to wear yellow patches and somewhat later added a tag bearing the number of the house where they lived. They hated the Jews, but their hatred took the form of a well-thought out job. They carried out their pogroms in such a way that it was impossible to foresee the course of events.
The first pogrom took place on November 7, 1941. They cordoned off part of the ghetto and grabbed everyone without exception, but set free those who had certificates stating that they worked. They released their family members with them. A woman neighbor saved mama and me, passing us off as her relatives. People rushed to look for any job, seeing salvation in this.
The second pogrom was carried out two weeks later -- on November 20, 1941. Another part of the ghetto was cordoned off, everyone without exception was taken, and no certificates helped. People with documents considered themselves safe and they paid for this.
The third pogrom occurred on March 2, 1942, but again in a different way. The Germans led the work columns out of the ghetto, as usually, turned them to Shornaya Street, to the left of the gate, and surrounded them with a thick ring of guards with dogs. They separated the specialists and executed the rest. I survived miraculously. I seized the moment when the Lithuanian guard turned away to light a cigarette and dashed to the hole of the barrier. They fired after me. It was dark and drizzly. I fell flat on my face, lying among the dead, and returned to the ghetto at night.
The fourth pogrom took place on July 28, 1942. In the morning, the columns were taken out according to schedule. Then SS units entered the ghetto and the extermination began. The columns were detained at workplaces for four days. When they returned, they were confronted by a ghastly picture: demolished floors of houses, broken windows, knocked out doors, overturned furniture, and blood sticking to walls and the ground everywhere.
After the first two pogroms, part of the area was cleared for the so-called Sonderghetto. It turned out that this was not for us. Jews were brought from other European countries. They were nicknamed Hamburg Jews after the name of the first group. Jews from Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Munchen, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and France followed. These Jews were quite different -- intellectuals from well-to-do bourgeois families. Most of them were not familiar with physical labor and did not know how to take care of themselves. The Nazis said that they brought them to colonize the Asian East and to show an example to backward people. Many of them were haughty and believed that Jewish Communists -- Soviet citizens -- owing to whom Hitler started the war, were to blame for their misfortune. Naturally, they did not know Russian. Many did not even speak Yiddish and could not communicate with the local population. Finding themselves in an alien environment, cut off from their relatives, they were lost. The Hamburg Jews did not have to be killed -- they died on their own, like flies.
On March 31, 1943, with a group of prisoners, I managed to flee from the ghetto on a truck. We ended up at the location of the Second Minsk Partisan Brigade and lived in the villages of Borki, Porech'ye, and Vyyemka. Gradually men began to be assigned to detachments, but I was not. However, I wanted to take revenge. As luck would have it, Sarichev, a representative of the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement from Moscow, came to the detachment. I managed to get an appointment and begged to be admitted to the Sokol Detachment (Leonov, commander). A month past, preparations were being made for a railroad operation, but I was not taken. I pleaded, cried, followed the commander, and he gave in: The hell with you, go!
It took us a long time to get, in a roundabout way, to the place. We had to cross a river, but I did not know how to swim. When I was in the water up to my neck, the thought flashed through my mind: Why did I go? After all, no one asked me. I was afraid that I would drown. Partisan Terekh, one of the locals, was assigned to me and he dragged me by the scruff of my neck. While he was dragging me, he was constantly cursing. Finally, we got across the river. We were strung out in a line. Each of us was given a block of TNT in the form of soap and special matches, which rain or wind would not extinguish. The Germans guarded the railroad, built permanent emplacements at crossings, sent patrols in trolleys, and cleared forest paths along the embankment, but a sentry cannot be posted at every meter. We passed through boggy swamps -- a God-forsaken spot where partisans were not expected. Upon a signal flare, each of us ran out to his position and stuck a demolition charge into the ditch between the rails. At a second signal, everyone started the fire simultaneously and began to withdraw. The Germans spotted us and opened fire. It became light as day. You could have gotten deaf from the cannonade. I jumped up and shouted For the Homeland! For Stalin! The wounded and killed were falling around me, but we accomplished our mission.
At the age of 15-16 in the ghetto, I saw much blood and many deaths and murdered people, but this time, owing to a nervous shock, I came down with temperature and became delirious. I could not get rid of hallucinations -- the whistling of bullets, mine explosions, people's screams, groans of the wounded and dying, obscenities, and swearing. For three days, I lay unconscious and feverish on a plank bed in a forest dugout, without medication. After that, fear left me forever. There were many such operations -- ambushes and attacks on the support points of the police and the Germans. I tried to participate in everything. In October 1943, our detachment, which was part of the Ponomarenko Brigade, moved to Belostok Oblast. On the way, I came down with typhus. To remain in the village meant a sure death because my appearance left no doubt that I was Jewish. They shaved my hair, burned my overcoat and underwear, dressed me in men's clothes, and transported me on a cart in a pile of straw. They gave me shots of camphor and a fruit drink. For 12 days, I was unconscious and, when I regained consciousness, it was hard for me to understand who and where I was. Only near Gantsevichi was I placed in a village hut equipped as a hospital. My recovery was difficult -- typhus caused complications in my legs.
In the detachment, the Jewish issue did not arise -- I did not feel inferior. The war produced new criteria. In 1944 I was awarded the Order of Soldier's Glory, a rare award among partisans. But anti-Semitism existed -- there was no getting way from it -- and it made itself felt. Near Gantsevichi, when I was bedridden, I asked the landlady to wash the partisans' camouflage smocks and heard her saying: Look who is talking? I will not obey a Jew's order! Had I been well, I would have killed her on the spot for such words. What was I to do? I burst into tears. Rita Minenkova, a friend, came in and asked me what was the matter. She began to calm me down. Two hours later, the woman came crawling almost on all fours to ask my forgiveness -- the partisans beat her up.
There were also anti-Semites among the partisans themselves. In our Second Minsk Brigade, Detachment No. 5 operated under the command of I. Lapidus, former secretary of the Rudensk Rayon Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Belorussia. He established a Jewish detachment, which became part of the brigade. The detachment was sprinkled with Belorussians, Russians, and people of other nationalities, but the backbone was Jewish. The detachment remained close-knit, ready for action, and first in discipline, which was a major problem in the partisan environment. Lapidus, who never stepped out of line, exemplified decency? This was in total contrast to the brigade leadership, which had its VPZh (military wives -- L.S.). The results of combat operations, the number of losses, the extent of the damage done to the enemy, discipline, and other matters were reviewed on a monthly basis. For example, it was announced that the Lapidus Detachment was in first place. A comment from the audience: Of course, they always knew how to fix things up! The following month, another detachment was in first place, and again the comment was: What do you expect from the Khaymoviches? They were never satisfied.
I was liked in the detachment. I went on dangerous missions, made speeches in the agitation brigade, read poems, and danced -- I was noticed. I was not terrified of fighting -- I only feared wolves, I feared them more than the Germans. Some played practical jokes on me. They told me a horrible story about what happened when they went on night duty. I solved the problem in my own way: I climbed a high tree and observed from its top. Later I worked at the Headquarters of the Partisan Movement in liberated Minsk, studied at a polytechnic school and a law institute, and reunited with my father who fought, survived, and was appointed first director of a prosthesis plant.. My father looked for me all over the destroyed city. On the street, he approached partisans, who sharply differed from the rest, wearing civilian clothes and carrying weapons, and inquired about me. One such partisan gave him my address. (Author's archive. Record of a talk with R.M. Gitlina [Epshteyn] dated September 5, 1993 in Jerusalem.)
Author's note: Minsk -- the capital of the Republic of Belarus (1919) and an oblast and rayon center, situated on the Svisloch' River. It was first mentioned in 1067. In the 14th century, it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 16th century, it was part of Rzeczpospolita and the center of Minsk Wojewodztwo. In 1793 it was annexed to the Russian Empire -- a guberniya center. In 1802 a total of 2,675 Jews and 1,176 Christians lived in the uyezd together with Minsk; in 1897 -- 47,562 Jews (out of a total population of 90,912); in 1904 -- 53,000 (out of 102,000). From February through December 1918, the forces of Kaiser Wilhelm II occupied it, and from August 1919 through July 1920, Polish forces. In 1924-1930, it was the center of Minsk Okrug, and from 1938, of the oblast. In 1926 a total of 53,686 Jews lived there; in 1939 -- 70,998 (out of a total population of 238,948). From June 28, 1941 to July 3, 1944, the Nazis occupied it, killing more than 400,000 people in Minsk and its environs and turning the city into ruins.
The main ghetto in Minsk existed from August 1941 until October 1943. No less than 100,000 Jews perished in it, including 18,000 during the first pogrom on November 7-8, 1941; 15,000, on November 20, 1941; 8,000, on March 2, 1942; 25,000 on July 28, 1942. On October 21, 1943, Jews transported from Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt-am-Maine, Brno, Bremen, Vienna, and other European cities were exterminated. The second ghetto in Minsk was located on the site of a radio plant (October 1943-June 30, 1944).
Abram Bukhman (born in 1916): Our family consisted of seven people -- father, Shlema, mother, Ester, sons Abram and Yura, and sisters Fanya, Sonya, and Rita. Father was a carpenter and mama made sure that the household ran smoothly. Our parents observed the tradition, went to the synagogue, and did not work on the Sabbath. There were four synagogues, which were closed in 1934. Two were converted into clubs and others became warehouses. Before I was drafted into the Red Army in 1937, I worked as a turner at a plant in Minsk and then I was put into the militia. On the eve of the war, my parents summoned me from Minsk, because of the sickness of my sister Fanya, who died on June 21, 1941. Many Jews did not manage to evacuate. Those were mainly people encumbered by large families, the sick, old men, and women. With the Germans' arrival, mass plundering began -- primarily of the Jewish homes whose owners had been evacuated. The Germans ordered the Jews to register and made lists of their places of residence. Then they began to bring Jews from nearby villages to Mozyr'. In January 1942, ghetto prisoners were forced out of the city and executed (1,500 people, near the village of Bobry -- L.S.). Among those perished was papa's sister Khana, her husband, Meyer Mogilevskiy, their six children, the oldest of whom, Fana, was 11 years old, and grandfather Nokhim, who was 82 years old.
In July 1941, mobile groups were formed out of militia and state security workers. They were sent to the occupied territory to organize resistance and partisan detachments. After the first skirmish, our group was dispersed. For three months I wandered through the forests. Only in November did I run into partisans in the village of Rudobelka, Oktyabr' Rayon, Poles'ye Oblast, under the command of future Hero of the Soviet Union Pavlovskiy. I was sent to Yakov Chirlin's detachment. It had many Jews, including the commander himself, and the national question did not arise. Those who escaped from the ghettos of Mozyr', Parichi, Azarichi, Kopatkevichi, Petrikov, and other places fought there. In December 1941, we destroyed the German garrison in Azarichi and saved 150 Jews. In January 1942, we wiped out a police battalion sent to Oktyabr' Rayon to fight partisans and liquidated a detachment of railroad workers at the Mulyarovka station in Petrikov Rayon; in February, a police garrison in the village of Makhnovichi, Rudobelka Rayon. In June, we blew up a railroad bridge across the Ptich' River. In July 1943, we blew up an enemy garrison in Parichi, Bobruysk Rayon, and in October we derailed a train with manpower and machinery headed for the front. The following distinguished themselves in particular: Boris Mindlin, Vladimir Kamenetskiy, Isaak Meltser, Iosif Bozik, Matvey Shulman, and Nokhum Shpitalnik, who after the war were awarded orders.
In order to expand the zone of partisan operations in Western Belorussia, a detachment was formed out of old battle-hardened partisans (250 people) under the command of Ivanov and commissar Rumyantsev. In September 1943, we fought our way, past covering police detachments, to the village of Zaluzh'ye, Byten' Rayon, Baranovichi Oblast. In a short time, we established six partisan detachments out of the local population. I was appointed the detachment's political instructor in the village of Zaluzh'ye. All the previously operating anti-fascist groups and small detachments were unified into the Grizodubova Brigade (Ivanov, commander; Rumyantsev, commissar; Baranov, chief of staff). I became the brigade's deputy commander for the Komsomol. One day, the arrival of a large group of civilians to the brigade was announced. The commissar summoned me and ordered me to investigate who they were. I went out and did not believe my eyes: They were ghetto prisoners from Baranovichi who survived. When these ragged and hungry people saw that a Jew came to meet them, tears of joy and happiness filled their eyes, because they were not sure how they would be treated. They were fed and taken to rest. The staff was convened to decide what was to be done with them. Some commanders opposed accepting the Jews into detachments, the reason being that if, during a period of two years, they did not find a way to get in touch with partisans, let them now decide their fate on their own. By a majority of the votes, the staff accepted the commissar's proposal to distribute the young people among detachments and not to give them weapons -- they should get them on their own during the first fight. Specialists needed for supply companies were picked and the rest were placed in dugout shelters outside the brigade zone and provided with guards and food. Among the Jews there were shoemakers and tailors, who serviced the partisans. Yefim Shneerson became chief physician at the partisan hospital and his wife, Golda, became chief internist. Sixty-five Jews were saved in this way.
In the summer of 1944, the brigade was disbanded, the young partisans were drafted into the Soviet Army, and the elderly returned home. In 1946 many of them went to Poland and from there, to America and Palestine. I got typhus and was sent to a partisan hospital. When I was discharged, I was assigned to the intelligence group of the Belorussian SSR NKVD headed by Captain Usmanov, and then I became an operations officer in the Baranovichi Oblast department. I was awarded two orders of the Patriotic War 1st Class and medals. Two years later, I was discharged from the organs and went to work as a turner at Mozyr'ptitsemash. In 31 years, I worked my way up from a machine setter to the chief of the plant's machine shop.
In 1942 my parents and sister died of hunger under evacuation in Central Asia. Only my sister Rita survived -- she now lives in the city of Chita. My brother, Yuriy, fought during the entire war -- from the first to the last day -- and returned home with the rank of major. Now, a disabled war veteran, he lives in Israel. In 1990 I came to Israel with my son's family. In Carmiel we received a beautiful two-room apartment from the state. My wife and I became firmly convinced that Jews should live on their own land, which God gave to them. (Author's archive. Letter by Abram Solomonovich Bukhman from Carmiel dated August 1, 1994.)
R.A. Sherman: During the war years, I was evacuated from Mozyr' and returned to my native city in September 1944. Neighbors who lived through the German occupation told me how the Nazis executed, hanged, and drowned Mozyr' residents and, especially, Jews. In order to avoid harassment and torment, Jews tried to flee or hide, and some committed suicide. At the end of 1941, a large group of mainly elderly Jews gathered in house No. 19 on Pushkin Street, in the vicinity of which I lived before the war. The die was cast, falling upon Khaya Hofshteyn. She took a torch and started a fire. About 40 people died in the fire, including the Hofshteyn -- Elya (born in 1900), Feyga (1905), Sosha (1922), Eyer (1913), Khaya (1915), Shlema (1935), and Roza (1917); the Gofmans -- Eliyagu (1870) and Malka (1910); Gutman (1885) and Nisel Gutman (1860); Domnich (1895) and Domnich (1896); the Zaretskis -- Brokha (1887) and Berka (1897); Izrail Kagan (1901), Movsha Ravinovich (1905), Sonya Roginskaya (1908), Gneysha Sandomirskaya (1872), Itskhak Farber (1890), Fanya Shekhtman, and others. After the war ended, some people wanted to build a house at the site of the fire, but gave up that idea. When the foundation was being prepared, numerous human bones were found. To this day, this site stands empty (Pamyats', Mazyr, Mazyrski rayen, [Minsk, 1997], pp. 201 and 209).
Author's note: Mozyr' (Mazyr, Mozyr) - a town of oblast subordination and the center of Mozyr' Rayon, Gomel' Oblast. It was first mentioned in the annals in 1155 as a city in the Duchy of Kiev. In the era of Rzeczpospolita, it was the main powiat town in Novogrudok Wojewodztwo. In 1766 a total of 896 Jews lived there. In 1801 it was a uyezd town in Minsk Guberniya (878 Christian town dwellers and 774 Jews). It had seven Jewish and no Christian merchants. In 1897 a total of 6,631 Jews lived there (out of a total population of 8,076); in 1926 -- 5,655; in 1939 -- 6,307 (out of a total population of 17,477). In 1935-1938 it was the center of Mozyr' Okrug; in 1928-1954, the center of Poles'ye Oblast. From August 22, 1941 to January 14, 1944, it was occupied by German forces, which executed 4,700 Jews. A ghetto was organized on Romashov Rov Street (NARB [the National Archive of the Republic of Belarus], f. 861, op. 1, d. 12; l. 2; f. 845, op. 1, d. 12, l. 32; the Zonal State Archive of the City of Mozyr', f. 310, op. 1, d. 15, ll. 4, 12, and 14).
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