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Yelena Shekina
THE DEATH OF JEWS FROM SMOLIANY

Alexander Avramenko
TRIP TO SMOLIANY

THE DEATH OF JEWS FROM SMOLIANY

Smoliany. The road the Jews took to the execution. Smoliany. The road the Jews took to the execution.
Smoliany. The road the Jews took to the execution.

On April 5th 1942 Nazis executed from 600 to 800 peaceful Jewish residents of Smoliany. Most of them were old people, women and children.

This is the road they took to the place of their death, which was one kilometer away from Smoliany itself.

In 1948 the mass grave was surrounded with a wooden fence. Today there is a metal one.

Mass grave.
Mass grave.

Before the war Smoliany was a quiet settlement. Its Jewish residents earned their living mostly by making clothes, shoes. There were carpenters and blacksmiths.

When the war started, all the people were allowed to stay at their houses. However, the Jewish men were forced to work for the Nazis.

Old men did not have to work. There was no Judenrat. It is difficult to explain why the attitude to the local was so lenient in comparison with the Jewish from Orsha.

Then, on March 9th 1942 a ghetto was created and all the Jews had to settle in Shklovskaya Street. About 700 – 840 Jews had to live in 30 houses. The ghetto was surrounded with barbed wire but not guarded. It means there was a possibility to escape, but most of the people chose to remain in the ghetto. The main reason was that there was nowhere to go to. Other people chose to stay with their families. So, those who left were mostly single men.

On April 5th a truck drove into Smoliany. There were 15 German soldiers, 4 officers and local policemen. They gathered all the ghetto prisoners and took them to the ditch which had been dug the day before.

Mass grave. Photo taken in mid-50s. Mass grave. Photo taken in August, 2009.
Mass grave. Photo taken in mid-50s and August, 2009.

Yulia Shibeko recalls: “it was a Saturday. I was on my way to church and saw a long column of Jews, convoyed by Germans and policemen. Later I found out they had been taken to be executed. Among them I remember there was Faina Bromberg and her husband. After the execution the ground moved for several days. I know this because I saw it myself.”

Yelena Shekina
elena.shchekina@gmail.com

Еврейское местечко под Минском


Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

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