Miory (Myory) | Vitebsk

/ Yahad team searching for the witnesses at the exit of the church © Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum Maria G., born in 1931, remembered that the ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire. It was guarded by the policemen and the Germans with dogs. © Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Yahad team during the interview with Maria G. in Miory. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum Vladislav M., born in 1927, remembered the ghetto where the Jews from Miory were detained. ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Galina R., born in 1928, saw the synagogue after the execution full of blood; the prayer books were damaged on the ground. ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Zoya N., born in 1925, was forced by the policemen to watch the murders and especially the shooting of Jews the witness knew.  ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Amelia Sh., born in 1938: “The Jews were lined up at the edge of the pit in groups of twos. I saw that one Jewish kid managed to escape”.  ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Anton M., born in 1914, remembered that one Jewish man, David, managed to escape to Glubokoye. ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum Vaislav Y., born in 1928: “The Germans promised an amnesty to those who had escaped if they came back. A lot of Jews believed it”. ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum The execution site of Jews in Miory. ©Guillaume Ribot-Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews in Miory

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Over 2,000

Witness interview

Galina R., born in 1928, remembered: “The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by Germans. […] One day the ghetto was set on fire and many Jews were burned alive inside of it. Those who attempted to escape or to hide and were found and were killed on the spot. I saw how the corpses were taken from there. The local people who had carts were requisitioned to transport he bodies. Even if they didn’t want to do that, they didn’t have choice. I don’t know where they were transported to. I guess they were all buried in one mass grave. I also remember seeing a German pulling a child from his mothers’ arms, who managed to escape from the fire, and hit him against the sidewalk. […] After that Aktion, when we entered the synagogue there was a lot of blood on the walls and Jewish books were thrown everywhere.”. (Testimony n°71, interviewed in Miory, on July 20, 2008)

Soviet archives

“Maria K. declared: « In July 1942, a death squad called the 13rd Regiment-Schutzpolizei numbering from 800 to 1000 men,- I don’t know the name of commander of the squad and his rank; arrived to the region, and with the gendarme G. (or H.), Hauptwachmeister of Druya, they organized the execution of soviet civilians, the majority of whom were Jewish. 125 people were shot in Leonpol and buried in the same place of their execution, close to Druya, district of Miory. Two people were shot in Leonpol under the order of H., the chief of the gendarmerie, and then, they were thrown to the West Dvina.
[…]
On May 1942, the German fascists’ barbarians made the Jewish civilian population of Miory suffer an incredible atrocity.
A special SS unit arrived from Glubokoye, it gathered all of the Jewish civilian population of the town and surrounding villages at one place, under the pretext of identity verification. Then, everyone was confined in the barn and warehouses, from where they were taken in vehicles to the Krokovka forest, 1 km northeast from Miory, and there they were all shot. […]" [Act drawn up from the declarations of local residents on April 19 of 1945, by State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 92, Delo 217]

Historical note

Miory is located 237 km away of Minsk and about 80 km west of Vitebsk on the banks of the Miorskoye Lake. In 1921 there were about 400 Jews in the town. The majority of Jews lived off of small trade. Many worked as artisans or at linen or furniture’s factories.  In 1920-1930 a couple of Jewish Zionist organizations operated in the town. There were two synagogues and a Jewish cemetery.  On the eve of the war about 725 Jews lived in Miory. The Germans occupied the town on July 2, 1941.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Shortly after Germans’ arrival a pogrom was conducted by 30 local Poles headed by a local doctor. During this pogrom; a local rabbi and his wife were killed.  At the same period, two local Jews were arrested by Germans and shot in the nearing forest.

After that, all Jews were forced to wear a distinguishing sign. At the beginning it was an armband and later a yellow Star of David. The Jews were also forced to perform different kinds of forced labor during which they were guarded by policemen. At the end of June of 1941 the Judenrat (Jewish council) was established in the town.

 The ghetto was created in the fall of 1941 or spring of 1942 and contained not only local Jews but also those brought from the nearby villages. Even if in the historical sources it is stated that the ghetto was opened, the local witnesses interviewed by Yahad, said that the ghetto was fenced in with barbed wire and guarded day and night by policemen and Germans.

The biggest mass execution was conducted on June 2, 1942 by an SS unit assisted by local police. During the liquidation of the ghetto 678 to 800 Jews (different sources give different numbers)   were taken to the Krukovka forest where they were shot in the pits dug in advance. There were women, elderly people and children among the victims. About 70-80 Jews managed to escape to the forest; a few of them were shot by Germans on the spot. 

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