Naroch/Kobylnik (Narach, Narocz) | Minsk

Jewish Cemetery Photo from the Colman Collection © taken from kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kobylnik A group of young people pluck chickens outside a log cabin in Narocz, Poland. © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Anne Miransky Group portrait of a Jewish partisan musical troupe in the Narocz Forest in Belorussia. © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benjamin (Miedzyrzecki) Meed / A portrait of the partisan fighter and artist Alexander Bogen. © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Alexander Bogen Street in Naroch, 2016. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The ancient Jewish cemetery is located in the central part of the town. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum The cemetery is surrounded by a stone fence and has dozens of old gravestones and a monument for “156 Jews of Kobylnik who were killed by German Fascists and their collaborators in death camps..." © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Iryna Ch., born in 1925, met one Jewish man hiding behind the gravestone in the Catholic cemetery. He   called her and told that there were many wounded people in the pit, and several of them crawled out. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Yahad team with the witness Iryna Ch. near the execution site of about 320 Jews in Naroch. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews from Kobylnyk and Naroch in Naroch

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Field
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
About 320

Witness interview

Irina Ch., born in 1925, remembered: «There was no ghetto here. The Germans conducted raids and searched every house. I knew the Svirsky family. The mother was a dressmaker. One German gave her his clothes when he needed to shorten the sleeves. One day he informed her that tomorrow morning the raid would be conducted. She did what she had to do and she left with her family. They went into the forest. Another Jewish woman told me that the Germans came to her house by the window. They started to eat in their kitchen. The family hid in the house: her husband hid behind one door, her sister behind another, she hid behind the third door. They didn’t have children. The Germans were going to go out while the Jews heard they said: “This house is empty. They had to be gone.” Once they went out, the family stayed calm the whole day and at night they went to the forest. But the majority of Jews were shot”. (Testimony n°905, interviewed in Kusevshchina, on May 21, 2016)

German archives

« On Saturday, the day of Sukkot of 1941, 48 Jews were shot. From this moment, the Jews were shot without any reason. The shooting of 48 Jews took place in a swampy forest of Sakovik. It was conducted by Gestapo. Women and children were also killed. The rest of Jewish population was shot at the same place during the Aktion at the day of Yom Kippur (9 October)”. [Excerpt of the testimony of a Jewish survivor; B162-1295 p.35.]

Historical note

Naroch is located about 150 km north from Minsk on the bank of the Naroch Lake. In 1847 there were 140 Jews in Naroch but by the end of the 19th century the Jewish population increased and numbered at 591 Jews. The majority of Jews lived off of small trade. There were many artisans as well among them, such as tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and tinsmiths. At the beginning of the 20th the century the Jews from Naroch suffered from pogroms conducted by Soviet, as a result, a big part of Jews left the village or immigrated. Jewish children went to Polish school; however, there was also a Jewish school in Naroch. There was a  synagogue,located on Postavskaya street, and a bathhouse. During the Soviet period, the synagogue was forbidden and the Jewish school was closed. There were about 350 Jews in Naroch on the eve of the war. The Germans occupied the village at the end of June 1941. Before the Germans ‘arrival 5% of Jews, mostly young men, succeeded in escaping.  

Holocaust by bullets in figures

From the first days of the occupation Jews were forced to wear yellow distinguishing signs in the form of the Star of David. It was forbidden to leave their homes in the evening. All Jews, including children, fit to work were subjected to forced labor.

The first shootings were conducted shortly after the Germans arrival in July 1941 when 4 Jews, accused of being communists were shot.  According to the German archives, another 48 Jews accused of supporting Soviet Union were shot in a swampy forest of Sakovik on July 28, 1941. Their corpses were reburied in the Jewish cemetery.

Officially, there was no ghetto in Naroch. However, all Jews were forced to live in a few houses close one to another. The number of Jews increased by that time due to arrival of some Jewish refugees from Lithuania.

On October 5–6th in 1941, German soldiers, assisted by local collaborators, rounded up more than 100 Jews. Before being shot some of them had to dig the pit.  Up to 150 Jews were shot altogether. There were children and women among the victims. In spring of 1942, a part of Jews was sent to Novy Myadel to work for Gestapo.  In summer of 1942 the escapees from the nearing villages were sheltered by the Jews from Kobylnik. When the Germans knew about that they gathered all Jews who were concerned and shot them along with their families.

Another big Aktion was conducted on September, 20, 1942 by German Security police who arrived from Vileyka for this purpose. This day, all Jews were gathered in a building close to the church for one night and then, the next day, on Sunday, they were marched to the execution site. According to the local witness who was at the church at that time and saw the column passing by, there were about 120 Jews escorted by ten armed Germans from both sides The victims were shot in the field near the Catholic cemetery; the pit was dug in advance by Jews themselves. It happened around midday. The victims were shot standing; there were 51 children among them. About six local men had covered the pit.. The day of shooting, about 50 special workers native from Kobylnik with their families were moved to the ghetto in Novy Myadel.  Only some Jews from Naroch managed to escape to the forest and joined the partisans. 

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