Vileyka (Wilejka, Vileika) | Minsk

Members of Hashomer Haleumi, Vielyka 1930. The seven immigrated to Israel and maintained close ties. © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Zipora and her brother Gershon Kaliko with their cousin Feigel Sobol (on the left) in Vileyka in 1937.  Only Gershon survived the holocaust. © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html The Lapidot family in 1932  Shmuel and Sosia (nee Kopelovitz)  Avraham, Nachum,Hedva© Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Vileykas’ first nursery school class with their teacher, Chana Shir- 1924© Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Zvi-Hirschel Kaliko, Tzipora-Feigel Kaliko and Gershon Kaliko at the entrance to their home in Vileyka on May 10, 1936. © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Herzelia school in Vileyka; children, teachers and public figures. 1925. © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Members of the Vileyka orchestra- 1930  The three Ruderman brothers in the orchestra are: top row, first on the left is Osher Ruderman; second row, first on the right is Grisha Ruderman; first row Ellia Ruderman.©Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka 1932, Vileyka Zionist parade for keren Kayemet L’Israel by the Kaidanov Chassid’s synagogue© Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html The first district - wide congress of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) in Vileyka. Photographed in 1934. © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com/vileyka/vileyka.html Today the prison building is an oncological dispensary. During the Germans’ occupation the prison was the execution place of Jews in Vileyka. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Grigoriy Ch., born in 1928,   knew one family that was burned. Later on, dead bodies were brought by trucks to the same place and burned.   © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Inside witness’ house © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Valentina V., born in 1929,   saw scenes of beating and humiliation there. The Germans and policemen sent the Jews to dig a quarry just next to the camp. Jews were not given spades and had to work with their bare hands.   © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Grigoriy Ch., born in 1928,   knew one family that was burned. Later on, dead bodies were brought by trucks to the same place and burned.   © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum Execution site outside close to the village of Porsa, north-west of Vileyka. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum The place where the Jews corpses were burned.© Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum The execution place of Jews in Vileyka. Today it is a forest just next to the former Stavki village, the same as it was before. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum The place where the corpses of Jews from Vileyka were reburied. © Jethro Massey-Yahad-In Unum

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Execution of Jews and non-Jews in Vileyka

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Forest
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
Over 1,500

Witness interview

Nina B., born in 1926, remembered: “Jews were brought in groups of five, ten or twenty people to the shooting place on the hill near the diary and Jewish cemetery. I saw several columns who were marched and escorted by policemen, while the Germans in green uniforms were taking photographs at the spot
There was a long ditch; Jews were shot there and then burned. That lasted for two months, in summer-autumn of 1942. After the shooting, I heard Germans saying several times: “Juden Kaput.”. (Testimony n°914, interviewed in Vileyka on June 26, 2016)

Soviet archives

“The execution of Belorussian, Russian and Jewish population took place on July 13, 1941.
On July 10 of 1941, at 2 p.m., all men of Vileyka received an order to come at the Jewish school located on the 17th September Street, close to the river. At this time, there were no mass shooting and no one suspected anything. The men came with shovels as they were asked. Once gathered, the men were lined up in the column, by eight in a row. They were announced that they would be taken to dig the anti-tank ditches around the town. The men marched calmly. They were taken in the direction of the Stavki village. As the stationary bridge was burned by Soviets at the moment of the withdrawal of the troops, the column passed by a small temporary bridge constructed a little further, 300 meters away from. At this moment, I was in my yard. When we saw the column, together with other villagers such as Aleksandr S., Yevgenia P., we came closer. But when Y., who guarded the column along with ten Germans, saw us, he chased us away. We stepped back but we could still see the column when it turned in the direction of the field. There were 5 pits in the field dug in advance and 4 machine guns which had been hidden. Once on the site, the guards took a certain number of rows and line up the men at the edge of the pit. I saw Y. lying down behind the machine gun. When the victims saw that, they rushed in different direction attempting to escape in the forest, but they were shot dead on the spot with machine gun. Then, the Germans and Y. dragged the corpses from the forest and thrown them into the pits. When Germans saw me, they chased me away. At 7 p.m. I saw Germans coming back to the town. By 9 p.m. I returned to the site, but the pits had been already filled in with sand”. [Deposition of a local witness Nina A., taken by State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 83, Delo 3]

German archives

"The first Aktion took place in Vileyka on February 1942. (…) With other men of my unit, I received the order to take the Jews out from the ghetto. They were gathered on the open ground and killed with a gun into the nape of the neck. (…). There were women, men and children (…). After the shooting, gasoline was poured on the corpses and they were burned. The Jews were dressed, no one among them was undressed. After this Aktion, few Jewish artisans remained in Vileyka. All Jewish valuables were taken from their homes and stocked at the attic”. [Deposition of Georg H., taken on February 16, 1962 during the trial; B162-1294, B162-1295.]

Historical note

Vileyka is located 100 km northwest of Minsk on the right bank of the Viliya River. In 1897 there were 1,328 Jews lived in the town. The majority of Jews lived of small trade. There was a Jewish elementary Tarbut school. After, all Jews went to the secondary school along with no-Jews. In the course of the history there were three synagogues, but they were destroyed in different periods of time. A couple of movements, for isntance Zionist movement, and organizations operated in Vileyka but they were forbidden under the Soviet rule. Due to the immigration the Jews population decreased and numbered about 1,000 Jews on the eve of the war. Vilyeka was occupied by German forces on June 26, 1941. About 10% of prewar Jewish population managed to escape by that time. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The execution started immediately after the German invasion. Thus, the first anti-Jewish Aktion was conducted on July 12, 1941. This day all men aged from 15 to 60 years old were confined into a synagogue building. They were ordered to bring all their valuables under the threat of being killed. Once they came back, the specialists were selected and sent home while others, 140 Jews and 10-13 Byelorussians, were marched 2km away from the town to the village of Stavki, where they were shot. The Aktion was conducted by Sondercommando 7a helped by local police. According to different sources there were from 140 to 300 people.

On July 30, 1941, about 400 Jews were driven to the Porsa village and shot there by Sondercommando 9.  Meanwhile all Jews were marked with Star of David and they were forbidden from walking on the sidewalks and visiting public places. By December 1941, three separate ghettos and labor camps were established in Vileyka and numbered not only local Jews but also those brought from the nearing villages, like Kurenets, Krivichi, Miadel. According to the historical sources and local residents, some of ghettos were fenced in. Apparently, there was a children’s ghetto which was fenced in but not guarded created in the early 1942.  All Jews fit to work were forced to perform hard physical work, like road construction, cleaning streets from the rubbles.

The next two executions where conducted in early February and March 1942. These executions were conducted by SD members. During the execution in March the Jews were shot and after their bodies were burned down to hide the traces of the crime.

 In August 1942 the main ghetto was reorganized and another small ghetto for only craftsmen was created. In September 1942, hundreds of artisans were brought to this ghetto from the nearby villages, including Shchuchin village. Some of Jews from the main ghetto were killed during the summer near the Lysaya Gora.

On November 7, 1942 the liquidation of the ghetto was conducted. All the Jews were taken to a manor of Lavrinovich and burned there alive.  About 300 Jews were killed that day, but there were still Jews in Vileyka who worked for Germans.  Many Jews managed to flee to the forest and joined partisans groups. The small executions continued until late June 1944, when the last workers and specialists were shot along with the non-Jewish detainees of the prison.  Among them were the workers brought from Molodechno in mid-July 1943.  

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