Glubokoye (Hlybokaye, Glebokie, Glubokoje, Glubok) | Vitebsk

The synagogue. © Jewish blacksmiths at work in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish children making boxes in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish men making signs in a workshop in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish men at work producing wooden shoes in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish women at work producing slippers in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish men working in a sewing workshop in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish women working in the laundry in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz Jewish men at work in a shoemaking workshop in the Glubokoye ghetto. ©United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz The Glubokie gymnasium in 1935. © Rachel Fidelholtz with daughter Dina. Her parents perished in Glubokoye in 1943. She survived, working as a nurse for the partisans. Her baby daughter was hidden by the non-Jewish Lachovitz family. ©From personal archives of Gila Neiman, Dina’s daughter Chain Chana Fidelholtz with his daughter, Dina. Chain Chana Fidelholtz was killed in Glubokoye in 1943. Dina survived the war, working as a a nurse for the partisans. ©From personal archives of Gila Neiman, Dina’s daughter Pesia Norman (Katz) was born in Sloboda in 1905 to Yehuda and Braina (Braina survived and came to Israel). She was a seamstress and married to Zerakh. Pesia perished with her husband in Glubokoye. ©Taken from Shifra Kil was born in Dolhinow in 1922 to Zerakh Norman and Peshe nee Katz (they also died). Shifra was killed  in Glubokoye in 1943 along with her husband Barukh. © / Stepan K., born in 1932, saw the column of Jews being marched to the execution site near the lake. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Irina Sh., born in 1938, explained how her parents hid a Jewish boy in their barn. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Nadezhda O., born in 1928: “The guards checked to see if there was any sand in the houses in the ghetto. Sand meant that the Jews were digging tunnels to escape”. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Maria P., born in 1926, remembered how the Jews tried to escape from the shooting in Glubokoye. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum The Yahad team during a witness interview in Glubokoye. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Gendrikh K., born in 1928: “The Jewish family was taken away by the Germans. The father was shot and his son was wounded. I don’t know where they were taken”. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Tatyana K., born in 1930: “I recognized the scarf of one of the Jewish women who had been killed being worn by the policeman’s wife”. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Yanina Kh., born in 1927: “The Jews in the column were paralyzed by fear, they didn’t even try to escape."  ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Olga B, born in 1919, saw the pit after the shooting. The ground was moving. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Natalia S., born in 1932, remembered the execution site after the shooting of Jews in Glubokoye. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Ivan P, born in 1922, remembered how the Jews were marked with a Star of David during the German occupation. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum Yanina Kh. showed the Yahad team the execution site of Jews in Glubokoye. ©Guillaume Ribot/Yahad - In Unum /

Execution of Jews in Glubokoye

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 7,000

Witness interview

Irina B., born in 1938: “Once the Jews had been shot, one wounded Jewish boy came to our house. My father took him home. He dug a small pit in our barn and he stayed hiding in there. I was 10 or 12 years old at the time, but I still remember when I woke up in the morning that my mother was going to bring him food and water. Later, I saw a doctor coming over. He was a good friend of our family. He must have come to check the boy’s wound. After the war, my father told me that it was a Jewish boy and that he hid at our house for several days. But when it became too dangerous for him to stay, he was taken to the forest where he joined the partisans. He survived the war and came back to the village to say thank you to my father after the war. His name is Zelya. After that he immigrated to Israel. ” (Testimony n°82, interviewed in Glubokaya, on July 22, 2008)

Soviet archives

“All the remaining Jews were told that they were not in danger anymore and that they could come back and stay in the ghetto in Glubokoye. The Germans declared that they would keep them safe. Of course, we suspected that we were going to meet the same fate. We were detained in the ghetto for eleven months. There were 3,500 inmates. When we were in Glubokoye, as had happened in Sharkovshchina, the Germans stole our valuables and our belongings. We gave them everything we had. But we still had a faint hope that we would be spared. In July or in August, 1943, the head of mobile squad V. organized a pogrom in the ghetto of Glubokoye. There, they murdered almost everyone. According to some sources, only 120 Jews out of 3500 survived, including me. The ghetto was surrounded by Germans with submachine guns. The shooting started. A flammable liquid was dumped from a plane. Over 1000 Jews were burned. The Jewish escapees and I joined the partisans and led the fight against the German invaders. [Interrogation report made on April 4, 1945, by the State Extraordinary Commission. RG 20.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 92, Delo 212]

Historical note

Glubokoye is located 180km west from Vitebsk and 146km north from Minsk. The Jewish community of the town dates back to the 18th century when it numbered 755 individuals. In the late 19th century, six synagogues were built in the town and the Jewish population increased to 3,917 residents (70% of total population). At the beginning of the 20th century, there were two private Jewish academies. The Jewish population suffered from pogroms in 1915 carried out by the Russian Army. There was also one commercial academy in the town, a Jewish newspaper, library, hospital, and even a football team. The majority of Jews lived off the lumber trade, farm products as well as handcrafts. On the eve of the war, circa. 5,500 Jews in the town according to the census. The town was occupied by the Germans on July 2, 1941. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The first shooting took place immediately after the Germans’ arrival. In the first days of the occupation, several Jews that were accused of being communists were shot. Shortly after, the Judenrat (Jewish Council) was established. From this time the Jews were forced to perform forced labor. During the labor, the Jews were guarded by Germans and local policemen who abused and humiliated them. On October 22, 1941, a ghetto was created in Glubokoye where all the local Jews were confined along with the Jews who lived in nearing areas such as Sharkovschchina, Postavy and Plisa. The ghetto was composed of a couple of streets and numbered circa. 5,800 inmates. Several families were forced to share a single room. Its territory was surrounded by barbed wire and a wooden fence. The Jews could only leave the ghetto during work hours and they were always escorted by Germans.

On March 25, 1942, the shooting of 105-110 Jews was conducted by the local police. After that the ghetto was reduced in size. During this period, circa. 800 Jews were taken to the ghetto from nearby villages. Another shooting took place in May 1942 and was conducted by the German Security police who had come to the town for this specific task. Circa. 20 Jews were killed.

From June 18 to 19, 1942, during the first liquidation wave of the ghetto, circa. 2,500 Jews not deemed fit to work were taken to the Borek forest, located about 1km away, and shot over the course of two days. After this Aktion, only 2,200 Jews remained in the ghetto. According to the archives, one hundred more arrived shortly after from hiding, they had been promised that their lives would be spared.

In the autumn of 1942, a resistance group was organized in the ghetto with the help of partisans who were preparing an action against the Germans. During the attack organized by the partisans on August 17, 1943, over 70 Germans and collaborators were killed. Fearing future attacks, on August 19, 1943, the Germans began the liquidation of the ghetto by setting the houses on fire and killing anyone who attempted to escape. Only one hundred Jews from the ghetto survived the Holocaust. 

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