Molodechno (Maladzyechna) | Minsk

Nikolai B., born in 1935: “They didn’t trade anymore. The only shop open was German. Money was Soviet. There were German Deutschmarks and Soviet roubles.” ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Tamara P., born in 1931, saw a column of Jews being taken to the shooting site by truck. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Zinaida K., born in 1926: “The Jews were too weak to escape. Then, one day, most probably in summer or autumn, many soldiers arrived in Molodechno. They surrounded the ghetto and started to gather everyone at the central square.” ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – I The Yahad team during an interview. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum The former synagogue building. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum The place where Nikolai B. saw a pile of clothes and Jewish belongings left  behind as they were being taken to the execution site. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum The execution site outside of Molodechno where circa. 1,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the war. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Stalag 342, a Soviet POW and non-Jewish civilian camp. During its existence 25,000 people died here. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum Stalag 342, a Soviet POW and non-Jewish civilian camp. During its existence 25,000 people died here. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum The memorial at the reburial site. ©Jordi Lagoutte/Yahad – In Unum

Execution of Jews, partisans and POWs in Molodechno

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Sand quarry
Memorials:
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims:
Circa 1,000

Witness interview

Zinaida K., born in 1926: “The ghetto was set up on one street. We used to steal bread from home and go to the ghetto to give them some food. They stayed there for a while. From time to time they would leave the ghetto to go to work. I remember seeing many women being taken to work. I guess children would stay inside the ghetto.
YIU: Where they guarded while being taken to work?
W: They were, but there weren’t many guards. The Jews were too weak to escape. Then, one day, most probably in summer or autumn, many soldiers arrived in Molodechno. They surrounded the ghetto and started to gather everyone at the central square. A special unit arrived for this purpose. I hadn’t seen them before here. They had metal planks on their chests, and long coats. Once gathered at the square, the Germans forced the Jews inside the trucks. It seemed to me they were in a hurry and wanted to do it as fast as possible.” (Witness n°1007B, interviewed in Molodechno, on September 28, 2018)

Soviet archives

"After the Germans arrived in the town of Molodechno, around July 10, 1941, the German authorities rounded up about 500 people of Belarusian and Jewish nationality. There were more Belarusians than Jews, because by that time the Jews had left the city and dispersed around the surrounding villages. All these people were gathered at the Freedom Square ["Svoboda"], then they were shot in a courtyard and buried on the spot in a pit. After the shooting, the civilians went there to look for their relatives in order to bury them in the cemetery. I personally dug up my [illegible] Nikolai and Andrei Sologub and buried them in the cemetery.
As far as I know, the second time the Germans gathered Jews at Freedom Square was at the very beginning of November 1941. There were mostly Jews, but also Belorusians, in all about 500 people. The Germans made them undress, took their [illegible] belongings, loaded them into trucks, transported them in the direction of Vileika, and then shot them 2 km from Molodechno.
The third time was around February 1942. The Germans took about 500 Jews from the Jewish camp [ghetto] located in Molodechno, transported them by truck about 10 km from Molodechno, to the village of Tsna, where they were shot in a house. Then, anyone who was not yet dead and anyone who were were burned in [following text is deleted].” [Deposition of Aleksandr K., born in 1873, residing in Molodechno, at 26 Sovetskaya street, given to the State Soviet Extraordinary Commission in April 1945; GARF : Fond 7021-89-9; p.108]

German archives

"The Aktion must have taken place in October 1941 (...). I was a witness to it. One morning, I had a service trip to the Kommandantur. I don’t remember the name of the driver. He reported to the chief of drivers, F*** V***, from Deux-Ponts. On the way we passed the marketplace, where there were already many Jews - men, women and children, with their luggage. I did not see the gathering itself. I saw that the Jews had to get rid of their luggage… it was thrown in a pile in a yard. I don’t know what happened to these belongings afterwards. I only saw that 10 to 12 trucks were parked in the marketplace. The Aktion was carried out by Lithuanian auxiliaries. They wore green uniforms. There must have been between 80 and 100 auxiliaries, armed with rifles, pistols and machine guns. There were about 1,000 Jews gathered at the market square. I don’t know if the round-up was over or if more people arrived afterwards. I had to do my duty, so I couldn’t stay and watch any longer. I did not see any German policemen, Wehrmacht soldiers or SD men in the marketplace. That same day, after lunch, I heard from the members of my unit stationed at the exit of Molodechno that Jews were being shot in the afternoon on the edge of town. It could only be the Jews gathered in the marketplace. Out of curiosity, I went alone to the place where the Jews were unloaded. It was a sand dune, 1 km outside the town. There I found two of my unit mates: V*** and K***. They were standing on a sandy embankment, 50-80m from the shooting site. I did not join them. I went to another place about 50 meters from the pits. From what I remember, there were 3 pits, one next to the other. They must have measured 5x25m. The front and back walls dipped; I would say that the deepest place was 3m. The Jews were in front of the pit, in an open area 50m from the front wall. They had to undress… most of them only had a shirt or boxers on after that. I did not see anyone completely naked. I did not see any violence. The Lithuanian auxiliaries were the only ones who guarded and encircled the place. There must have been between 80 and 100 of them here as well. The Jews were still saying their prayers when they had to walk into the pit. When the first group of Jews, about 200-300 people - men, women, children, was driven into the first pit, two machine guns were placed on the front wall and salvos were fired into the pit - they were Lithuanian gunners, commanded by an officer. I suppose he was also Lithuanian. In any case, I did not recognize any German SD men among them. The shooting went on for 20 minutes. (...)" [Statement of Anton Sch***, born in 1902 in Mötsch, given in Bitburg, on April 4, 1961, German soldier attached to Stalag 342; B162-1294 p.101]

Historical note

Molodechno is a city located 70 km (43 mi) northwest of Minsk. Between the two wars it was part of Poland, but in 1939 was taken over by the Soviets. The first record of the Jewish community dates back to the early 18th century. In 1847, according to the census, 241 Jews lived here, and by 1897 the community grew up to 1,105 Jews, making up 46% of the total population. The community had its synagogue built in 1906. The majority of Jews lived off trade and crafts. In 1925, 950 Jews remained in Molodechno. In 1939, several refugees arrived from Poland, increasing the number of the Jewish community to around 1,000 individuals.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Molodechno was occupied by German troops on June 26, 1941. The first Aktion was carried out two weeks later, on July 13, 1941, against 11 communists, including 7 Jews. The shooting was conducted by a Sonderkommando 7a. On July 18, 1941, another shooing was carried out by Einsatzkommando 9. On this day, about 100 Jews were rounded up, registered and taken to be shot in a pit dug in a field. The third Aktion was conducted on October 25, 1941, with mainly men being killed. According to the available historical sources, it was the Wehrmacht who carried out this Aktion. Shortly after a ghetto was created. It was mainly inhabited by women, children and elderly people. In late spring or early summer 1942, some Jews able to work were transferred to a work camp in Krasnoye. The ghetto was liquidated in June 1942 by an SD unit from Vileika with the help of local auxiliary police. Some 700 Jews were killed. They were first gathered at the central square, before being taken to be killed outside of the city. After the ghetto liquidation, a labor camp continued to function. Several dozen Jewish craftsmen remained there until it was totally liquidated on July 17, 1943. There was also a camp for Soviet POWs and civilians, stalag 342, that existed until April 1943. During its existence, 25,000 out of 30,000 detained there died.

Nearby villages

To support the work of Yahad-in Unum please consider making a donation

Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?

Please contact us at contact@yahadinunum.org
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17