2 Execution site(s)
Yulia L., born in 1932: "On my way to school I passed in front of the ghetto. I saw many people reaching through the fence that surrounded the ghetto. The fence was taller than a man. People were asking for something to eat, but it was risky to give them something.” (Witness N°739 interviewed in April, 2014)
“We anticipated that an Aktion was going to be conducted in the ghetto because the workshops were hermetically sealed. We went out and we had to line up in rows. Meanwhile, the Germans entered the workshops and inspected them, looking for hidden children. I saw them taking out approximately 10 children and throwing them in a truck by their hands or feet, like pieces of wood. The blood flowed in streams from the heads of the children.” [Deposition of Mordechaj M., Jewish survivor, December 1960, BALAR-Z94/59Vol.II-B162-3409]
Novogrudok, once the medieval capital of Lithuania, is located 120km west of Minsk. Of a prewar population of nearly 13,000, half were Jewish. It was home to Novardok Yeshiva, an internationally recognized and respected Talmudic school. The majority of Jews were artisans or in small trade. German forces occupied the village at the end of June 1941.
Prior to the Germans’ arrival, the city center, mainly inhabited by Jews, was heavily bombed and destroyed. Many Jews were killed and houses were destroyed. During the occupation, the city was the seat of a Gebietskommissar, directly in charge of the Jews’ fate. The Germans forced Jewish men to clear rubble from the streets. On July 26, 1941, after a selection at the market square, 50 men were shot on the spot. Their corpses were buried in the Jewish cemetery. In December 1941, a fenced ghetto was established in the Peresieka quarter, made up of about 28 houses. On December 8, 1941, after a selection, more than 5,000 Jews were shot in pits dug in advance near the Skrydlevo quarter. According to a witness interviewed by Yahad, the location was guarded by local policemen for several days following the shootings.
Every day, several hundred Jews were taken out of the ghetto to work in different places as craftsmen. Thus, in the former courthouse, a kind of forced labor camp was created, fenced in and guarded by local police. In the spring of 1942, Jews from neighboring locations such as Liubcha and Koreliche were taken to the Novogrudok ghetto. At this time, there were more than 6,500 Jews interned there. On August 7, 1942, most of the remaining Jews of the ghetto were killed in pits near the village of Slukhovichi. Another extermination took place on February 4, 1943 at the same location.
The remaining Jews were kept in the camp that had previously been a courthouse until May 7, 1943, when 400 of them where shot in an Aktion that took place just near the camp. The last 250 Jews were able to flee during a famous escape, during which they built and fled through a tunnel. Many of them joined the Jewish Bielskiy partisans in the nearby Naliboki Forest.
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