Berezino | Minsk

/ The center of Berezino © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad-In Unum The remaining gravestone of the former Jewish cemetery © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad-In Unum A ghetto was established here in the summer of 1941, Berezino. © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Nina Zh., born in 1933: “The Jews were taken to a house close to the pit, where they were forced to undress. Then, escorted by the police, they walked in their underwear towards the pit.”.   © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum Kazimir V., born in 1923, saw the column of Jews taken to the shooting in the direction of the village of Pohost. © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad-In Unum During the interview © Aleksey Kasyanov/Yahad-In Unum The execution site of 940 Jews in Berezino © Aleksey Kasyanov/ Yahad-In Unum The diagram of the execution site taken from the Soviet Extraordinary commission. © Taken from Yad Vashem website

Executions of Jews in Berezino

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Meadow
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
940

Witness interview

Kazimir V., born in 1923: “The whole town was burned down at the beginning of the war during the bombings. The Germans established a military Kommandantur. It was located in the current army recruitment office. The burgomaster was appointed. I don’t know what he did before the war. They also set up a police unit with volunteers. Their power slowly increased. They then put up posters all over town, which stated that all partisans and Jews were to be put to death.” (Testimony n° 675, interviewed in Berezino, on July 14, 2013).

Soviet archives

“We the undersigned the members of the commission […] opened the mass grave located in the town of Berezino, 150m from Internatsionalnaya Street. It was established that the pit was dug at the end of 1941. It measured 22m in length, 15m wide and 2m deep. 1,000 Soviet civilians were buried there”. [Act drawn up in November 1944 by the State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. 7021-87-2]

German archives

“Around January 1942 the Jews from the surrounding area of Berezino were confined to one street, not far away from the headquarters. The street was surrounded by barbed wire. This area, composed of several houses fenced in with barbed wire where the Jews resided, was later transformed into a camp. The Jews went in and out of the camp to go to work for the military administration. The women were employed in the kitchen or did other types of work, such as transporting logs and sweeping snow from the streets. The men and children were subject to work as well. I don’t know if the inmates were given food inside the camp, but we gave some food to women who worked at our battalion’s base.” [Deposition of a soldier of the battalion 452, Josef C., given on April 20, 1964; B162-3287 p.43]

Historical note

Berezino is located about 100km east of Minsk. The first records of the Jewish population date back to the 17th century. Throughout history, the Jews suffered from different waves of pogroms (in 1649 and in 1920). In 1847, the community numbered 1,289 and by 1897 it increased to 3,377, around 70% of the total population of the town. The majority of Jews lived off small scale trading and artisan manufacturing. There were several artisan cooperatives and a kolkhoz. According to the census, on the eve of the war, 1,536 Jews lived in the town. The Germans occupied the town on July 3rd 1941. A small number of Jews managed to flee before the occupation.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Shortly after the Germans arrived, all Jews were registered and marked with yellow badges. They were force to carry out different types of labor. The ghetto was set up in the late summer or early fall on the Internatsionalnaya street. It was fenced in with barbed wire, and it was forbidden to leave its territory. The first execution was conducted in August-September on 150 Jews who were shot by German security police as a warning to any possible resistance.  The ghetto was liquidated on January 31st or February 1st 1942. As the ground was frozen, the Germans used grenades to makes pits. 940 (962 according to Martin Dean) Jews were shot by Einsatzkommando 8, assisted by German Security police, the SD, and local police. Before being killed, the Jews were taken to two huts located close to the site where they were forced to undress. They were the taken in small groups towards the pit where they were shot by two SS soldiers, who took turns to shoot. The babies were most likely thrown into the pit alive. The executions in Berezino were not the only ones in the district. About 200-250 Jews from Berezino were moved to Pohost where they were shot in early 1942.

For more information about the execution of Jews in Novosyolki, please, refer to the corresponding profile.  

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