Radoshkovichi (Radoszkowicze, Radoshkovits, Radaškovičy) | Minsk

Local Jewish youth © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com The Hebrew Tarbut school in Radishkovichi © Taken from eilatgordinlevitan.com An abandoned Jewish cemetery in Radoshkovichi. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum The witness shows the Yahad team the place where she saw the pit with the bodies of the Jews killed on the ghetto streets. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Pavel M., born in 1925, hid several Jews in his house during the occupation. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Maria K., born 1924: “Once in autumn on my way back from work I ran into many carts transporting the dead male and female bodies. ” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum in Radoshkovichi. It is a small clearing between houses, next to the road. The inscription reads “Let us never forget the 860 Jews brutally murdered by the German butchers on March 11, 1942, in Radoshkovichi.” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Radoshkovichi

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Field
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
1,200

Witness interview

Mariia K., born in 1924: “Some Jews from Poland fled to our town. They came to our house asking for shelter. We accepted four Jews: two girls and two boys, to stay with us. They were very good children. Back then we had a big house so we divided it into two parts: we lived in one half and they in another. But we lived as one family, we shared food with them. They were not used to work in the field but every time the boys asked my father to take them with him. They tried to help him in any way they could. The girls were tailors, they sewed clothes for the villagers. They stayed with us for a long time. But then our neighbor started to threaten that he would denounce us to the Germans. The children asked my father what they should do but he answered that they could only wait and see what would happen.” (Witness n°944, recorded in Sychevichi on August 7, 2017)

Soviet archives

“On March 11, 1942 an SD punitive detachment arrived to Radoshkovichi. They rounded up all the local Jews and locked them up in a barn. Then they shot all Jews, threw grenades into the barn and burnt it” [Act drawn up by the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK) after the liberation; RG 22.002M: 7021-83-14]

German archives

“[...] L. ordered me to provide six to eight men at his disposal. Their task was to keep the local population away from the shooting site and to ensure that the Jews could not escape. [...] In the meantime, the SD had driven all the Jews out of their homes and gathered them in front of our guard’s building. [...] I must add that a military doctor stayed with us and told us we had a good Jewish doctor. He told me that I had to do everything to keep this doctor alive, to use weapons if necessary. I pointed out to him that the SD was there and that I could not do anything. He decided to speak with the Generalkommissar K. Faced with this situation, I mentioned the Jewish doctor to the head of the SD. The latter ordered me to bring Dr. Schuster and his family to the guardroom, which I did immediately. It was the doctor, his wife, two children and his mother. All remained in the room and were not shot. [...] Other Jews were then taken from our building to the execution site. It was at the exit of the city, about 800 m, on a raised area. [...] I saw K. taking pictures. [...] When the Jews arrived at the execution site, we had the right to choose 100 Jews whom we needed to work for us and for the Todt Organization. It was only supposed to be specialists and their families. [...] There were two barns on the site. The 100 Jewish specialists were brought into one of the barns. The others had to go to a pit. [...] The head of the SD went to the barn and took out the excess Jews. He forced out the rabbi who was also a hairdresser. The SD chief also killed a Jew by shooting him with a 6.35mm pistol in the heart because he had come too close to him and addressed him in Yiddish. There were 600 people, men, women and children, in the pit. [...] Some Jews had to pile the corpses in the barn and cover them with gasoline. [...] At the end of the execution, the barn was locked and set on fire.” [Deposition of Johannes S., a German policeman in the Todt Organization, born in 1913, drawn up in Solingen, on July 3, 1961; B162-1294]

Historical note

Radoshkovichi is located 35 km north-west of Minsk. The first records about the local Jewish community date back to the 16th century. According to the census of 1897 the Jews numbered 1,519 people, comprising almost 60 % of the total population. They lived off small-scale trade, handicrafts and the export of wood and cereals. Between the two wars the village was under Polish rule. At that time a brewery, a brick factory, flour mills and small tanneries operated in the town. In 1925 the Jewish population had decreased to 1,215 people. Back then a Tarbut school and a Hebrew library were opened in Radoshkovichi. There were four synagogues and a Jewish cemetery in the town. In 1920s-1930s branches of various Jewish parties and organizations operated in Radoshkovichi. In 1939 the village was taken over by the Soviet Union and several parties and organizations were banned. On the eve of the war about 1,200 Jews lived in the town.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

German forces occupied the town on June 25, 1941. Soon after occupation all the Jewish population was marked with distinguishing badges and subjected to forced labor, but the Jews continued to live in their houses. The ghetto was created only in spring 1942, after the first Aktion conducted on March 11, 1942. On this date about 1,200 Jews  were rounded up at the market square, those who tried to resist were shot on the spot. Afterwards all the Jews were put into columns and taken 1 km out of the town to two barns. At the execution site the victims had to give up all their valuables and were later shot in the barns. Then the Germans threw grenades into the barn and burnt it. During this Aktion only 860 Jews were killed while about 250-300 Jews, mostly specialists and their families were spared and confined to the ghetto surrounded with barbed wire. The ghetto was liquidated almost one year later on March 7, 1943. During this Aktion between 250-290 Jews were shot. Dozens managed to escape and joined the partisans.

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