MINSK: 1941-1942

German forces occupied Minsk, capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialsit Republic (SSR) in the Soviet Union, shortly after beginning the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. During the German occupation, the Belorussian SSR became part of the Reich Commissariat Ostland (Reichskommissariat Ostland). Within this German civilian administration, Minsk became a district capital. Wilhelm Kube, the German general commissioner of Belorussia, governed from Minsk.

In late July 1941, the Germans ordered the establishment of a ghetto in a small section of the northwestern part of Minsk. About 80,000 people, including Jews from nearby towns, were crowded into the Minsk ghetto.

Between November 1941 and October 1942, over 20,000 Jews from Germany and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were deported to Minsk. Many were killed upon arrival in Maly Trostinets, a small village about eight miles to the east. Others were housed in a separate ghetto in Minsk that segregated German Jews from local Belorussian Jews. Little contact was permitted between residents of the two ghettos.

Jews were forced to work on labor projects in factories inside the ghetto. They were also used for forced labor outside the ghetto, especially in the shiroka Street labor camp and the opera house (where Jewish private property was sorted and stored).

Detachments of the Einsatzgruppen began massacres in Minsk in July 1941, even before the establishment of the ghetto. Shootings of Jews occurred almost daily. By January 1942, Einsatzgruppen reports indicated that only 25,000 Jews remained in the ghetto. The rest had been killed by members of the Einsatzgruppen and by Lithuanian police auxiliaries. In July 1942, the Einsatzgruppen killed more than 10,000 Jews from both ghettos. Several thousand Jews were killed in Koidanovo, a small town southwest of Minsk. Thousands more were killed in Tuchinka, and many died inside the ghetto. Both the Shiroka Street camp and Jubilee Square in the ghetto were assembly
points for Jews rounded up by the Germans for immediate execution.

In August 1941, an anti-German underground was established in the Minsk ghetto. Members of the underground organized escapes from the ghetto and formed partisan units in the forests to the southeast and northwest of Minsk. Jews from Minsk established seven different partisan units. In all, about 10,000 Jews fled to the forests; most of them were killed during the war.

The Minsk ghetto was destroyed by the Germans in the fall of 1943. Some Jews were deported to the Sobibor extermination camp. About 4,000 Jews were killed at Maly Trostinets.

Text Credit
The text on this page is reproduced with the permission of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, from the
Historical Atlas of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing USA and Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1996).

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