History of the Jews in Belarus


History of the Jews in Belarus

Prior to World War II, Jews were the third largest ethnic group in Belarus, and comprised more than 40% of the population in cities and towns. Most ethnic Belarusians lived in rural areas. The population of cities such as Minsk, Pinsk, Mogilev, Bobruisk, Vitebsk, and Gomel was more than 50% Jewish. There were 724,548 Jews in Belarus in 1897 - which was 13.6% of the total population. Some 800,000 Jews – 90% of the Jewish population – were killed in Belarus during the Holocaust. As of 2005, there were some 55,000 Jews in Belarus. Marc Chagall and Mendele Mocher Sforim; Chaim Weizmann and Menachem Begin were born in Belarus.

Pale of Settlement

The Pale of Settlement was a western border region of Imperial Russia in which the permanent residence of Jews was allowed. Though comprising only 20% of the territory of European Russia, the Pale corresponded to the historical borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and included much of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine, and parts of western Russia.

World War II

Atrocities against the Jewish population in the German-conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of "Einsatzgruppen" (task groups) to round up Jews and shoot them. Local anti-semites were encouraged to carry out their own pogroms. By the end of 1941, there were more than 50,000 troops devoted to rounding up and killing Jews. The gradual industrialization of killing led to adoption of the Final Solution and the establishment of the Operation Reinhard extermination camps: the machinery of the Holocaust. In three years of occupation, between one and two million Soviet Jews were killed. Other ethnic groups were targeted for extermination, including the Roma and Sinti; see Porajmos.

See also

*Lithuanian Jews
*Belarusian Central Rada
*Belarusian resistance movement
*History of the Jews during World War II
*Kresy
*Łachwa Ghetto
*Maly Trostenets extermination camp
*Occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany
*Reichskommissariat Ostland
*Jewish history (Russia and the Soviet Union)

External links

* [http://www.covenant.idc.ac.il/en/vol1/issue2/simon-schaler.html Antisemitism in Twenty-First Century Europe]
* [http://www.jhrgbelarus.org/AboutBelarus_JewishHistory.php Belarus Jewish History]
* [http://www.jhrgbelarus.org/AboutBelarus_articles.php Do you know this?]
* [http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/newsletter/AltmanReview.htm Holocaust of the Soviet Jewry]
* [http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/newsletter/DemographicProfile.htm A Demographic Profile of the Jews in Belorussia, 1939-1959]
* [http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/ Shtetlinks]
* [http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/country/Belarus Chabad-Lubavitch Centers in Belarus]


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