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BELARUS - THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

Belarus Cemetery Law was enacted in 2001 that applies to cemeteries of all faiths, including Jewish cemeteries. Some new addendums were added in 2007. Any cemetery unused for 25 years can be reclaimed for other purposes. Owning to the murder of entire Jewish communities by Germans and their Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian partners in the 1941-44 period, the bulk of Jewish cemeteries fell under this law during the years 1966-69. [March 2009]
According to the new cemetery law, all cemeteries can be redeveloped no earlier than in 50 years since the last burial was made and only can be  replaced by a park or something that does not require deep digging into a ground. Buildings can be built 100 years after the last burial. J This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (website of Jewish Heritage Research group: preservation of cemeteries and objects of Jewish heritage). Yuri Dorn [July 2010]

Links for Belarussian Jewry [March 2009]
MAPS of various Belarussian cities: 

Belarus SIG on JewishGen
Shtetls of Belarus links have more information for various towns listed in the Cemetery Project.

JewishGen's ShtetlSeeker references border changes to locate a given town. [February 2009]

Jewish Community information:

2010 UPDATE ON CONDITIONS IN BELARUS: Communists started to destroy Jewish cemeteries in eastern Belarus in the second half of the 1930s. One example is the former Minsk Jewish cemetery, which was replaced by a stadium "Dinamo" in 1937. During WII, Germans used tombstones from Jewish cemeteries to build roads, dams, and forts. Also German Nazi collaborators executed Jewish population in the Jewish cemetery sites. Today these mass graves are commemorated with Holocaust memorials (Minsk, Novogrudok, Volozhin, Radun, Braslav, and Dolginovo). After the war, most of the Belorussian Jewish cemeteries were closed to new burials. In some places, the local population reused Jewish tombstones for their non-Jewish relatives and to build houses. In 1960s, Soviets started to build on the old Jewish cemeteries and replaced them with stadiums, such as in Grodno, Gomel, Brest; apartment complexes such as in Slutzk, Voronovo, Lida, Lyakhovichy, and Pinsk. Since the end of the 1980s after the fall of the Soviet regime, Jewish cemeteries began to get more attention, mostly from descendants and from Jewish organizations. Some cemeteries were cleaned, tombstones reerected and cleaned, photographed and catalogued.  Belorussian Jewish organizations took responsibility to maintain some of the old Jewish cemeteries. Despite all the efforts, the majority of old Jewish cemeteries in Belarus are still abandoned. international Very few active Jewish cemeteries remain, some are in Bobruisk, Borisov, Mogilev, Vitebsk, and Orsha. One cemetery (with wooden tombstones and founded in 1568) is located in the village called Lenin. Some famous Rabbis are buried in Belorussian Jewish cemeteries, well known pilgrimage sites such as Borisov, Grodno, Radun, Volozhin, Slonim, and Mir. Source: Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus, 220002 Minsk, 13B Daumana St. tel/375-173-345612 and fax/375-173-343360.
[July 2010]

2002 UPDATE ON CONDITIONS IN BELARUS: Legislation effecting cemeteries that were inactive for twenty-five years (of all religious faiths) was promulgated under Soviet rule. More than just Jewish sites suffered. The murder of entire Jewish community in 1941-44 left Jewish cemeteries prey to this law in 1966-1969 but the central Minsk Dynamo Market sits atop the Russian Orthodox cemetery. Many religious buildings of all faiths were subject to Soviet "adaptive reuse." Also, during the 1991-1994 transitional period, some cemeteries were partially destroyed. Under the current government, supportive to the Jewish community, this practice ceased. Minsk has no Jewish cemetery, but development of the old cemetery property is prohibited by the Minsk city government. Bobruisk and Mogilev cemeteries are still active. Mogilev recently received additional cemetery space from the local authority. The East European Jewish Heritage Project ( ) negotiated with the Belarussian Committee for the Preservation of the Nation's Heritage to protect Belarus' Jewish cemeteries. To be protected, indexing and mapping of headstones must be done and a barrier (fence, wall, hedge) must be erected around the site to demarcate its boundaries. The current obstacle to preserving cemeteries is funding; however, these same poor economic conditions also prevent development. Nature and indifference are the main threats to Jewish cemeteries in Belarus. Small, unattended cemeteries become overgrown, as memorial markers topple, damaged by vegetation and weathering. Rural sites disappear under secondary forests. Today, few Jews throughout the world donate to the preservation or maintenance of these cemeteries. The largest international Jewish 'aid' organization participating in restoration in the past announced a 40% reduction in this year's aid. Jews are responsible for our own heritage throughout the world. Because the present Belarussian government now supports the Jewish community, preserving the physical remains of our heritage is imperative. The East European Jewish Heritage Project will assist. Contact Franklin J. Swartz, Executive Director, East European Jewish Heritage Project [March 2002] Franklin J. Swartz, Executive Director, East European Jewish Heritage Project, c/o Voluntas
P. O. Box 100, Minsk 220074, Republic of Belarus. Belarus Tel: +375 17 252 7314 Belarus Mob: +375 29 699 4016. Fax: +375 271 4736. London Tel: +44 20 7193 5474. Boston, MA Tel: +1 617 418 3202.


REFERENCE: History of Jews in Belorussia and Ukraine by Dymshytz, St-Petersburg, 1944. Almost all the cemeteries described are on hills, sometimes covered by woods. The most ancient ones were destroyed although some of them exist today on the original places. Many Jewish cemeteries are converted into Christians ones. Usually the stones are 1m-1.2-m high and 0.5-m width. The reverse side of the stone is not polished. The top of the stone is half-round and sometimes partially broken as an image of sorrow. The decor is very limited with sometimes a Star of David and sometimes blessing hands or menorah. The images are dated second half of the last century: in MIR-a bird, in SHARKOVCHINA-a lion, in DRUE and DISNA-a lion, a bird and floral ornamentation. Source: Irene Kudish.

[UPDATE]  Execution sites of Jewish victims [December 2014]

[UPDATE] Catalog of Jewish Cemeteries in Belarus (can be translated with Google Translate) [June 2015]

Title Filter     Display # 
# Burial Location
101 GROZOVO: Minsk
102 HALSANY (Golshany, Olshan): Grodno
103 HALYNKA: Golynka, Holinka, Holynka, Hołynka
104 HANCAVICY: Brest
105 HERMANISZKI: see Germanishki
106 HERMANOWICZE: see Germanishki
107 HLUSK: Minsk
108 HRODNO: Grodno
109 IGUMEN: see CHERVEN
110 ILYA: Vilna
111 INDURA (Amdur): Grodno
112 IVANAVA: Brest/Grodno
113 IVANIKI: see Pinsk
114 IVATSEVICHY: Grodno
115 IVENETS: Minsk [Iwieniec , Ivanitz, Ivianiec, Ivienic, Iwienjec, Ivjanec, Ivenits]
116 IVYE: [Iwye, Iwje, Ivia, Ivija, Iwia, Iwie, Ivie] (former Lida uezd)
117 IWIENJEC: Minsk, see Ivenets
118 IZABELIN:
119 JELAWDIK: see ZHELUDOK
120 KAMAI
121 KAMEN: Minsk
122 KAMENETS (Kamyanyets): Brest
123 KAMENKA: Grodno
124 KAPYL': Grodno
125 KAPYL: Minsk Kopyl, [Kapul, Kapulye, Kapoli, Kapolia]
126 KARLIN: see PINSK
127 KAROLINA: see DOKSHITZ
128 KARPILOKOV: Mogilev
129 KARTUZ-BEREZA: see Biaroza
130 KHATYN: Minsk
131 KLECK: see KLETSK
132 KLICHAW: [Klichev, Klitchev [Yid], Kličaŭ, Klitchaw, Kliczew]
133 KLIMOVICHI: Mogilev
134 KLIMOWITSCHI
135 KLYETSK: Minsk
136 KNYAZHITSY: Mogilev
137 KOBRIN: Grodno
138 KOBRYN: [Kobrin,Kobryń] Brest voblast
139 KOBYLNIK: see NARACH
140 KOLOPENICHI: Minsk
141 KOPIL: see Kapyl
142 KOSOW: see KOSSOVO
143 KOSSOV: see KOSSOVO
144 KOSSOVO: Brest, Grodno
145 KOSSOW: see KOSSOVO
146 KOSSUV: see KOSSOVO
147 KOSTUKOVICHI: Mogilev
148 KOZHAN HORODOK: see KOZHAN-GORODOK
149 KOZHAN-GORODOK: Minsk
150 KOZLAKOVICH: see PINSK
151 KOZYANY: Vilna
152 KPOYS: [KOPYS, KAPUST, KOPYŚ , KOPUST, KOPIS Orsha Raion, Vitebsk Region
153 KRASNALUKI: Minsk
154 KRASNOPOLYE: Mogilev
155 KRASNOYE: Vilna
156 KREMENSHAW: see Germanishki
157 KREMINCHAW (Khramenkovo): see Germanishki
158 KREMINZOW: see Germanishki
159 KREVA: Vilna
160 KREVE: see Krewo
161 KRICHEV: see Krychaw
162 KRIVICHI: Vileika uyezd, Vilna
163 KRUPKI: Mogilev
164 KRYASK: Mogilev
165 KRYCHAW: Mogilev
166 KURENETS: Vilna [Kurenetz]
167 KURENIEC: see KURENETS
168 KURENITZ: see KURENETS
169 LACHOWICZE: see LYAKHOVICHI
170 LACHWA: see LAKHVA
171 LACKOVICHI: see LYAKHOVICHI
172 LAHISHYN: Brest/Minsk
173 LAKHVA: Minsk
174 LEBEDEVO: Vilna
175 LENIN: Minsk [Lenino]
176 LENINSKIY RAYON: Mogilev
177 LEPEL: Vitebsk, see LYEPYEL'
178 LIDA: [Lyda]
179 LIPEN
180 LIPNISZKI: former Vilna guberniya/Lida uezd [Lipniszki , Lipnishok, Lipniscek, Lipnishky, Lipniski, Lipnishuk, Lipniszok]
181 LOGISHIN: see LAHISHYN
182 LOGOISK: Minsk
183 LOSHA: Minsk
184 LUBAN: Minsk
185 LUKOML: Mogilev
186 LUNINETS: see LUNINYETS
187 LUNINYETS: Minsk
188 LUNNA: Grodno
189 LUNNO: see LUNNA
190 LUZHKI: formerly Vilna guberniya
191 LYADY: Liady, Lady, Lyadi, Ljady, Liadi [Vitbesk region]
192 LYAKHAVICHY: Minsk
193 LYEPYEL: Vitebsk
194 LYNTUPY: [Lintup. Lintupis, Lentupis] Švencionys
195 LYSKOVO: Grodno
196 LYUBAN: see LUBAN
197 LYUBCHA: Minsk
198 LYUBONICHI: Miinsk
199 LYUDENEVICHI
200 MALEC: Grodno
 
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