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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]

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