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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
301 SLONIM: Grodno oblast, formerly Minsk guberniya
302 SLUTSK: Minsk [Słuck, Slutzk , Słucak,
303 SMALYAVICHY: Minsk
304 SMARHON: Minsk [Smorgon, Smorgonie, Smurgainys]
305 SMILOVICHI: Minsk
306 SMOLYARKA: Brest
307 Sobotnik/Subotniki: see Iwje / Ivye former Lida uezd
308 SOLY:
309 SOPOCKIN: see Sopotskin
310 SOPOTKIN: see Sopotskin
311 SOPOTKINNIE: see Sopotskin
312 SOPOTSKIN: Grodno
313 STAROBIN: Minsk
314 STARYYE DAROHI: Minsk
315 STCHEDRIN: Mogilev - see Shchadryn
316 STOLBTSY: see Stowbtsy
317 STOLIN: Minsk
318 STOWBTSY: Minsk
319 SURAZH: Vitebsk
320 SVIERZAN NOVY: Minsk
321 SVIR: Vitebsk/Vilona [Swir, Swirz, Svyriai] Svencionys
322 SVISLACH: Grodno
323 SVISLOVICH: Grodno
324 SVISLOVITZ: Minsk
325 SZCZUCZYN: see Scucyn
326 TIMKOVICHI: Minsk
327 TRABY: Vilna, formerly Lida uezd
328 TUROV: Minsk
329 ULLA: Vitebsk
330 URECHYE
331 USHACHI
332 USKROM'YE: see DOKSHITZ
333 UZDA: Minsk
334 UZLYANY: Minsk
335 VALOZHYN: Minsk/Vilna [Volozhin ,Wołożyn, Volozhyn, Vałožyn, Volozin,
336 VASILEVICHI: Gomel
337 VASILISKI: Vasilishki, Vasilishok, Lida uezd [Wasiliszki, Vasilishak, Vasilishok, Vasilishki]. Wawiorka, Vaverka, Vavryka, Wawiorka]
338 VAWKAVYSK: Grodno
339 VELKA VES: Grodno/Vilna
340 VETKA: [Vetka, Viatka , Wietka , Vietka,
341 VIAZHIN: Vilna
342 VIDZY: Vitebsk, Kovno
343 VILEIKA: Vilna
344 VILYATICHI: Mogilev
345 VISHNEVO: Minsk/Vilna (Wiszniew, Vishneva, Višnieŭ,Vishnava, Vishnev, Vishniva, Viszniew, Wisznievo, Wiszniewo, Visneva)
346 VITEBSK: Vitebsk [Vitsyebsk, Witebsk,Vitsebsk, Vicebsk, Viciebsk,, Wizebsk, Vicebska , Vitebskas ,
347 VITSYEBESK: see Vitebsk
348 VOLCHIN: Brest, Kamenets
349 VOLKOVYSK: see VAWKAVYSK
350 VOLMA: see Ivenets
351 VOLOZHIN: see Valozhyn
352 VOLPA: Grodno
353 VORONOVO: former Lida uezd/Vilna gub. [Voranava, Woronów, Voranova, Voronov, Voronove, Werenów, Woronowo]
354 VOROTINSCHINA (Zaverezh'ye): Mogilev
355 VOROTINSHTINA
356 VOZNVOSHCINA: see DOKSHITZ
357 VSELYUB: Minsk
358 VYAZYN: Vilna/Gomel
359 VYERKHVYADZVINSK: Vitebsk
360 VYSOKOE (Vysokaye): Kamenets district, Brest
361 VYUN: Mogilev
362 WASILEWICZE: see VASILEVICHI
363 WIAZYN: see Vyazyn
364 WISHNEV: see Vishnevo
365 WISZNIEW: see Vishnevo
366 WOLKOWYSK: see VAWKAVYSK
367 Wsielub: see VSELYUB, Minsk
368 YEHZONA
369 YELSK: Gomel
370 ZALUDOK :[ Zheludok, Żołudek, Zholudok, Zhaludok, Zoludek] , Bojary, Farny Koniec,formerly Lida uezd/Vilna guberniya, Krasula, Dabrowo, Kupry, Skiersie, and Zatoki, and the zascianek Wołczki;.
371 ZASLAWYE: Minsk
372 ZAVEREZH'YE: see Vorotinschina
373 ZELVA: Volkovysk Uezd
374 ZELWA I and II
375 ZEMBIN: Minsk
376 ZHEDRIN: see SELIBA
377 ZHELUDOK: Vilna
378 ZHETEL: see DYATLOVO
379 ZHLOBIN: Homiel Voblast
380 ZHYTKAVICHY: Minsk
381 ZUPRANY: former Vilna guberniya
 
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