Kletsk | Minsk

Kletsk in 1939. ©Public domain, Wikipedia The Pastavelskiy Familly in Kletsk before the war. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum / The building of the former Yeshiva school in Kletsk. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Galina M. remembers how the Jews were forced to wear armbands. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Maria T. remembers speaking to the Jews through the ghetto’s fence. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Olga T. remembers seeing a rabbi at the front of the column of Jewish victims being led to the shooting site. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum Valentina P., born in 1927, describing the size of the pit. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum The mass killing site of the Jews from Kletsk. ©Nicolas Tkatchouk/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Kletsk

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Near the cemetery
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
5,000

Witness interview

Olga T.: "Jewish skilled workers from the ghetto set the ghetto on fire. A lot of people died. I saw the burned corpses when on my way to school". (Witness N°465, interviewed in May, 2011)

Soviet archives

"A big grave was dug near the cemetery on the outskirts of Kletsk. There were Lithuanians there who carried out the shooting. They were armed with machine guns. The Soviet civilians were taken to the grave in groups. 3,000 people were killed during this first action." [Act of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, RG0.002M/7021-81/127]

Historical note

The town of Kletsk lies 23km southeast of Baranovichi. In 1921, there were 4,190 Jews in the town (74% of the total population). The city was under German occupation from 1941 to 1944.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

On October 24, 1941, 34 Jews were shot. On October 29, 1941, the German Kommandant ordered all the Jews to gather at the marketplace for a selection. The Jews were split into two groups: one of about 3,800 remained in the square and a smaller group was escorted to the synagogue. The larger group was then marched to the Catholic cemetery. The Jews were shot  in mass graves that had been prepared in advance by non-Jewish locals. After the Aktion, the remaining Jews from the synagogue were placed in a ghetto. Circa 1,400 Jews were interned in the ghetto, including Jews from surrounding villages and some that were discovered in hiding. The second Aktion, which resulted in the liquidation of the ghetto in Kletsk, took place on July 22, 1942. One night the ghetto was surrounded, so the next day Jews set it on fire in an attempt to stop the Germans using their property and to help their escape. In response, the Germans and their collaborators fired into the burning ghetto, and some Jews tried to flee in the chaos. Others committed suicide or were burned alive in their hiding places. Circa. 400 Jews were eventually escorted out of the ghetto and shot near the Christian cemetery. Up to 1,000 Jews were murdered in the ghetto area, and only a few dozen managed to survive. Of the Jews who fled, most took refuge in the Kopyl Forest, where they joined the Jewish Zhukov partisan unit.

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