Lebedevo (Liebiedzieva, Lebedeve, Lebiedziew) | Minsk

/ Yelena M., born in 1939: “The Jews were traders, but there was also a Jewish pharmacist and a doctor. They spoke Russian at the market, but among themselves they spoke their own language.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Vera S., born in 1935: “The Jews were gathered in the ghetto located behind the selsoviet. I used to go to play with Jewish children Dreisia and Judik there, and my mother used to send me to take milk to the Jews.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Antonina R., born in 1930: “Our neighbor Sviridov was hiding Jews for a while. When it got too dangerous he take them to the forest so that they could join the partisans.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Mikhail Z., born in 1933: “An Orthodox priest sheltered the 3-year-old son of Marusia, the wife of the dentist Tsukerman. She managed to escape, but she came back after the war, took her son and disappeared.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Valentina S., born in 1926: “One Jewish woman left the ghetto to help our family dig the potatoes in exchange for food.” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Fiodor S., born in 1939: “A poor Jewish shoemaker, Gote,l was about 50 years old and had five daughters. Our family used to pay him for shoes with potatoes and other products. ” ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The ghetto was located between Sovetskaya and Zaretchanskaya street and bordered the Nevezha River. The village was burned down in 1944. All the houses that stand there today were built after the war. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum A witness accompanies Yahad team to the Jewish cemetery, where his father took the bodies of the Jews who escaped the mass shooting, but were caught and shot later. It is located on a mound, overgrown with tall grass. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The surviving tombstones at the Jewish cemetery. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum About 950 Jews were shot and burned in a barn at this site. The barn stood in a field outside the town. Trees are now growing around the monument and the mass grave. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews in Lebedevo

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery (1); Barn in the field (2)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1941-1944
Number of victims :
?/600-959

Witness interview

Antonina R., born in 1930: “The Jews were gathered in the ghetto that had been created on Zarechnaya and Molodechnenskaya streets, including a part of the central square. The river Nevezha passed through the ghetto. It was fenced in with barbed wire. I used to go in via the river and take bread, milk and butter to the Jewish inhabitants, and to see my friends Sirka and Eida. They were good, kind girls. The Jews always offered something in exchange, but every time I refused. I remember that all the Jews, young and old, were marked with six-pointed stars on their shoulders.” (Witness n°923, interviewed in Lebedevo on July 31, 2017)

Soviet archives

“Before the beginning of the war, that is to say before July 1941, there were about 1,900 Jews in the Lebedevo Selsoviet, in the district of Molodechno. From July to October 1941, these Jews lived in their own homes. In the same month [October] of the same year [1941], the German authorities rounded up the entire Jewish population and confined them in the so-called “ghetto” created on Zarechnaya Street and part of Vilinskaya Street. This separated the Jewish population from the rest of Lebedevo’s inhabitants. The ghetto was surrounded with barbed wire. In addition, the Germans set up a permanent surveillance of the ghetto, which was provided by the local policemen. On June 24, 1942, at dawn, around 3am, the German punitive detachment, as well as the police, surrounded the ghetto and gathered about 600 people including children. The Germans announced that the Jews would be sent to work and forced the Jews to put on their warm clothes. Then, they took all these Jews by the paved road to the village of Markovo about 1km outside of Lebedevo and locked them in the barn. There, the Germans shot them all, then covered them with petrol and burned the bodies.” [Deposition of Anton S., born in 1885, given to the State Extraordinary commission (ChGK) in 1944; RG 22.002M: 7021-89-9]

German archives

“The Jews, whose apartments had been given to the locals, were gathered by the SD and shot in a barn outside the city. There were about 50-100 Jews. The barn was burned down after the execution. One Jewish man, who had not been mortally wounded, escaped from the barn, his clothes on fire. But he was shot on the spot.” [An excerpt from the investigation report; B162-1296]

Historical note

Lebedevo is located 73km north-west of Minsk. According to the census of 1897, 1,232 Jews lived in the village, making up half of the total population. By 1921 their number had decreased down to 900. During a pogrom conducted on September 5, 1915, the Jewish houses and shops were looted or destroyed. During the inter-war period, the village was under Polish control. At that time the Jews had their own primary school and a two-storied wooden synagogue. They lived off small-scale trade and handcrafts, and some of them worked as doctors or pharmacists, whilst some owned local industries.  In 1939 the village was taken over by the Soviet Union following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Lebedevo was occupied by Wehrmacht troops at the end of June 1941. At the beginning of the occupation the Jews continued to live in their houses. A ghetto was created in October. Located on two streets, where the majority of Jews lived before the war, the ghetto was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and guarded by local police. The Jews were marked with yellow six-pointed stars. The Jews fit to work were required to perform hard labor on the railway. In the ghetto, the victims suffered from overcrowding and hunger, even though some of the inmates secretly managed to leave the ghetto to ask for food. On June 24, 1942, a German punitive squad arrived and selected circa. 600 Jews under the pretext of being taken to carry out hard labor. However, they were instead led to a barn 1km outside Lebedevo to be shot. According to the memorial which stands on the site, the number of victims was even bigger. Some Jews managed to hide in the village but were found and shot by the Germans. Their corpses were buried in the Jewish cemetery by requisitioned villagers. With the help of local witnesses, Yahad - In Unum was able to identify this site, which remains without any memorial today.

Jewishgen

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