Krupki (Krupka) | Minsk

Young pioneers from Krupki, some of them Jews who were murdered during the war, 1926 Courtesy Lyuba Koichu © Yad Vashem Photo Collection / A local house © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Aleksander P., born in 1933: “It was around midday when we saw the column. It was about 3 kilometers long, and the distance to the execution site was the same. The Jews were crying. ” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum Margarita K., born in 1936: “One Jewish woman managed to escape and joined the partisans.” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum An eyewitness to a mass killing describes to Yahad’s how the execution was conducted.  © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum At this place about 2,000 Jews were murdered in pit dug in a swampland. The execution site located 30m behind the monument. © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In Unum A monument stands about 30 meters away from the mass graves. There is an inscription in Byelorussian, English and Hebrew, “To the victims of Nazism. Here lie the bodies of 1,975 Jews murdered by the Nazis on 18 September, 1941.” © Jethro Massey/Yahad-In U

Execution of Jews in Krupki

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Swampy field
Memorials :
Period of occupation:
Number of victims :

Witness interview

Margarita K., born in 1936: “One rainy day in autumn, I saw a column of about 2,000 Jews from Krupki being taken to the execution site located about 1 km away from the village. The Jews were calm, because they were told they were moving to another place. But they were all murdered. People said that one Jewish woman managed to escape and joined the partisans. I went to the execution site after the shooting. It was a ravine next to the river with many pits, each about five meters long. The pits were not properly covered, and the earth was moving, I saw blood coming out on the surface. It was horrible” (Witness n°946, recorded in Lebedevo, on August 8, 2017)

Soviet archives

“On September 18, 1941, after having surrounded the village, the Germans rounded up all Jewish families on the market square in front of the town hall. [...] The entire Jewish population gathered near the town hall, where the Germans counted everyone to see if all the Jews had arrived, [...] 1,900 people in all. I learned this number from a woman who, the day before, went around the houses to register Jewish families. After this check near the town hall, we were made to run outside the city to the factory located on the other side of the Moscow-Minsk highway [...]. On the way, we were forbidden to look behind us and to talk. With me, there was my old mother, my husband’s mother, her two sisters with their families and my two children. My third child, still a baby, was in my arms. I lost them halfway; they had to stay behind. I never saw them again. [...] When we were brought to the pits, we were ordered to sit in rows on the ground about 25 steps away. [...] Then, they took a group of twelve people from the last row, brought them to the pit and shot them. The turn of our row arrived quickly. A German approached us, ordered us to get up and to go to the pit. As I had a baby in my arms, I lingered a little. The other 11 people went to the pit. I told to this German that I was not Jewish. Meanwhile, the eleven people were shot. The German brought me to the pit and told me where I should lie. Under his supervision, I lay down with my baby on the bodies that were not dead yet and moved. The German went to take the next group. There were still 25-30 people to shoot. While the German was making the round trip, I discreetly came out of the pit with my baby and began to run. [...]
At first, the execution site was surrounded by many guards, about 400 people, but when my turn arrived the guards were less numerous because most of them had gone to the canteen. [...][Deposition of a Jewish survivor Mariia S., born in 1915, given to the State Extraordinary Commission (ChGK); RG 22.002M: 7021-87-7]

German archives

“[...] I remember searching for a hairdresser in Krupki to get my beard cut. The man who shaved me had a wooden leg.
The next day, around 9 am, I looked through the window of my accommodation. At about 50-100 m, I saw about 40-50 people: men, women and children. The column was moving towards a hill. The day before, people had dug a pit there. The man with the wooden leg who had shaved me the day before was also in the column. Otherwise I wouldn’t have understood that those people were the Jews. SS men were leading the column. [...] Here’s what I observed from a distance of 50-100 m: The Jews had to stand at the edge of the pit facing the pit. In front of them there was someone who was reading names out loud. Once being called the Jews had to go on another side of the pit. [...] One of the SS men came up behind them and shot them in the nape of the neck. [...]. [Deposition of Josef H., a member of the Landesschützenregiment 61 unit, drawn up on April 13, 1964 in Aix-la-Chapelle; B162-3287]

Historical note

Krupki is located 129 km north-east from Minsk. The settlement was founded in 1067. The first records about the local Jewish community date back to the 17th century. According to the historical sources 1,800 people lived in Krupki in 1895, the majority of whom was Jewish. They lived off small-scale trade and handicrafts. At that time there were three Hebrew schools and three synagogues in Krupki. In 1920s about 75% of the local Jews emigrated to Western Europe and the USA. As a result only 870 Jews lived in the town in 1939, comprising only 25% of the total population.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Krupki was occupied by the Germans on July 1, 1941.  The Germans established their headquarters on Leninskaya Street. Shortly afterwards, all the Jewish population was marked and confined in the ghetto, created in July 1941. The ghetto contained around 1,000 Jews. The first killings started shortly after that and lasted from July to mid-September. Thus, about 100 Jews were murdered at the cemetery during one of such aktions.  On September 18, 1941, under the pretext of being sent for forced labor to Germany about 1,900 Jews of the town were gathered at the main square.  After having been checked according to the lists, they were all taken outside the village in the direction of Lebedevo, to the pits dug next to the Strazhnitsa river. Prior to the execution the Jews were forced to strip down to their underwear and surrender all their valuables, then in groups of twelve-fifteen they were brought to the pits and shot. The execution was carried out in two pits dug in advance. The local men were requisitioned to fill the pits in. The aktion was carried out by Einzatzkommando 8 based in Borisov.

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