The Minsk Ghetto

Barbara Epstein

in The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520242425
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931336 | DOI:
The Minsk Ghetto

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This chapter discusses the formation of Minsk ghettos following the invasion of the German army. On June 22, 1941, Germans attacked the Soviet Union. Many fled Minsk including the Minsk Byelorussian Communist Party. However, many people including Jews and Communists who would become the main targets of the Germans remained in Minsk past the time when it was possible to leave because their family members were at their workplaces and their children were at camps. Of the people that tried to escape, many of them were forced back to Minsk as they were driven back by German soldiers. The impending hostility of the Germans to the Jews was not yet discovered in the year and nine months preceding the German invasion because negative information about the Nazi regime was screened out of the news that reached Soviet populations. Plus, German hostility was further conflicted by the long-standing view that German culture was particularly enlightened in regard to Jews. No one understood that Jews would be special targets and no one anticipated the level of violence that was to take place. The first sign of the German's hostility toward Jews came several weeks after the invasion. Men aging fifteen to forty-five were asked to report to public squares. Tens of thousands of men marched to the village of Drozdy where the Germans set up primitive camps. The Germans separated Jews from Byelorussians who were eventually released. The Jews who were detained were separated further by their occupations. Those who were professionals were murdered, while those who were not were eventually made to occupy the ghettos which were under the control and guard of Germans. Inside the ghettos, underground movements were formed, starvation was prevalent, and escapes were carried out. In the following months and years after the German invasion, pogroms were conducted, killing thousands of Jews in the ghettos.

Keywords: Minsk ghettos; German army; Jews; Communists; German invasion; Drozdy; ghettos; pogroms

Chapter.  13975 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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