Khotimsk is an urban-type settlement in the Mogilev region of Belarus. At the end of the XIX century, 2.7 thousand Jews lived here, who made up a third of the local population. Until 1929, there was a synagogue and three houses of worship in the village. Until 1938, a school with teaching in Yiddish worked.
By the 1930s, the Jewish population had declined due to the outflow of youth to large cities. By 1939, 786 Jews lived in Khotimsk. They accounted for 24.6% of local residents.
There is no reliable information about how the population of Khotimsk has changed since the war began, taking into account the draft in the army and the presence of refugees. Few documentary sources of the Second World War period about the events in Khotimsk have been preserved. In the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, only two funds contain documents about the village. The recollections of local residents and partisan Abram Genkin, who was born in Khotimsk and fought in its vicinity, are preserved.
The Nazis occupied Khotimsk on August 15, 1941. According to eyewitnesses, the village suffered not so much from military operations as from looters. On the eve of the arrival of German troops, local residents ravaged shops and office buildings.
Sources do not report how and when the registration of Jews was carried out, but eyewitnesses recall the distinctive signs that Jews were supposed to wear. The occupiers began to create the ghetto only in July 1942. It became one of the 35 ghettos created in the Mogilev region. The Jews were resettled in several houses, which were fenced off on the embankment at the confluence of the Olshovka River in Besyad.
According to the recollections of local residents, so that the Jews did not leave the village, the police officers were forced to establish checkpoints at the exits. This indirectly suggests that the ghetto was not completely isolated.
Partizan Abram Genkin recalled that his father, Leizer Genkin, was called to the commandant's office with a request to write a letter to his son. It should contain a proposal to surrender in exchange for life. When Leizer refused, the invaders said they would release all Jews from the ghetto to their homes if the letter was written. Abram Genkin retold the story he heard from third parties. Therefore, the degree of accuracy of events can cause discrepancies.
Nevertheless, the story contains a plot that there were governing bodies in the ghetto, whose representatives tried to negotiate with Leiser.
The destruction of the ghetto took place in August-September 1942. Sources report two executions in Khotimsk. At Vtoraya Kolkhoznaya Street, 18 Jews were killed in the garden of one of the houses.
Most of the ghetto prisoners, under the pretext of relocation or passport verification, were moved to the area of the Flax Factory, where the shooting took place.
According to rough estimates, about 700 Jews died in Khotimsk.