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Ghetto in Chechersk

Chechersk is a small town in the territory of the Gomel region. In the region, according to 1939, Jews were the second largest ethnic group after Belarusians. About 20.9 thousand Jews lived in the region.

In Chechersk itself, the Jewish population was 20% of the local population. According to the 1939 census, 977 Jews lived here. Unlike the neighboring small towns of Gomel oblast, evacuation was organized in Chechersk after the start of the German invasion of Belarus. As a result, by the time the city was occupied in August 1941, about 200 Jews remained in the city. This fact, according to historian Leonid Smolovitsky, contributed to the fact that the losses of the Jewish population of Chechersk were smaller compared to other settlements in the Gomel region and amounted to 32% of the pre-war population.

The city was occupied on August 14, 1941. It came under the jurisdiction of the command of Army Group Centre. As in other localities, restrictive measures and insignia for the Jewish population were introduced here. The ghetto in Chechersk was created in the summer of 1941 and lasted four months.

Like other ghettos in the Gomel region, Chechersk was not of any economic interest to the invaders. Its only task was to deprive the prisoners of the will to live. Jews were used in cleaning the territory, repair and construction works and for humiliating occupations. One of them was catching flies in the Chechersk commandant’s office. The prisoners were not fed or paid for the work done.

According to sources, Roma were kept in the Chechersk ghetto together with the Jewish population.

The extermination of the prisoners took place in several stages. At the end of November 1941, the Nazis shot 80 people in an anti-tank ditch outside the city. In December 1941, General Max von Schenkendorff, the commander of the rear units of the Centre army, ordered the final elimination of the Chechersk ghetto.

The order was executed on December 28, 1941. Jews from Chechersk and local Roma were exterminated and buried in a mass grave. According to eyewitnesses, punishers did not spend bullets on the sick, the elderly, children and women. They were simply strangled and thrown into the pit. In total, 432 ghetto prisoners were killed during the extermination aktion. According to historians, not only the punitive SS Einsatzgruppe participated in the aktion, but also the army units and the local police.