Ghetto in Pinsk
The Nazis entered Pinsk at the beginning of July 1941. Before the war, 22,149 Jews lived here. Only a part of them were evacuated by the time of the German occupation. Refugees who moved from other settlements lived in the city. Already in August, the invaders shot many people. Under the extermination, which the Nazis cynically called ‘aktion’, fell the male population. According to the researcher I. Arad, 4,500 Jews were killed. When these facts were investigated by the Extraordinary State Commission, it was found that the Nazis in August 1941 killed up to 10,000 Jews near the city.
Jews were required to wear yellow six-pointed stars on their clothing. They were forbidden to walk on the sidewalks, to leave the city.
The invaders tried to create unbearable conditions for the Jewish population. People were brutally abused, their labor was used for hard work, they were robbed, forced to give away things that had value, as well as gold. Residents were ordered to hand over 20 kg of gold, then they were ordered to hand over wool, wool suits, leather for making shoes, livestock, and soap. By winter, even old warm clothes were taken away from people. Failure to comply with the order meant death. Jews were forbidden to exchange things for food and to slaughter animals for meat. Bakers were forced to hand over bread to the Germans. If the norm was not met, Jewish hostages were executed.
As in other ghettos, a Judenrat was created in the city. Its head, David Alper, who leaded the Tarbut school before the occupation, stayed in office for only a couple of days, then refused and was killed by the Nazis. The Jewish police began to operate, at first there were 15 people, and in 1942 the number of police officers reached 50.
Pinsk became part of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine created by the occupiers. There were 18,644 Jews in the city, and everyone ended up in a closed ghetto, which was created on May 1, 1942. The territory was surrounded by barbed wire, the exits were on Listovskogo, Severnaya and Albrekhtovskaya streets.
Residents were driven to forced labor. They cleared rubble and built roads. The municipality has organized many workshops. At the beginning of 1942, there were 9056 Jews in the city who could work. 1982 of them worked in industrial production, 291 in their own workshops. Until September, the workshops were closed due to the fact that these enterprises were located outside the Jewish part of the city, and the ghetto did not have the necessary raw materials and electricity.
The Jews were placed in extremely difficult conditions. Products received on cards, food was not enough to survive.
A polyclinic, a pharmacy, and a Jewish hospital began to operate on the territory of the ghetto. Its staff consisted of 62 people. Health workers tried to reduce the death rate among the Jews living in the ghetto, they fought against epidemics.
The Nazis brought several thousand Jews to the ghetto, who lived in the surrounding settlements. Tragic events took place in June and October 1942. First, the invaders arrested 3,500 Jews from Pinsk and Kobrin, then they were shot at the Bronnaya Gora station. In October, the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto. The Germans, as part of a motorized police battalion, occupied the ghetto. There are known facts of resistance from the underground fighters, most of the latter died. Both German and Belarusian policemen took part in the extermination aktion. Few Jews were able to escape and get to the partisans.
The commander of the police battalion in his report reported that 26.2 thousand Jews were killed in a couple of days. The exact number of deaths is unknown. According to I. Arad, then 17,000 died. 150 Jews from among the artisans were left alive and placed in the "small ghetto", but they were also killed in December of that year. Incomplete data show that the Holocaust claimed the lives of 25,000 Jews in Pinsk. About 40 people survived. Some of them became fighters of partisan detachments, others were saved by local residents.