1944 and After the War

1944 and After the War

The Germans controlled Byerazino until the summer of 1944. Beginning on 22 June, the Soviets staged a major offensive known as Operation Bagration, which ended on 19 August with the liberation of Belarus. Mogilev and Bobruisk were nearby German strongholds, targeted by the Soviet forces.

Once again, the Berezina valley was in the midst of the fighting. According to Walter S. Dunn, heavy combat took place along the Mogilev - Minsk highway during the last days of June, 1944. On 29 June, Soviet aircraft twice bombed the bridge that crossed the River Beresina at Byerazino, while attempting to destroy a German tank division that was backed up along the road near Pahost while waiting to cross the river. In the fighting, many buildings in Byerazino and Pahost were destroyed.  

After 1944, a few members of Byerazino's Jewish community came back. Either they had been evacuated to the east before the Nazi invasion, had fought with the partisans during the occupation, or were members of the Russian military who had survived the war.  Amazingly, considering the scale of the battle in the summer of 1944, the Buslovich family found its home intact  - albeit, inhabited by strangers. They recovered it with help from the local police. 

At the end of WWII, memorials were placed at the two execution sites. The monument at Internatsionalnaya Street is inscribed "Here lay the remains of 940 citizens from the town of Berezino, shot and tormented by German fascist invaders in 1942." The monument on the Minsk-Mogilev road reads "Buried here are 250 Soviet citizens, shot by invaders in 1942. Eternal memory to the victims of fascism." Apparently, Soviet ideology did not permit mention of the victims' Jewish identity.

According to a history of Byerazino written by Professor Emmanuel Joffe, a few hundred Jews had returned by the 1950s. But the Jewish population of Byerazino dwindled as people moved to Minsk or other cities in Belarus, or immigrated to Israel and the United States. By 1999, there were only 15 Jews left. Joffe lists the names of individuals who were highly regarded in the ‘50s - 90s: “Teachers Lev Fedorovich Dobyn, Bella Ilinichna Rubinchik, Herz Moiseevich Lvovich, Semyon Goldin; director of the motor depot Simon Lazarevic Friedland, doctors Zeldin and Yakhnin, tailor Mikhail Klebanov, engineer and economist Honya Neumann, heads of the DEU-718 Samuel Fadeyevich Gurevich and Simon Fadeyevich Gurevich, and chairman of the street committee Kuhn Naumovna Joffe."

Byerazino's historic Jewish cemetery was levelled by the Soviets in the 1970s. The site is shown in Joseph Buslovich's photo, below. Only two original gravestones, very old and worn, survived the Soviet action. Modern gravestones in today's cemetery, photographed by Aleksandrs Feigmanis, bear witness to the last residents of the Byerazino Kehila.

Berezino Cemetery

Sources and Additional Reading

"Commemoration of Jewish Victims." Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Accessed 12 March 2016. http://www.yadvashem.org/untoldstories/database/commemoration.asp?cid=3

Dunn, Walter S. (2000). Soviet Blitzkrieg: The Battle for White Russia, 1944. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Pub. 

Joffe, Emanuel G. "Типичное Местечко (Typical Shtetl)" My Shtetl: The Voices of Jewish Settlements, Mogilev Region. Accessed 18 March 2016. http://shtetle.co.il/shtetls_minsk/berezino/ioffe.html

Wikipedia contributors. "Operation Bagration." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 March 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bagration

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Compiled by Carola Murray-Seegert, Ph.D.           Updated April 2017                    Copyright © Carola Murray-Seegert, Ph.D.                     JewishGen Homepage                                  KehilaLinks Directory