Fridrikh (born in 1934) was born into a communist family of assimilated Jews. His father was a local official. His family tried to evacuate, but had to return. Policemen called at their house with a list of names and told them they had to move into the ghetto. They were placed in the town’s first ghetto, a former military camp. Fridrikh was there when the first selection was made in August 1941. He remembered the huge crowd in the barrack’s central yard. The Jews were demoralized. The henchmen picked people at random. Fridrikh was helpless when he saw his younger brother and his grandmother thrown up on a truck and disappear forever.
In October 1941, before the final liquidation of the first ghetto, he was saved with the rest of his family by a policeman who had been a friend of his father’s. He then found himself in the second ghetto, in a neighborhood of some 400 Jewish houses. His mother would leave the ghetto to work at a furniture factory.
The living conditions were appalling, but Fridrikh also recalled sordid episodes. For example, he stated, “I saw two German soldiers walking into the ghetto. They went up to a mother who was breastfeeding her baby. They wrung the baby away from her and threw it down. Then they sucked the woman’s breast and told her the milk was palatable.” Fridrikh was saved a second time by a policeman before the ghetto was liquidated after a rebellion, which ended with the death of several hundred Jews. After this, he was taken care of by a group of partisans.
From May 13-29, 2014, a Yahad-In Unum team went to Belarus on a sixteenth research trip, in the region of Minsk, around the town of Soligorsk. In the course of this research trip, the Yahad team interviewed 44 witnesses and investigated 28 execution sites.
Administrative Region of Minsk
Investigated towns and villages: Starobin, Kopatsevichi, Grozava, Juki, Koniukhi, Malyie Prussy, Kopyl, Kolodeznoie, Jaulki, Kopyl, Lenino, Zaostrovechie, Lenin, Dubniki, Liuban, Staryie Dorogui, Sloboda, Selishché, Slutsk, Pogost 1, Ivanovskiie Ogorodniki, Krasnaia Sloboda, Iazyl, Polikarovka, Urechiie, Glusk, Shatsk.
The area was quickly occupied by the Germans early in the summer of 1941. In this area, the slaughter of Jewish victims cannot be said to have been radically different from other regions of the country. The local police as well as Baltic and Ukrainian units were undoubtedly involved in the extermination process and collaborated with the Germans. Both closed and open ghettoes were quickly established.
– Forced labor and selection processes were often part of the extermination.
– During this research trip, the Yahad team worked in a heavily wooded area. This type of area allowed intense partisan activity at the time, but in turn triggered severe reprisals against the local population. Whole villages were wiped off the map. Countless villages we drove though remain scarred by punitive raids and mass slaughter.
– Gipsies were slaughtered in the village of Zaostrovechie. Today, the pit were the Gipsies were killed is on the site of a sawmill and there is no memorial.