Ghetto in Bykhov

Benjamin Belenky
2 min readJun 20, 2020 — online burials catalog.

In 1939, Jews accounted for 20.8% of the more than 11 thousand Bykhov citizens. By the beginning of 1940, about 3.5 thousand Jewish refugees from Polish lands arrived in the Mogilev region. Some of them settled in Bykhov.

The city was occupied from July 1941 to June 1944. Due to the rapid movement of the German army and blockedф roads, the Jews failed to evacuate from the city. Some did not consider it necessary to leave the potential zone of occupation, referring to the experience of the First World War, in which the German army behaved in a civilized manner towards the civilian population.

The Nazis carried out the policy of exterminating Jews in the city according to the scheme applied in other occupied cities. Already in August 1941, the invaders carried out the first rally, shooting more than 250 people, who were taken out under the pretext of road works to the Bykhov-Rogachev highway in the Gankovsky Moat.

Since the beginning of September 1941, the invaders began the compulsory registration of Jews and the creation of a ghetto. A territory that included the Sapieha Castle and the Church of Transfiguration was allocated under the ghetto.

The ghetto included not only Jewish residents of Bykhov, but also refugees from West Belarusian and Polish lands, some Jews from the neighboring village of Sapezhinka, as well as party and Soviet workers of the city. They were only about 4.6 thousand people.

The ghetto lasted a week. During this time, the prisoners did not receive food and water. The extermination of prisoners began in September 1941. Those who were able to move were withdrawn from the city in columns, and the weakened were taken out in cars. The executions took place six kilometers from the village of Voronino. The invaders threw the bodies into the anti-tank ditch. According to eyewitnesses, the executioners did not spend bullets on the children, interrupted the spine and threw them into the pit.

After the destruction of the ghetto in Bykhov, an urban legend appeared that the ghosts that had lived there for centuries disappeared from Sapieha Castle. Therefore, the local population tried to psychologically cope with the injury from what happened.

More than 4 thousand people became victims of the extermination. At the end of 1943, as in other occupied territories, the Nazis tried to destroy the remains of the dead.

After the war, the remains of the dead were buried in a Jewish cemetery, where two monuments were erected — male and female, according to Jewish tradition. Through the efforts of the local community and foreign sponsors, commemorative signs were erected at the places of executions: along the road to the village of Voronino and Gankovsky Moat. — online burials catalog.

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