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The Minsk Ghetto
"You couldn't go.... you were bound to stay waiting for your execution" -- Yala Korwin
On June 28, 1941, German tanks entered the capital of Minsk, Belarus. Approximately 75,000 Jews resided within the city. The first order required all men from 15 to 45 years of age to appear at the registration point. A failure to obey the order was punishable by death. Thousands of men obeyed and when they arrived at the checkpoint, they were sent to Drozdy camp. The Gestapo seized ten men on the street and created the Jewish Committee. Unwillingness to obey would result in punishment by gunshot. By July 15, 1941, the registration of the Jews was completed. On that day the Jews were ordered to wear yellow stars on their chests and on their backs. There were specific strict rules about the yellow stars. They had to be ten centimeters wide. The Jews were instructed not to walk down the main streets. Soon after this, there were postings in German and Byelorussian: Within three days of the posting of this Order, all Jewish inhabitants of the City of Minsk must move into the Jewish Quarter. After that time, any Jew found in the non-Jewish area of the city will be arrested and severely punished.
for the rest go to http://ghetto.actiweb.com/minskghetto.html
July 20: Minsk Ghetto established
The order to establish the ghetto in Minsk streets and alleys plus the Jewish cemetery was given on July 20, 1941. Jews were brought to the ghetto from Slutzk, Dzerzhinsk, Cherven, and other localities in the vicinity of Minsk. Jewish men and women who had married non-Jews were also taken to the ghetto, as were their children. In all, the ghetto population climbed to 100,000.
The Minsk Ghetto : Authority
and Rule While the rest of Europe was struggling with the war against
Germany, many of the inhabitants of the Ghettos were struggling with
German rule. The Minsk Ghetto was among those that were constantly terrorized
by the German police. The chief of the German police, Gattenbach, was
looking for Jews to terrorize in the Ghetto. He frequently visited in
order to torture and beat women and children who did not hide in time.
As time progressed, things only seemed to have turned for the worse.
Richter, a Prussian police official who "relieved" Gattenbach
in the Ghetto, proved to be a more experienced murder in his time. (Smolar
45) His cruelty exceeded to the borders of depravation, as he constantly
looted the Ghetto off from many needs the Jews possessed. Eventually,
Richter was replaced by Benetzke, who was later replaced by S.S. Scharfuhrer.
Each of the new Chiefs surpassed the previous in cruelty. The superior
of these police chiefs was Commandant Redder. All decrees against the
Minsk settlement were issued by him. He would constantly demand funds
and goods from the head of the Jewish settlement. The Judenrat members
were responsible with delivering these goodsIn addition to the constant
terrors faced by the German police, the Ghetto also faced another band
of brigands. The murder squad of the Shiroka concentration camp, headed
by Deputy Commandant Gorodietski, constantly raided the village to look
for workers, and for Jews to burn at Trostynietz. The Shiroka camp was
supervised by the security service, the Sicherheitsdienst. All acts
of terrorism upon the Minsk population was headed by the S.S. and police
General Zenner. But after February of 1942, Zenner was replaced by Obersturmbannffuhrer
Edouard Strauch, who was head of the Security service in Byelorussia,
who was sent from Berlin. With so many different officials in various
ranks, it was always difficult to keep track of orders that were supposedly
carried out by the demand of Generals over Commandant Redder. This,
of course, would open room for many possible acts of atrocities. The
Jews, however weak they were by the attacks of the Germans, still managed
to have a certain degree of authority. In Minsk, the Jews responsible
for answering to German authority were the Judenrat. Their chief head
was Ilya Mushkin, who was held responsible for fulfilling the wishes
of the German police. The civil administration of occupied Byelorussia,
which carried out Hitler's policies toward the Jew, was headed by General
Kommissar Kube. The Judenrat felt tensions between him and Obersturmbannfuhrer.
Kommissar represented the civil authority, while Obersturmbannfuhrer
was the police authority. These tensions were a direct result of contradicting
attitudes toward the Ghetto. Jews who were brought from Germany, Austria,
and Czechoslovakia after the November pogroms had different perspectives
than the rest of the Jews. These were occupying the houses that were
previously taken by Soviet Jews, who were murdered to make space for
the new wave of Jews. This new wave of Jews became known as the Hamburg
Jews, since the first to arrive came from Hamburg.