The Kobryń Ghetto
Jews from Białowieża who were transported to the Kobryń ghetto (some of them were transported to the Pruzhany ghetto) died in the mass executions in Brona Góra, Borysowski Las and the Strągowa village (this name is not confirmed).
Records of Joseph Blinder found in the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH) contain statements that in Kobryń „the Gebietskommissar Panzer demanded a list of 200 sick, who were supposed to be transported to Pruzhany. The borough created a list, and instead of the sick there were many healthy on it, mainly from Białowieża. These were taken to the Strągowa village and shot by a German firing squad” (ŻIH Archive, 311/1072).
Unfortunately we don't know what place is it exactly, as there is no village under the name of Strągowa/Strągowo in the surroundings of Kobryń, and the name doesn't appear in any other testimonies. The event itself is noted as well in the Yad Vashem Encyclopaedia of the Ghettos during the Holocaust. There is information that a few weeks after establishing the ghetto (November 1941), Germans removed and murdered hundreds of sick, elderly and children. It is not specified though in which place the executions took place.
At the beginning of 1942 the Germans divided the ghetto into ghetto A, where they accommodated qualified labourers with their families, and ghetto B, where they accommodated everybody else.
The people placed in ghetto B (according to different sources from 1800 to 3000 people) were packed into wagons (200 people/wagon) and transported to Brona Góra, where they were shot down in mass executions on the 25th or 27th of July or on the beginning of June in 1942. The execution was performed by Germans, together with a division of Belorussian police. „Upon arrival, the Germans divided the people into smaller groups and led them into the forest through narrow trails in between two rows of barbed wire; straight to the previously dug holes in the ground. The victims were forced to strip, get down and lie with their face down, either on the ground or on the bodies of the previously murdered. Then the execution squad shot them with firearms.” - Józef Blinder (ŻIH archive, 301/1072).
Around 50.000 Jews transported from nearby ghettos, including the ghettos in Pińsk and Brześć, were murdered in Brona Góra in the period between May and November 1942. In the place of the execution there's a memorial statue dedicated to all of the Jews murdered in this place, but the signature doesn't mention that most of them were Jews from Poland (Brześć, Pińsk, Grodno, Prużana, Kobryń, etc were Polish before the war). The signature says:
„In the memory of 50.000 citizens of Jewish nationality from the Soviet Union and Western Europe,bestially murdered by the Nazis in the time of the Holocaust during the Great World War for the defense of the homeland, 1941-1945.”
On the 15th of October 1942, the 4250 prisoners living in ghetto A were executed. The execution took place near the Chidra village, in the Borysowski forest, currently in the city of Kobryń next to Targowa street. The Germans hired local peasants to dig four holes in the ground in the size of 60x60 meters. The executions followed a pattern already known from other places of mass-murder in Belarus – the victims had to strip, go down into the pit or stand on the edge, and they were shot with firearms (as in: I. A. Altman, Hokolost na teritorii SSSR, Moscow 2009, 426-428).
After the war, in order to cover their tracks, the Germans decided to unearth and burn most of the corpses. In the place of the mass murder stands a monument dedicated to the Holocaust victims.