German occupation

June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. After gaining the control over some parts of its territory. Germans have divided newly acquired land in their way. Białowieża became part of the new administrative unit - the district of Bialystok (Bezirk Bialystok), which took over the Bialystok region and part of the Polesie and part of Warsaw voivodeships and became part of East Prussia. Hitler appointed Erich Koch as the president of Eastern Prussia and the head of the civil administration of the Bezirk Bialystok. Bezirk Bialystok was divided into seven large districts (Creis- Commissariats), led by Creis-kommisioners - Landrats. At the level of large municipalities, the administration bodies were Amtskommissariats. One of them was in Białowieża, and it gathered more than 100 smaller neighbouring towns.

The German army marched into Białowieża June 27, 1941. German command post was located in the pre-war municipality administration building (Today Olgi Gabiec Street). The jail was located in the former Jaegerhouse on Parkowa Street (now an orphanage and post office). Initially, it was the post of the Police Battalion No. 322; next, the gendarmerie was placed there. The residents of Białowieża and the surrounding area were detained there during the investigations, later sent to the concentration camps and sentenced to death.

The residence of the Nazi government officials was the hunting lodge in the Palace Park (the building only partially preserved). The commander officers of the troops stationing in the Białowieża Forest had their offices there, so as forest administration director Wagner, Higher Huntsman - Scherping - an official representative of Reich Marshal Hermann Goering.

At the beginning of August 1941 Amtskomissariat was placed in the building of the parsonage of the Catholic church, and at the forestry technical school German military police station was located. An auxiliary police headquarters was located the same complex of buildings (the so-called Navy Blue Polish police - approx. 30 local people). The school building was used as a station for the aviation division [18].

The testimony of Symcha Burnstein, a teacher from Kleszczele, (who was hiding in the Bialowieza forest during the German occupation) is one of the most important sources concerning the Holocaust of the Białowieża Jews. He writes: "Białowieża is a residence of many bestial Nazi formations: the Gestapo, the SS, Schutz polizei, gendarmerie" [10].

"After the invasion of the Nazi troops to Białowieża in 1941, all the elementary schools - the only schools existing there back then, - both Polish and Russian were closed. All school buildings were used as the barracks and restaurants for the German officers and soldiers "- Olga Szurkowska recalls in the book "Ślady Pamięci" [29].

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz says that the German intelligence's work was directed to stir the local community against each other. The German intelligence hired the Polish Roman Catholics as the police officers, and as Dackiewicz remembers, some of them have used their position to retaliate on the Belarusian residents, for the way they had welcomed Soviets before, and they passed Germans the names of the Belarusians who were sympathetic to the Soviets, for which they were executed [5]. Dackiewicz also says that Germans, despite the fact that in the early days of the occupation they did not oppress the Jewish community, but "they made a list for sure, because Poles gave away the names of all the Jews (...). The navy blue police on the spot made a list of the Jews, grouped by the street names " [5]. Dackiewicz adds that some time later, after the return of the Cossacks from the fortress of Brest to Białowieża (imprisoned there by the Soviets) Germans had recruited them to the gendarmerie, next to all the Polish police officer have been arrested, and all has disappeared without a trace [5].

Borys Russko says: "the period of German occupation was tragic. The days of the occupation should never be erased from the memory of the people who had survived this tragedy, when the community, that coexisted so well has been dismembered, and the great piece of it was annihilated. This piece was the Jewish community. (...) Germans entered Białowieża in June 1941. At the beginning of the occupation they had to organise the administration structure there, but orders were already clear: capital punishment for certain delinquency, for example, going out in the evening after curfew. Petty crimes - the death penalty, of course" [7].

Symcha Burnstein writes: "The Germans immediately started to repress people, Jews in particular. Two of them - Abraham Lerenkind (merchant) and Moshe Dombin (shoemaker) were immediately arrested, taken to an unknown place, where they were murdered". Burnstein also says that the Germans looted Jewish homes, taking all their belongings, men, women, and even unable to physical work were forced to do hard labour [10].

Borys Russko asked whether the Jews were discriminated by the Germans in the period from June to August, he replies: "They were discriminated. As soon as the Germans entered, all the Jews were tagged with the Stars of David sewn on clothes. Jews had to wear those signs all the time, once caught without it, the Jew was executed immediately" [7]. Jadwiga Kilis lists the forms of abuse on the Jews: hitting, kicking, ban on using sidewalks, and the order to wear yellow Stars of David on clothes [41].

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz also recalls the time when the occupation started: "At the beginning of the pacification, Germans gathered Jewish youth to work because there were no Soviet prisoners of war in Białowieża yet. Because a lot of troops marched the road between Hajnówka and Białowieża, the Jews were repairing it. Everyone has to wear a yellow Star of David on their back and chest [sewed to the clothes]. Here next to our house [district Krzyże, today Olgi Gabiec street] they often worked here, because before there was no asphalt, the road was made with crushed rubble, and these heavy vehicles, tanks drove it, so the road was quickly destroyed, so they had to repair it. You ask who? Free workers - Jews were doing it. Germans watched them, treated them like slaves, as prisoners, they had no right to speak. During the day, I saw them when they worked, but  I do not know where they went for the night (...). My mother knew the Jewish language [Yiddish] , and she stood by the fence, and she spoke to them when they threw a gravel on the road, and the German came up and said: 'please do not talk to him'" [5].

Forcing the Jews to the road works between Białowieża and Kamieniuki is mentioned by Alexander Krawczuk: "Both he [my friend Krugman], like other Jewish men were taken by the Germans from their homes and rushed to build a road from Białowieża to Kamieniuki. These Jews were detained for several days in a Przewłoka forest house. Maybe I am confusing the forest house name, but there I saw the Jews from Białowieża, on the road works. I drove the waggon to Kamyenyets because my family has been deported by the Germans. As far as I know, a few days later, these Jews were executed at the place above - a gravel pit located in the Białowieża Forest District called the Jagiellonskie. I haven't seen the moment of the execution. I know this from the Russian immigrants, who were employed in the construction of the road to Kamieniuki after Białowieża was occupied by the Germans. It was them who said that the Germans took the Jews from the construction site and executed them" [39]. Also, Aleksander Olszewski testifies that the Jews had to perform forced road works. He also talks about how the Jews from Białowieża were abused by Germans: they were beaten, forced to sleep outside at night, they were receiving starvation food rations [40].

Hiring Jews to work is also mentioned by Jan Sawicki, who lived with his parents on Stoczek (today Waszkiewicza street) near the synagogue: "At first, they [Germans] demanded the Jews to gather [next to the synagogue] and then took them to work in the Palace Park. They told them to gather there, and Germans led them to the park. They already had the Star of David on their sleeves. And every morning they gathered there and took them to work." [8]. The Jews were also exploited by the Germans to bury the corpses of the murdered Poles and Belarusians. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz says: "At the same time, Germans committed mass murder on Poles and Belarusians, not only from Białowieża but also from Hajnówka and other towns. Young Jews were the tool of labour - they dug pits and buried these people" [5]. Also, Roman Droń remembers burying corpses of Jews: "After three or four days I met a Jew I knew. His name was Nachman, he was a butcher. He said that my brother was murdered by the Germans, on the fields between the Palace Park Park and the Strict Reserve of the National Park. The corpses were buried by a few Jews appointed by the Germans; Nachman was among them" [42].

Both Symcha Burnstein and the residents of Białowieża mentions that some Jews has left Białowieża, trying to reach the Soviet Union, we do not, however, know, if anyone, has managed to survive. Alexy Dackiewicz had lived with his grandfather in part Białowieża called Zastawa. As a young boy at the behest of his grandfather helped a Jewish Wołkostawski family to reach Kamyenyets: "This Wołkostawski lived at the end of the street when the Germans entered Białowieża, my grandfather talked with them, and they paid some money to take them to Kamyenyets. There was a Jewish village, and there they had gathered. And maybe he came from there, or his family was from there. My grandfather told me to take them. I knew the ways through the forest so I took them on the waggon with one horse, and we rode side roads. I went by the forest sections roads by Kamieniuki almost to Kamyenyets [today Belarus], I forgot the name of this village. I took the whole family there. And I never saw them afterwards. Do they live or not live, I do not know" [2].

Another resident of Białowieża, who before the war lived with his parents on the Tropinka street - Bolesław Rychter also mentions those escapes: "During the war part of them [Jews] has left somewhere" and "Germans did not repress the Jews at the beginning, but some of them just escaped by themselves." The family of Bolesław Rychter also has helped the Jewish family in escape from Białowieża: "My father worked with a Jew as carters, and he asked my dad to help them to pack and leave the place. And they left somewhere. He was such a good Jew, not once he helped my dad in the forest. My father helped them get out of here, but what happened to them next is not known" [1].

In Białowieża, just like in other towns, the occupier has imposed a tribute on Jews, "delivered in gold and silver, the Soviet currency and leathers, under the threat of death penalty" [10]. Also, as in other towns, Jews had to wear markings, as Włodzimierz Dackiewicz recalls that the markings were: "Stars of David - yellow, large, worn on the back" [4], in another interview he states that both on the back and chest [5], and Jan Sawicki says that these were shoulder bands with the Star [8]. As Symcha Burnstein writes, the entire livestock also was confiscated from Jews, cows, horses and "everyday other brutal orders were announced" [10].

In July 1941, the German authorities decided to transform the Białowieża Forest in the official Hunting range of the Third Reich, which was managed in Białowieża, and directly responsible before the central authorities of the Reich.

A plenipotentiary officer of Herman Goering (who hunted in Białowieża four times before the War) appointed for this task a Higher Master of the Hunt - Ulrich Scherping. To carry out the idea, a total resettlement of the population of the villages lying in the middle and on the edge of Białowieża Forest was planned, which would also prevent guerrilla activities, and hiding of the people, wanted by the occupants.

The plans for resettlement and terrorist actions in the Forest were discussed at a conference in Białowieża, by Major Nadel, High Master of the hunt Scherping and the Higher SS and Police Commander Erich von dem Bach. As agreed at the meeting, July 23 at. 15.00 Police Battalion 322, designed to accomplish this task arrived in Białowieża. The battalion was directly subordinate to the Higher SS and Police Commander SS-Gruppenfurer von dem Bach, and the command over him took Major Nadel. The headquarters was located in the hunting lodge in the Palace Park. Two days later, on July 25th the battalion began the resettlement of the forest villages. Some of them then were burned to the ground [18].

The activities of the Battalion 322 were noted day after day by the counterintelligence Lt. Uhl. This shocking reading, dry, emotionless sentences, informing about the number of people displaced, executed or "liquidated" are followed by information about the sunny weather and a good mood of the officers.

In total, according to the log, 6446 people were displaced from 34 Białowieża forest villages, executing many people at the time.

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz says that a few days after the relocation of the nearest villages (after 25 July 1941) in one of them, which was closest to Białowieża - Pogorzelce, the Germans burned alive a group of Jews from Białowieża: "Some Jews, older people, were burned alive in in two buildings in Pogorzelce village. They transported them all the way through "Narewkowska" road to Pogorzelce where they burned them. They drove in two trucks. How many of them was there, I am not sure, or 10, or 20, or 50. Regardless, a lot of them were burned" [5]. To the question whether he saw it, in the interview from 1998, for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, he responds that his friend Vasya Jaganow talked him over to go to the empty villages hoping that he can find something useful, a saw or a scythe "I just came across [the moment], there was bunch of rye so we hid in it we looked at those people from cars being pushed into the buildings, on different sides, and then the Germans nailed the planks on the door, poured the gasoline and set the fire Germans waited until the buildings burned down. One of the building was made with bricks. They stood until the building totally collapsed. I saw it myself. We were about 250 meters away. (...) When we came back home and told mother about what we saw, she said that 'for the Jews it's the gallows time'. And it happened. After a few days, the Jews were deported from Białowieża (...)" [7]. The anecdote about the Jews burned in a barn in Pogorzelce appears only in the memory of Wlodzimierz Dackiewicz. No other resident mentions it. Also no information about this action was found in the log of the Battalion 322. Dackiewicz himself, after 17 years since that interview, tells the story once again, but this time says, that he has heard the story: "Some Jews were burned in Pogorzelce. That house is still there. When the part of them was deported to Pruzhany, some group was taken to Pogorzelce, when the whole village was relocated, and that house is still there, made of brick. Windows and doors were blocked, they poured it with gasoline and set on fire. They have burned them alive. I was not there when it was burning. I know it from the stories. Troops from the army of General Balachowicz were in the German gendarmerie; there was one guy called Trzepa, a friend he told me about these things because his father was in the German gendarmerie and he was there when they burned them" [3]. Despite the incoherence between the testimonies, we cannot ignore this event, especially because the fact, that between 26 and 31 July 1941 (the period when it could take place) the battalion log has no records, which may be interpreted that there were no notes about the actions carried out that time, not that there were no actions at all.

August 1, Germans carried out a round-ups in Białowieża and executed the arrested people, in the place close to Bialy Lasek village, near Shereshev (the so-called gravel pit Pererewo, today in Belarus). The victims were the residents of Białowieża involved in communist activities or having any office during the Soviet rule, both Belarusians, Poles, and Jews. In the official Battalion 322 we read the note dated on August 1, 1941: "According to the written materials concerning 72 communist officers from Białowieża and surrounding area, which were passed by an anonymous villager to the Chief hunt master Scherping, the Police Battalion 322 was ordered to capture and execute the people listed in the given materials" [19]. The next day, 2 August 1941 log record says:

"Vigorous start of the special action in Białowieża and the surrounding area. 36 communists were captured and executed, out of 72 wanted. Among these 36 people 6 were Jews,. 2 of them were shot for escape attempt" [19]. Waldemar Monkiewicz identified some of those Jewish people: Chananan [blacksmith], Kapłan, Hersh Krugman, age 45, two Jewish women from Hajnówka, Moniek Słonimski, age 40 and Szuster. [17]

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz also brings up the same events and people, although one month earlier:

"The Germans shot Krugman with his wife, Szuster with his wife, Słonimska Pola and Rachel, with their husbands and the blacksmith Chananin. Those events took place between June 29 and July 2 in Pererow. At the same time, in Pererow the Jews from Stoczek and the center of Białowieża were shot" [Krugmans, Szusters Słonimscy lived in part of Białowieża called Zastawa]. Dackiewicz saw the Germans arresting the Jews around 6 am, when he went to work: "Two covered trucks drove up with Germans. We were two with my friend Jan Szpakowicz; we stopped in shock because the Jews lived next to his house. Szuster and Krugman and their wives are forced on a truck. Germans poked them with guns, and were saying something, but it did not understand it. Next the others were taken on trucks: Słonimski and the blacksmith, they drove towards Pruzhany. (...) Later we found out from Boleslaw Ślązak that they were shot with others, also with Bolesaław's brother, even he was Catholic Pole. Bolesław Ślązak was there and he has found out about it, and told us, like neighbour to neighbour, that all those Jews who were arrested, it said that there were 12 people, 6 men and 6 women, but there were more for sure, because they were transported in two trucks, so surely they were more then 12 people shot". Dackiewicz also said, that the Germans, who transported Jews for execution, surely were from Gestapo, because the uniform collars they were wearing were brown [5].

Borys Russko says about the first executions: "The first executed men were former employees of local authorities from the Soviet period, poor peasants. Belarusians, Poles and Jews. They killed them on the spot. No one cared about the nationality, just the fact that someone has been working in local Soviet administration. That was enough to arrest and shoot the man. No trial, without questions about the function, just the fact that you were in some National Council was enough to kill you" [7].

August 5th 1941 Battalion 322 carried out the evacuation of the families of the executed on August 2. 57 families have been relocated (169 people in total). From the polish translation of the log carried out by Leszczynski, it's not clear where the families were moved and whether the families of the executed Jews were evacuated as well [19].

Mass extermination of Jews in Białowieża has begun on 9th August 1941. Early in the morning, the police from a third company of the Battalion 322 raided Jewish homes and brutally brought the families out. Part of the testimonies says the entire families were deported [40, 41, 45], another part says that first men were taken, women and children were deported later [43, 44].

Borys Russko remembers the deportation, as a young boy he watched the neighbouring Lubietkin family being taken away (including his friend Szmul), from his window: "First days of August, early morning. At once all the Jews are moved from Białowieża, they separate men from women, old from children and shooting them. The rest of them were deported south from Białowieża to Kobryn. It was the most tragic experience, I witnessed the deportation of the family I knew very well, they were our neighbors. 9th August in the early morning the car drives up with the noise, the shouting Germans pop out from the car in the police uniforms, I woke up and looked out the window. All the Germans ran on the Lubetkin family's yard, and after some time, all of them are being taken away. They took Judel and Malka, their son Szmulko and daughter Frejda walked before them. Also, Malka's brother [Moshe Pisarewicz], and the old man, who was poked with the gun in the back by the German. The old man Kuszel had a big problem with walking, and the German was hurrying him. It was Szmulko's grandfather. Szmulko's head was bowed, he was morose, and the girl was weeping. I was staring, it was a very hard moment to me. The German saw me at the window and pointed the gun at me. I rapidly stepped away. I just managed to see how they forced them on the truck and the car quickly drove away." [7].

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz also remembers this day: "They [Jews] were taken by on trucks. The Jews was allowed to take just one bundle. Germans searched through their belonging, they confiscated all, the gold and whatever else. It was unexpected, early in the morning. All of them were loaded on truck, like cattle, they didn't care about the shouts, noise, they took all of our Jews to Pruzhany". Dackiewicz describes in detail the arresting of the Szuster and Krugman families, who lived on Zastawa (part of them was executed before): "And they started to deport the Jews. I saw one situation myself. A friend of mine - Tarasiewicz lived across the house of Szuster. We saw it from his house. There was an old shoemaker Leiba who lived with them. German has took him and his old wife by force on the truck. And before Szuster, there was a young Kruhman [3]. In another interview, telling the same situation, he adds: "I witnessed the deportation, I witnessed sexual harassment on our friend - the Szuster's daughter, her name was Ida, we called her Irena. There was a queue to her, and they were leaving with a laugh. And we were watching by the window at the friend's house across the street. Germans did not see us, there was a curtain on the windows. And the old men Srolik, who was retarded in some degree, they threw him and the old granny on the truck, like a log. And Idka, with the other daughter too, I can't remember her name. I remember Idka well; she was about my age, born 1929, or 1930, young, dark complexion; she was a fine girl. Next they walked her like she was drunk, by the hands, and she also was thrown to the truck and they deported them all".[5]

Zenaida Buszko remembers the deportation of Jews from Stoczek, especially her best friend - Roza [Rose], and the Kreszyn family, which lived together with Buszko family: "Roza was pretty, big dark eyes, long eyelashes, eyebrows, lovely tawny face, black hair and tails. (...) I just loved her, I couldn't have enough of looking at her. I remember when Germans arrived and took everyone, one by one. They drove down the Stoczek [Waszkiewicza street today], the truck was almost full. When they dragged out Chaim [a boy] and Kreszyn [his father], my mum quickly passed a litre of fresh milk for the child to Mrs Kreszyn. And I walked outside after them, and I noticed Roza sitting on the truck. And I screamed, 'Roza! Roza!' and I cried. The German gave me an asking look, why am I crying after some Jewish girl, I didn't looked like a Jew, my sister was, so sometimes they confused her with Jew, but I had blond hair, long tails and bright eyes. Jewish girls didn't look like me. And I'm standing at the gate screaming 'Roza! Roza!' She waved her hand to me. The German looked at me, and at the Roza, he was older, he looked like a just man, my mother passed the milk, and he didn't protest. Not all the Germans were like this. I cried a long time when they took the Roza away (...)" [9].

Arreted Jews were gathered in the Palace Park, in the centre of Białowieża, and selected. Women and children were deported to the ghetto, 77 men at the age between 16 up to 45 were executed at the gravel pit near "Jagiellonskie" the next day. In the Battalion's 322 logs, at 9th and 10th August we read:

August 9th, 1941

  • 0.00 Start of the evacuation of Jews in Bialowi(e)za. All male Jews aged 16 to 45 were arrested and brought to the assembly camp. All remaining Jews both sexes were evacuated in a lorry to Kobryn. The Jews had to leave behind everything in their homes apart from some hand-luggage. Confiscated articles of value were collected in Białowieża Hunting Lodge and handed over to the Ortskommandantur. The homes of the evacuated Jews were locked or boarded up.

August 10th, 1941

  • Emergency service and assigning the posts. Sunday relaxation. Liquidation of Jews housed in the Białowieża prison assembly camp. 77 male Jews aged 16 to 45 shot. Cloudy, quick rains. 5 Jewish tailors, 4 Jewish cobblers and 1 Jewish watchmaker were not shot since their labour was urgently required by the company [27].

The execution from 10th August 1941 is described by Symcha Burnstein: "In the end of September 1941 [the date is plainly mistaken, as all other sources publish the 9th of August at the time of this event] all the male Jews aged from 13 to 50 were separated from others and escorted to he Jagiellonskie forestry (2 km from town) and were shot with the series from machine gun" [10]. Bolesław Rychter says "And all others were gathered at the gravel pit, machine guns were placed around and they opened fire at the Jews" [1]. Jan Sawicki describes it the same: "Every man aged between 15 and 65 years were shot. Women and children were taken somewhere. Senior citizens and my father say they were taken to Kobryn" [8].

Borys Russko recalls that he and his friend Janek Tarasiewicz were in the forest picking mushrooms, after the deportation of Lubietkins. They were in the oak groove when they heard the car noise and the machine gun. They ran towards the village, passing by old villagers, who said that they saw Jews from Białowieża taken away on the truck [7]. Russko, describing this situation years after,  emphasises that some Białowieża residents grieved over deaths of their Jewish neighbours. "I was in the forest, because I liked it, and suddenly I heard the gunshots. While I was coming back home, I saw Michal Kozak standing by the cross in Podolany II, wipig the tears. So I ask him 'Why are you crying, gramps?' and he replies 'They took our Jews'. Germans shoot the men, in that gravel pit. Even the old man like this wept [after them]" [6]. Few weeks passed, Mr Russko went to the pit, where August 10th the Jews were executed. He saw the ground freshly dug. "These people probably were still moving in agony, because the ground was cracked," he said in the interview for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 [7].

Teodor Gniewszew also remembers the ban signs on the place of execution "I saw how they loaded two trucks of Jews, and they took them to the forest. They killed them there and buried in shallow graves. They put the ban signs at the place of execution, written in Polish, Russian and German" [44].


Waldemar Monkiewicz mentions some Jewish names of people executed on August 10th:

Alek, Bursztyn, Cynamon, Góra, Grabski, Heller, Icek, Krugman, Machman, Malecki, Narban, Nowokolski [16].

From the group of the young men selected for the execution in the gravel pit, 10 craftsman were spared (see above), because they were urgently needed to work for the Germans. According to Burnstein it was 15 people. Burnstein lists following names: "Kalman Jagodziński (cobbler), Szmul Heler (mechanic), Jankl [Jankiel] Szlajfer (tailor), Lajb Marleder [Leiba Machleder] (tailor), Mordechaj Ajzyk Fedelman (shoemaker), Alter Lajfan (cobbler), Welwel Szacherman (tailor) and others" [10].

Włodzimierz Dackiewicz also mentions it: "Why they kept those young Jews? To repair the road. They held those Jews in the red building by the river [in the building made of the red brick, situated between the bridge and the orphanage, where was the water mill after the liberation]. Germans brought Jewish men on the road and ordered them to repair it, so they did (...)" [3].

Bolesław Rychter also remembers, that some of the craftsmen were spared: "I recall one Jew, in whose yard I played football with my friends. He was a cobbler, apparently Germans needed him, so they kept him alive. I heard when they brought him here and gave him some work to do, but I don't know if he made it on time, or not. They probably ordered him to do it in impossible time, so surely he couldn't make it. When he didn't make it on time, they beat him terribly. And after this, he has disappeared without a trace. I heard him screaming and crying when they beat him. Maybe he was making shoes for the Germans, or something like it, they needed him so they kept him" [1].

No one knows how long those Jews remained in Białowieża. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz says: "I don't know how long they kept them there, maybe one month" [3]. Symcha Burnstein writes, that maybe it was four months [10].

The officers from a Battalion of 322 allowed the Jews to carry only the hand luggage during the deportation. In the battalion log, we read that "Confiscated articles of value were collected in Białowieża Hunting Lodge and handed over to the Ortskommandantur. The homes of the evacuated Jews were locked or boarded up" [27]. Many villagers remember the confiscation and the looting the Jewish property. Krawczyk says: "Germans took all the Jewish belongings" [39], Olszewski asked about repression lists "collective arrests connected with the confiscation and looting of property" [40]. Szpakowicz says: "the Jewish people's property was looted by the Germans" [43]. Some people, however, recalls that the property of Jews was plundered by the local villagers. Jadwiga Kilis testifies as saying the confiscation and looting of property "the local people took it" [41]. Wlodzimierz Dackiewicz describes it in a similar way: "The Jews selected for execution were robbed of gold, silver and everything valuable. Germans were not interested in dollars as they were worthless for them. Dollars were on his streets, and no one was interested in picked them. Germans were throwing them on the streets. People were taking windows and the doors of the Jewish houses, and the wind was blowing the dollars everywhere. Sometimes the Poles were demolishing the tile stoves in the houses of Jews, finding gold and silver there. Nobody was interested in dollars; Germans were burning them together with valuable documents. There was plenty of rubles and polish zloty from the times before the war. No one paid attention to this" [5]. Also in Pinkas HaKehilot we find a sentence: "German soldiers together with local villagers plundered the Jewish houses and looted their property" [26]. Borys Russko, says from the other side: "At the beginning, their houses were empty because Germans would shoot anyone who would try to break in" [6]. Zenaida Buszko says the same "Once they were taking the Jews, they locked the door and sealed it" [9], already after some time the Germans ordered to dismantle houses which were in bad shape (not only the Jews' houses), as Jan Sawicki says: "all the sheds, and the cabins" and they left only the solid building, where they moved the families whose houses were pulled down, and the workers from Grudki, who lived together in the primitive dugout shelters. Borys Russko, Wlodzimierz Dackiewicz and Jan Sawicki recalls that the Germans build one fence going all along the Stoczek Street for every house [8].

To the former house of Jewish family Lubietkin in Podolany has moved the family of the schutzpolice officer. Borys's Russko sister Olga made friends with Lidia - the daughter of the officer: "In September 1942, when we started to attend Mrs Wolska school, the D.D. family already lived in the house of Lubietkins" [30].

Germans also vandalised a synagogue and turned it into a grain warehouse. Jan Sawicki, who lived right next to the synagogue, says: "During the Nazi occupation of Germans threw everything out [from the synagogue] on a pile and burned it. The bonfire was burned from the river side. These scrolls [the Torah], and the rest was thrown on the back of the synagogue on piles. They even gathered the workers from the street and ordered them to throw everything out. Inside, there was an elevation with the balustrade and the entrance. Except for the high windows, there was nothing more. Walls were painted. And the rest was taken down, thrown outside and burned. The rollers [ejc chaim] were around on the ground. (...) The Germans stored the grain there. They loaded the plenty of grain" [8]. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz also remembers that "by the German occupation, they used the synagogue building as a warehouse" [3]. Michał Mincewicz, the local historian, writes: "During the German occupation there was a fodder storage (in the synagogue)" [31].



  1. Boleslaw Rychter, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 20th of May 2015;
  2. Aleksy Dackiewicz interviewed Katarzyna Winiarska, 10th of May 2015;
  3. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 9th of May 2015;
  4. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 21th of July 2015;
  5. Włodzimierz Dackiewicz interviewed by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, on 10/11/1998, RG-50.488 * 0051;
  6. Borys Russko, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 10th of March 2016;
  7. Borys Russko interviewed by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC on 07/09/1999, RG-50.488 * 0084;
  8. Jan Sawicki, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 15th of March 2016;
  9. Zinaida Buszko, interview by Katarzyna Winiarska, 24th of March 2016;
  10. The testimony of Smycha Burnstein, Jewish Historical Institute Archive 301/1269;
  11. The testimony of Symcha Burnstein, Jewish Historical Institute Archive 301/1269;
  12. The testimony of Joseph Blinder, Archive of the Jewish Historical Institute 311/1072;
  13. The testimony of Szyj Bortnowski, Jewish Historical Institute Archives 301/2256;
  14. The testimony of Gochmana Kalman, Jewish Historical Institute Archives 301/5653;
  15. Testimony from the "Short history of Pruzhany ghetto", Jewish Historical Institute Archives 301/7225;
  16. Waldemar Monkiewicz, "Nazi Crimes in Hajnówka and neighbouring area", District Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok, Association of the Friends of Hajnówka city, 1982;
  17. Monkiewicz Waldemar, Zbrodnie hitlerowskie w Białowieży, Białowieża- Białystok 1981;
  18. Monkiewicz  Waldemar, Białowieża w cieniu swastyki, Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1984;
  19. Leszczyński Kazimierz, War Journal of the Police Battalion 322, "The bulletin of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland", Volume XVII 1967;
  20. Death Books from Auschwitz Remnats, Reports, K.G.Saur, 1995;
  21. Polish Jews in Auschwitz: name lists, S. Mączka, M Prokopowicz, the Jewish Historical Institute, 2004;
  22. Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Volume I, ed. Sh. Spector, New York 2001, p. 138;
  23. Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933-45, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, vol. II, 2009 Keyword: Prużana
  24. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, ed. Israel Gutman, New York 1990;
  25. Encyclopedia of the Ghettos during Holocaust, Guy Miron vol II, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2009, s. 324-325 part I
  26. Pinkas HaKehilot, Poland, Vol. 8 (2005), p. 139-140: "Białowieża"
  27. "The Good Old Days": The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders  pod redakcją Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess, Konecky&Konecky 1988;
  28. Encyclopedia of the Hajnówka city http://Hajnó
  29. Olga Szurkowska, "Traces in memory. My recollections." Otwock;
  30. Szurkowska O., "Dzieje białowieskiej rodziny," Białowieża 2001
  31. Michał Mincewicz, Puszczanckija jaurei, Niwa, 10/09/2006;
  32. Jewish Virtual Library
  33. Ilya Aleksandrowicz  Altman, "Holokost na territory SSSR" Moscow 2009, s. 821-822 za: Virtual Shtetl, Keyword: Getto w Prużanie in:;
  34. Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, Leonidas Donskis, The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004 , s.274;
  35. The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry, Ilya Ehrenburg, Vasily Grossman, New Brunswick (USA) and London (UK), 2002, s. 173;
  36. Pinkas Pruzany. A chronicle of the destroyed jewish communities of the town of Pruzana, Bereza, Malcz, Scherschev and Seltz, ed. Morecai W. Bernstein, Buenos Aires-Argentina 1958;
  37. Pinkas Pruz'any and its vicinity. Chronicle of six communities perished in the Holocaust, ed. Joseph Friedlander, Tel Aviv 1983
  38. Watson Leah,  "Shereshev. A Compendium", unpublished in the possession of the author, p. 711;
  39. Institute of National Remembrance Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok DS 296/68 testimony of Aleksander Krawczuk;
  40. Institute of National Remembrance Bi 1/1946 testimony of. Aleksander Olszewski;
  41. Institute of National Remembrance Bi 1/1946 testimony of. Kilis Jadwiga;
  42. Institute of National Remembrance, Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok DS 296/68 testimony of Roman Dron
  43. IPN Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok DS 296/68 testimony of Cyryl Szpakowicz;
  44. Institute of National Remembrance, Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok DS 296/68 testimony of Teodor Gniewszew;
  45. Institute of National Remembrance Bi 1/1946, a testimony of. Teodor Gniewszew and Dziewięcka Eugenia;