Reading the battalion 322 action log, we may conclude that the Jews from Białowieża were deported to the Kobryn ghetto (the photocopy of the original log ais published in the book "The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders". In the Polish translation of the log by K. Leszczynski this crucial information was omitted). However, in the collected testimonies, the recollections of the whiteness, so as in some publications where the Jews from Białowieża are mentioned, there are two ghettos mentioned: in Kobryn and Prhuzany. Names of the Jews from Białowieża are also found on the lists of people from Pruzhany ghetto who were detained in Auschwitz. However, sometimes the person interviewed mentioned the ghettos in Bielsk and Bialystok, but there are many "maybe", "I think so" in the answers, and there are no evidence to prove it.

According to my research of the sources, and according to the memory of David Waldshan, alive Survivor from Bialowieza, it turns out, that the group of the Jews from Białowieża was deported to the ghetto in Kobryn, but some of them (whose had relatives in Pruzhany) were then moved to Pruzhany.

Symcha Burnstein writes: "Women, children along with the old men were transported by trucks to Kobryn, and nearby Antopol, where all went a hard way until the final liquidation, which took place at the beginning of autumn in 1942" [10], in turn, Wlodzimierz Dackiewicz says "they were taken to Pruzhany and Bielsk" [3], Borys Russko: "My father and the old people were saying, that they were taken to Kobryn" [6], Józef Blinder, who spend the war in Kobryn at his parents house, mentions about execution of 300 Jews during the round-up, and also says "The men from the neighbouring Białowieża also were executed [in Białowieża], and women and children were transported to Kobryn" [12].

Aaron Weiss, in the note about Kobryn published in Jewish Virtual Library, writes: "Jews from the neighbouring towns of Hajnówka and Białowieża were also brought to the ghetto, which was greatly overcrowded" [32]. In The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos during the Holocaust we can read: "When the Jews from Białowieża and Hajnówka were brought to the ghetto, its population rose to about 8,000 people" [25].

The already mentioned Józef Blinder also writes that in Kobrin "Gebietskommissar Panzer demanded 200 patients who would be taken to the Pruhzany. The municipality officers had made a list, but instead the patients there were healthy people, who were mostly from Białowieża. These people were taken by Germans to the Strągowa village and executed" [12]. Unfortunately it is impossible to estimate the exact location where the execution took place, as there are no records about Strągowa village in the vicinity of Kobryn. However, this event has its record in The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos during the Holocaust. It says that few weeks after the ghetto was organised in November 1941, Germans has murdered few hundreds of sick and elderly people and children. But it is not determined where these executions took place [25]. At the beginning of 1942, the Germans has divided the ghetto to ghetto-A, where they settled the skilled workers with families and ghetto-B, where the rest of the Jews were placed. Also, a few hundred young people were placed in the labour camp outside Kobryn. The residents of ghetto-B (approximately 3000 people) were executed July 27, 1942, in Brona Gora.

October 15, 1942, Germans had liquidated the ghetto-A - at the southern outskirts of Kobryn, today Targowa Street, the Nazi executed about 4250 people. During the liquidation of the Kobryn ghetto, some residents of the ghetto had attempted to raise an armed resistance, some of them managed to escape to the forest and join the partisans.

However, not all Jews from Białowieża died in Kobryn. It is proven that some part of them stayed in the ghetto in Pruzhany as a result of resettlement by the Germans and maybe also as a consequence of the group escape from the ghetto liquidation in Kobrin. Symcha Burnstein writes: "that in January 1942 all the craftsmen [who were arrested in Bialowieza for work for Germans], were released from work and given permissions to go to their families. Some of them took their families to Pruzhany, where they settled in the local ghetto" [10].

The arrival of Jews from Białowieża to the ghetto in Pruzhany is confirmed in The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos: "Additional Jewish refugees arrived in Prużana [Pruzhany] during 1941 and 1942, having escaped the anti-Jewish violance and the liquidation of entire Jewish communities in Reichskommisariat Ukraine, including from Bereza Kartuska and Kobryń, Linowo, Małecz, and Sielec, where the Germans had murdered almost all Jews by December 1942. Among the Kobryń refugees were a substantial number of women and children from the Białowieża Forest communities of Białowieża and Narewka, deported there between August 13 and 15, 1941" [23].

In the Altman's book we can find following information: "Starting from autumn 1941, in following months, Pruzhany was inhabited by 6500 Jews deported from Bialystok, Białowieża, Stowbtsy, Nowy Dwór, Kamyanyets, Byaroza, Shereshev, Bludeń, Malecz, Slonim, Iwaceiwcze, and from the other places. There were around 18000 people in total" [33]. In the book "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews" we read: "From Autumn 1941 to spring 1942, around 45000 of Jews from Bialystok was deported to Pruzhany, also 2000 of Jews from Białowieża, Hajnówka and Narewka". [34]. An anonymous testimony, found in the book "The Short history of the ghetto in Pruzhany" says: "In the first weeks the Jews from the near cities Białowieża, Hajnówka, Shereshev, Narewka, Malecz and other, were brought" [15].

Doctor Olga Goldfain, (who escaped from the transport to Auschwitz from Pruzhany ghetto) recalls that October 10 the relocation of Jews was announced, and she moved to the selected ghetto area on October 25: "In next six weeks the Jews from Bialystok arrived in the big number (5000). At the same time Jews from other towns and villages were moving into the ghetto with the rest of us: Jews from Belovezh [means: Bialowieża], Gainovka [Hajnówka], Novy Dvor, Zabludov, Kamenets, Bluden, Malech, Shereshevo, Bereza, Slonim, and other places" [35]. Moishe Kantorowicz, the survivor, who lived in Shereshev, mentions the exact number of the people from Białowieża, when describes the arrival of the next group of Jews: "Shershev people were first taken to Antipole and Drogichin although another hundred or hundred and twenty or so, like my family, managed to come directly to Pruzany. The people from Bielovezia [Białowieża], about a hundred people, were brought straight there as well" [38].

Alexander Krawczuk, in his testimony before the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Bialystok says, that after the execution of the Jewish men in Białowieża, he went to ghetto in Pruzhany, to bring the food to widow after his murdered Jewish friend Krugman: "After the execution of men and boys, the Germans had taken away the Jewish women and children. They took them to the ghetto in Pruzhany. The Jewish property was stolen by Germans. I was also visiting the Ghetto in Pruzhany, to deliver the food to the family of Krugman, who was already murdered that time. I've heard that the Jews suffered from hunger in the ghetto, so I delivered them food to help. Krugman's wife informed me that her husband was executed at the gravel pit. Also, other Jewish women in the ghetto were complaining about grief that their husbands and sons were executed. The ghetto was guarded by Germans, who had their post by the special barrier, which worked as a gate. With unknown reason, I was let in, and I've found Krugman's wife. The ghetto was overcrowded with starving people. Krugman's wife desperately asked me for food, but I was afraid of Germans, who punished severely those who helped the Jews" [39].

The occupation authorities issued a decision to transform the Pruzhany into the city: "with Jewish population only", that's the reason of the number of deportation from other cities and villages to Pruzhany. As a result, the ghetto in Pruzhany was inhabited by about 18000 people, the greatest problems were hunger and the crowd. 6000 people died at the turn of 1941, and 1942, in the result of starvation, diseases and freezing [33]. In the ghetto the resistance movement was formed, which eventually led the people to the partisan in the forest.

Between January 28 - February 1, 1943, all the Jews from the Pruzhany ghetto were divided into four groups and transported to Auschwitz. Transports departed from Orańczyce (Arańczyce) station near Linowo. 100 - 150 Jews were usually put the single railway waggon, normally used for cattle transport. 9161 people in total were carried in four rounds from Pruzhany to Auschwitz. After two days of travel in inhuman conditions, the selection was made immediately after arrival. Only 300 men and 150-200 women out of 2,5 thousand of people, who arrived in each transport were sent to Birkenau and Brzezinka; the others immediately were executed in the gas chambers. 1,675 people (1,183 men and 492 women) were detained in the camp; the other 7486 people were gassed upon arrival [23; 36; 37].

The lists of the victims of Auschwitz gives information about the arrival of following transports:

  • 01/31/1943, 2450 Polish Jews were brought with RSHA transport from the ghetto Pruzhany. After selection 249 men have been given numbers 98516-98764, 32 women were given numbers 33326-33357.
  • 30/01/1943, 2612 Jews were brought from the ghettos in Wolkowysk and Pruzhany. After selection, they sent to the camp of 327 men marking them with numbers 97825-98151, and 275 women who were given numbers 32004, and 32884-33152.
  • 31/01/1943, 2834 Jews were brought from the ghetto in Pruzhany. After selection 313 men were sent to the camp, giving them number 98778-99087, and 180 women with numbers 33358-33537
  • 02/02/1943, 1265 Jews were brought from the ghetto in Pruzhany to Auschwitz-Birkenau. After selection, 294 men with numbers 99211-99504 and 105 women with numbers 33928-34032 were detained in camp [21].

The name lists only occasionally denotes the place, where the prisoner comes from, or where they were born. The records from the Auschwitz archives reveals only a few Jews from Białowieża: Klejnerman Szloma, Machleder Lejba, Bursztejn Mina Sara, Golberg Rywa, Goldberg Szaja, and Malecki Israel (who survived Auschwitz). The lists of the Jews sent to Auschwitz from Pruzhany ghetto also reveals names of other people, who were probably from Białowieża.

Among Israel Malecki there were few other survivors from Bialowieza. Two of them returned to Białowieża after War and then move out to Israel [5; 9]. Since then no Jew lives in Białowieża. Descendants of Jews from Białowieża, who emigrated before The Second World War, live now all over the World. There is still one alive Survivor from Bialowieza - David Waldshan in USA. 

Critique of previous studies


  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://Hajnówka.strefa.pl/
  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: www.sztetl.org.pl;
  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;