Музей еврейского сопротивления на Новогрудчине

partisan_group.jpgThe memorial exhibition devoted to the Jewish resistance in the area of Novogrudok during the Holocaust was opened in the town of Novogrudok, 64, Minskaya street on July 24, 2007. The exhibition is situated in one of the buildings of the vocational school # 193 which used to be a living barrack for ghetto prisoners during the war. It is about the tragedy that took away lives of 90% of the Novogrudok Jewish community members (there had been more than 6000 people in it before the war) and about unprecedented resistance to the Nazi policy of annihilation of those who remained alive after the four massacres.

On September 26, 1943 prisoners of the Novogrudok ghetto accomplished an organized escape through the tunnel which they had been digging in the course of four months. This act of mass resistance is the most successful one in the occupied Europe among numerous attempts to resist death. As one of the survivors – Jack (Idel) Kagan – states “it could take place only in Belarus and in no other country”. The success of the escape had several reasons but the main one was the existence of the Jewish partisan detachment in the area of Novogrudok.

It was formed in June 1942 by the Bielski brothers who were born and lived on a farm in the village of Stankevichi in 15 km from Novogrudok where they had a flower mill. By 1944 it was the most numerous Jewish partisan detachment in Europe occupied by the Nazis. The commander of the detachment, Tuvia Bielski, established contacts with the ghettos in Novogrudok, Lida, Ivye and some other smaller towns in order to take out Jews to the forest. He took in everybody – the young, the old and children – those who were eager to fight and those who were not able to carry a gun. He gave everybody a chance to survive. He valued one Jewish life saved higher than ten enemies killed. And this was in the circumstances when life cost nothing, and Jewish life cost even less. This aim distinguishes the Bielski detachment not only from other partisan groups in Belarus but makes it remarkable in the European Jewish resistance movement in general. More than 1 300 people joined the Bielskis during the war, about 1 200 of them survived the war.

The memorial exhibition includes two rooms with the reconstructed barrack interior and the exhibition with the reconstructed tunnel entrance. The exhibition presents organizers and participants of the tunnel construction, it contains names and information available about all the prisoners who escaped through the tunnel. The Bielski detachment as part of the Soviet partisan movement (Baranovichi underground Central committee of the Communist Party of (Bolsheviks) Belarus), local citizens who helped Jews to survive the Holocaust, other participants of the resistance movement – Soviet and Polish – with whom Bielski partisans were in contact are presented as well.

There is a memorial sign, several buildings where there used to be workshops for the ghetto prisoners and a well on the territory of the memorial site.

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© Museum of Jewish Resistance in Novogrudok