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Białystok Ghetto: Wikis

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Ghettos in occupied Poland (marked with red-gold stars)

According to the terms of the German-Soviet Pact of 1939, Białystok, a city in northeastern Poland, was assigned to the Soviet zone of occupation. Soviet forces entered Białystok in September 1939, it later became part of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The German army occupied the city in June 1941 following the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In the early days of the German occupation, Einsatzgruppe (mobile killing unit) detachments and Order Police battalions rounded up and killed thousands of Jews in Białystok.

Bialystok ghetto, 1941-1943

In August 1941, the Germans ordered the establishment of a ghetto in Białystok. About 50,000 Jews from the city and the surrounding region were confined in a small area of Białystok city. The ghetto had two sections, divided by the Biala River. Most Jews in the Białystok ghetto worked in forced-labor projects, primarily in large textile factories located within the ghetto boundaries. The Germans also sometimes used Jews in forced-labor projects outside the ghetto.

In February 1943, approximately 10,000 Białystok Jews were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp. During the deportations, hundreds of Jews, mainly those deemed too weak or sick to travel, were killed.

In August 1943, the Germans mounted an operation to destroy the Białystok ghetto. German forces and local police auxiliaries surrounded the ghetto and began to round up Jews systematically for deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp. Approximately 7,600 Jews were held in a central transit camp in the city before deportation to Treblinka. Those deemed fit to work were sent to the Majdanek camp. In Majdanek, after another screening for ability to work, they were transported to the Poniatowa, Blizyn, or Auschwitz camps. Those deemed too weak to work were murdered at Majdanek. More than 1,000 Jewish children were sent first to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Bohemia, and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were killed.

During the August 1943 deportations, when all hope for survival within the ghetto was abandoned, the ghetto underground staged an uprising against the Germans. More than a hundred Jews managed to escape from the ghetto and join partisan groups in the Białystok area.

The Soviet army liberated Białystok in August 1944.

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