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Lev Polykovsky

Konstantin Karpekin

Lev Polykovsky


Lev Polykovsky in the Jewish cemetery in Bogushevsk.
Lev Polykovsky in the Jewish cemetery in Bogushevsk.

Bogushevsk is a small town located 38 kilometers away from Senno and 42 kilometers away from Vitebsk.

Before the war the town focused mainly on three production spheres: furniture, shoe heels and confectionery. There was a club with amateur hobby groups, a string orchestra and a drama group. Bogushevsk Theater was founded in 1929 and headed by Boris Naumovich Sorochkin.

On the first days of the war, after fascist attacks, the town railway station and warehouses were burnt down; enormous damage was done to the central part of the town. Bogushevsk was occupied by Germans from July 11th, 1941 to June 25th, 1944.

On the 14th day of the war a gibbet was erected by fascists on the central square of Bogushevsk. The first victim to be hanged there was a regional prosecutor, P. Voronov, who had not evacuated in time. Then the Nazis pulled down a statue of Stalin and nailed Magen Davids to all the houses where Jews lived.

Several villages in Bogushevsk region had been burnt by July, 1941: Goloshakino, Zastenok, Naviazki, Tesy.

Bogushevsk furniture factory and alcohol factory were destroyed during the war.

Raisa Kastelanskaya next to the memorial to the executed Jews. Jewish cemetery in Bogushevsk.
Raisa Kastelanskaya next to the memorial
to the executed Jews. Jewish cemetery in Bogushevsk.

It is known that in Bogushevsk woods there was a work camp with about 12,000 prisoners. These people were used as workforce for building defense constructions and as “human shield” at the front line. They were eventually liberated by the Soviet Army. 8.000 people survived, the rest died of numerous diseases or were shot.

On August 28th, 1941 there was a meeting of Bogushevsk partisan detachment. They drafted a plan of attack on Bogushevsk. The detachment, headed by I.F. Belayev and a group of Soviet military men were committed to carry out the attack. However, Ivan Belayev started the operation a day earlier than planned, without the other detachment.

On September 4th the main group attacked the German garrison, murdered 12 Germans, destroyed their cars, took significant trophies and documents and came back to the base.

At the same time four cars with Germans were moving on a highway towards Bogushevsk. One of them blew up on a mine and the rest were shot by partisans from Gapontsev’s detachment. An occupation newspaper in Vitebsk stated that Bogushevsk had been attacked by a detachment consisting of a thousand people, armed with tanks, artillery, mortars and machineguns.

Opening of memorial dedicated to executed Bogushevsk residents.
Opening of memorial dedicated
to executed Bogushevsk residents.

Immediately after that attack Germans came back to Bogushevsk, collected 300 people on the square. They announced that if they did not tell who had planted that mine, they would shoot all the men. Then their plans changed and they ordered Jews to stand out in a separate group. At that moment people realized something horrible was going to happen and they began to scatter. All of them were killed with a machinegun. Thus, on September 5th, 1941 fascists shot more than 70 Jews and Russians, among them 10 babies.

Maria Timofeyevna Garnak recalls: “By the time the Germans invaded, many Jews had already left Bogushevsk.

The rest of the people were gathered in August, 1941, for an execution. I remember the Nazis convoyed a Jewish family – a watch repairer and his wife. He was wearing socks, no shoes. I did not see the execution but I heard more than 60 Jews were shot.

There were no Jews left in Bogushevsk after that execution. After the war the victims’ remains were put into black coffins and transported to a park in the town center. Here they were re-buried and a memorial was set up in their memory.”

By the way, the memorial does not even have a plate with the execution date and the number of the victims.

Ivan Anisimovich Bykov recollects: “47 Jews and 2 Russian families were executed by a ditch near the dairy factory in August, 1941. Belarusian men and teenagers were brought here and made to observe the execution. The Germans used two machineguns and then later finished off the wounded. One boy managed to escape, the rest were murdered.”

According to documentary evidence, one of the victims was Abram Mikhailovich Molshevich.

Memorial dedicated to executed Bogushevsk residents.
Memorial dedicated to executed Bogushevsk residents.
Memorial dedicated to executed Bogushevsk residents.

The memorial, which was set up in the Jewish cemetery in Bogushevsk, has a plate which states that 87 Jews were shot on September 5th, 1941. There is evidence that Tlezina Gnesina, who was hanged on the same day because she refused to be a fascist’s lover, was also buried here. Yakov Davidovich Krivosheyev was shot by fascists on July 9th, 1943 and buried here.

The memorial was set up by a former Bogushevsk resident Bliakhman Pavel Pikhailovich, whose wife was shot on September 5th, 1941.

After the war the town had to be reconstructed. People started coming back from evacuation. At first they had to live in ground shelters and later moved into new houses.

The following families came back to Bogushevsk from evacuation: Avsisher, Aronov, Asman, Blinchik, Bolotin, Boroda, Gozin, Genin, Dvorkin, Yeleinik, Yefremov, Kliatz, Krivosheyev, Kulik, Kunin, Levit, Leikin, Meyerson, Nosovsky, Ozer, Pevzner, Plis, Polykovsky, Romanov, Ronin, Sverdlov, Sorochkin, Feldsherovich, Khanin, Shakhmeister, Shvainshtein, Sherman, Shefter, Yakobson.

Today only a few Jews are left in Bogushevsk: Kuznetsova, Shpakovski, Ronina and Raskina.

Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

Vitebsk Albrehtovo Babinovichi Baran Bayevo Begoml Beshenkovichi Bocheikovo Bogushevsk Borkovichi Braslav Bychiha Chashniki Disna Dobromysli Dokshitsy Druya Dubrovno Glubokoye Gorodok Kamen Kohanovo Kolyshki Kopys Krasnopolie Kublichi Lepel Liady Liozno Lukoml Luzhki Lyntupy Miory Obol Oboltsy Orsha Osintorf Ostrovno Parafianovo Plissa Polotsk Prozorki Senno Sharkovshina Shumilino Sirotino Slaveni Smolyany Surazh Tolochin Ulla Verhnedvinsk Vidzy Volyntsy Yanovichi Yezerishe Zhary Ziabki

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