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The place of execution of the Jews of Dukora shtetl in November 1941 is located behind the bridge over the Svisloch River, between Svisloch and the road Smilovichi-Dukora-Rudensk. The monument was set up in 1960.

Vasily Nikitovich Svistun.
Vasily Nikitovich

The story told by Vasily Nikitovich Svistun, born 1927, local history expert.

I was born in Dukora, finished seven-year school. There lived many Jews in the shtetl, about five hundred people. There was an elementary Jewish school. Starting from the fifths grade, children went to comprehensive school. I remember a small girl in our class, Anya Shusterman. As for the surnames of the others, I forgot. The class teacher was a good organizer. We did everything together, without paying attention to nationality.

According to not really accurate data, Jews settled in the shtetl in the 1850s. Before that date there had lived many Tatars. Being in debt, our landowner had to give part of his property to another landowner, the grandfather of composer Monyushko. When the land was transferred, the Tatars left for Smilovichi and its surrounding territories. These lands also belonged to Monyushko, and almost half the population was the Tatars. Jews took the place of the Tatars. The Jewish school was opened in the late 19th century.

The Tatars were gardeners and leatherworkers. The Jews handled all the trade and craft. There was a barbershop, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors. There was a synagogue. Nothing’s left. There is a Jewish cemetery and the place of execution.

Only a small part of Jews was evacuated. Some men, of course, were in the army. The rest remained in the shtetl.

When the Germans occupied the shtetl, the Jews were herded together. The houses were surrounded by the fence and guarded by the police. The Jews were forbidden to leave the territory and they didn’t work. The Jews were settled in the ghetto in August, and on October 10 they were shot.

The place of execution of the Jews of Dukora shtetl in November 1941. The place of execution of the Jews of Dukora shtetl in November 1941.
The place of execution of the Jews of Dukora shtetl in November 1941.

Four trucks with soldiers arrived to carry out shooting. Nobody knows exactly whether the Germans or the policemen did that, but they say that part of the soldiers who arrived was a punitive Lithuanian detachment from Minsk.

They came, surrounded the ghetto, kicked out all the Jews into the street and convoyed them to the river. There the machine guns had already been prepared. The Jews carried children in their arms. They walked quietly, I would say.

They went for about a kilometer to the place of execution. Then Jews were brought into line and shot.

All the Jews were killed. Later, the Germans shot the wounded. They made the Belarusians bury the dead bodies. It’s not known how many people were killed. About four hundred. Nobody made lists of the killed.

One Jew, named Kuhel, aged 82, tried to escape. Two girls of six or eight followed him. They ran away into the woods. On the very edge of the woods there were special buildings for drying flax. They were hiding there. Everybody knew that. People gave them food and didn’t disclose them. They lived there for two weeks. Kuhel surrendered himself. He came with two girls to the commandant’s office. The commander gave the order to shoot all three of them.

They were taken about a hundred meters away from the commandant's office, put on the edge of the pit and killed. One girl was killed with a struck of a shovel on the head. The second girl tried to run, but was shot.

Shuhman from the Ryazhin village was hiding and didn’t get into the ghetto. After the mass shooting he went to the partisans. He died there.

The monument was set up by Jews in about 1956. The collective farm Chairman, Abram Moiseevich (I can’t remember his name), dealt with the matter. In Minsk Jews from Dukora shtetl collected funds.

Recorded and photos
by Alexander Litin

Jewish settlements in Minsk region

MinskBerezinoBobrBorisov DolginovoDukoraDzerzhinsk Ivenets Myadel NesvizhObchuga Pogost Rakov Seliba Slutsk Svir Uhvaly Vileika

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