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Minsk Marks Anniversary Of Jewish Massacre By Nazis

The Yama memorial in MInsk
The Yama memorial in MInsk
MINSK -- Belarusian officials, foreign diplomats, and former inmates of Nazi concentration camps gathered in Minsk to mark the 68th anniversary of a massacre of Jews, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The ceremony was held March 2 near Minsk's Yama (the Ditch) memorial to commemorate the more than 5,000 people from the city's Jewish ghetto who were killed by Nazis on March 2, 1942.

Leanid Levin, the chairman of the Jewish Organizations' Association in Belarus, told RFE/RL that during Soviet times officials were reluctant to reveal what Jews in Minsk had experienced during World War II. But he said the mood in the country has changed, and in 2000 it became possible to erect a memorial at the massacre site.

Historian Emannuil Yoffe told RFE/RL that about 100 former residents of the Jewish ghetto in Minsk are still alive.

Yoffe said there were several uprisings against Nazis in Jewish ghettos in Belarus in the 1940s in towns such as Kletsk, Nyasvisk, and Kapylsk.

He said the Nazis established a total of some 150 Jewish ghettos during their occupation, and that almost 100,000 Jews were killed in Minsk alone.

Levin said there are still no memorials at many other sites in Belarus where massacres of Jews took place. He said more than 500 such places are known.