Vileyka (Wilejka, Vileika) | Minsk

Members of Hashomer Haleumi, Vielyka 1930. The seven immigrated to Israel and maintained close ties. ©Taken from Zipora and her brother Gershon Kaliko with their cousin Feigel Sobol (on the left) in Vileyka in 1937. Only Gershon survived the Holocaust. ©Taken from The Lapidot family in 1932. Shmuel and Sosia (nee Kopelovitz)  Avraham, Nachum, Hedva. ©Taken from Vileykas’ first nursery school class with their teacher, Chana Shir- 1924. ©Taken from Zvi-Hirschel Kaliko, Tzipora-Feigel Kaliko and Gershon Kaliko at the entrance to their home in Vileyka on May 10, 1936. ©Taken from Herzelia school in Vileyka. Children, teachers and public figures. 1925. ©Taken from Members of the Vileyka orchestra in 1930. The three Ruderman brothers in the orchestra: top row, first on the left is Osher Ruderman; second row, first on the right is Grisha Ruderman; first row Ellia Ruderman. ©Taken from 1932, Vileyka Zionist parade for keren Kayemet L’Israel by the Kaidanov Chassid’s synagogue. ©Taken from The first district wide congress of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) in Vileyka. Photographed in 1934. ©Taken from Today the prison building is an oncological dispensary. During the German occupation, the prison was the execution site of Jews in Vileyka. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Grigoriy Ch., born in 1928, knew one family that was burned. Later on, dead bodies were brought by trucks to the same place and burned. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Inside a witness’ house. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Valentina V., born in 1929, saw scenes of beating and humiliation. The Germans and policemen sent the Jews to dig a quarry just next to the camp. Jews were not given spades and had to work with their bare hands. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum Execution site outside the village of Porsa, north-west of Vileyka. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The site where the Jews’ corpses were burned. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The execution place of Jews in Vileyka. Today it is a forest just next to the former village of Stavki, the same as it was before. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum The site where the corpses of Jews from Vileyka were reburied. ©Jethro Massey/Yahad - In Unum

Execution of Jews and non-Jews in Vileyka

2 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
Over 1,500

Witness interview

Nina B., born in 1926: "The Jews were brought in groups of five, ten or twenty people to the shooting site on the hill near the dairy farm and Jewish cemetery. I saw several columns being led away, escorted by policemen, while the Germans in green uniforms were taking photographs at the site. There was a long ditch. The Jews were shot there and then burned. That lasted for two months, in summer and autumn of 1942. After the shooting, I heard Germans saying several times: “Juden Kaput.” (Testimony n°914, interviewed in Vileyka on June 26, 2016)

Soviet archives

“The execution of Belarusian, Russian and Jewish population took place on July 13, 1941. On July 10, 1941, at 2 p.m., all the men of Vileyka received an order to come to the Jewish school located on the 17th September Street, close to the river. At this time, there had been no mass shooting and no one suspected anything. The men came with shovels as they were ordered. Once gathered, the men were lined up in the column, eight in a row. It was announced that they would be taken to dig the anti-tank ditches around the town. The men marched calmly. They were taken in the direction of the Stavki village. As the stationary bridge was burned by Soviets at the moment of the withdrawal of the troops, the column went across a small temporary bridge constructed a little further down river, 300 meters away. At this moment, I was in my yard. When we saw the column, the other villagers such as Aleksandr S., Yevgenia P., and I went closer. But when Y., who guarded the column, along with ten Germans, saw us, he chased us away. We stepped back but we could still see the column when it turned in the direction of the field. There were 5 pits in the field that had been dug in advance and 4 machine guns which had been hidden. Once on the site, the guards took a certain number of rows and line up the men at the edge of the pit. I saw Y. lying down behind the machine gun. When the victims saw that, they rushed in different direction attempting to escape into the forest, but they were shot dead on the spot with the machine gun. Then, the Germans and Y. dragged the corpses from the forest and threw them into the pits. When Germans saw me, they chased me away. At 7 p.m. I saw Germans coming back to the town. By 9 p.m. I returned to the site, but the pits had been already filled in with sand.” [Deposition of a local witness Nina A., taken by State Extraordinary Commission; RG 22.002M. Fond 7021, Opis 83, Delo 3]

German archives

"The first Aktion took place in Vileyka in February 1942. (…) With other men of my unit, I received the order to take the Jews out from the ghetto. They were gathered in the open ground and killed with a gun in the nape of the neck. (…). There were women, men and children (…). After the shooting, gasoline was poured on the corpses and they were burned. The Jews were dressed, none of them were undressed. After this Aktion, a few Jewish artisans remained in Vileyka. All Jewish valuables were taken from their homes and stocked in the attic.” [Deposition of Georg H., taken on February 16, 1962 during the trial; B162-1294, B162-1295.]

Historical note

Vileyka is located 100 km northwest of Minsk on the right bank of the Viliya River. In 1897, there were 1,328 Jews in the town. The majority of them lived of small trade. There was a Jewish elementary Tarbut school. Later, all Jews went to the secondary school alongside local non-Jews. In the course of the history there were three synagogues, but they were destroyed at different moments. A couple of movements, including the Zionist movement, and other organizations operated in Vileyka but they were forbidden under the Soviet rule. Due to immigration the Jews population decreased and numbered about 1,000 Jews on the eve of the war. Vilyeka was occupied by German forces on June 26, 1941. About 10% of prewar Jewish population had managed to escape by that time. 

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The executions started immediately after the German invasion. The first anti-Jewish Aktion was conducted on July 12, 1941. That day, all men aged 15 to 60 years old were confined in a synagogue building. They were ordered to bring all their valuables under pain of death. Once they came back, skilled workers were selected and sent home while others, 140 Jews and 10-13 Belarusians, were marched 2 km away from the town to the village of Stavki, where they were shot. The Aktion was conducted by Sondercommando 7a helped by local police. According to different sourcesn there were somewhere between 140 and 300 victims.

On July 30, 1941, about 400 Jews were driven to the village of Porsa and shot by Sondercommando 9. Meanwhile all Jews were marked with Star of David and forbidden from walking on the sidewalks and visiting public places. By December 1941, three separate ghettos and labor camps were established in Vileyka and housed not only local Jews but also those brought from the nearby villages, such as Kurenets, Krivichi, and Miadel. According to historical sources and local residents, some of ghettos were fenced in. Apparently, there was a children’s ghetto which was fenced in but not guarded created in the early 1942. All Jews fit to work were forced to perform hard physical work, like road construction and clearing rubble from streets.

The next two executions where conducted in early February and March 1942. These executions were conducted by SD members. During the execution in March, the Jews were shot and their bodies were burned in order to hide the traces of the crime.

In August 1942, the main ghetto was reorganized and another small ghetto for craftsmen was created. In September 1942, hundreds of artisans were brought to this ghetto from nearby villages, including Shchuchin. Some of the Jews from the main ghetto were killed during the summer near Lysaya Gora.

On November 7, 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto was conducted. All the Jews were taken to a manor in Lavrinovich and burned alive. About 300 Jews were killed that day, but there were still Jews in Vileyka working for the Germans. Many Jews managed to flee to the forest and join partisans groups. Small executions continued until late June 1944, when the last laborers and skilled workers were shot along with the non-Jewish prisoners.  Among them were the workers transferred from Molodechno in mid-July 1943.  

Nearby villages

To support the work of Yahad-in Unum please consider making a donation

Do you have additional information regarding a village that you would like to share with Yahad ?

Please contact us at
or by calling Yahad – In Unum at +33 (0) 1 53 20 13 17