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The Dzyatlava massacre (Zhetel massacre, Diatłowo massacre, Dziatława massacre) was a part of the Holocaust. The local German gendarmerie, a Lithuanian unit and a Belorussian defence battalion surrounded the Belarusian village Diatłowo and demanded the Jews to leave their houses.[1] The victims were then stretched out face down on the main town square. With the break of dawn, a gas van entered the village. The Jews were transported by lorries away from the town. About 1,500 were shot dead at a distance.[2][3]

The massacres

The 1st massacre

On April 29, 1942, the Germans arrested the Judenrat and at dawn on April 30, the ghetto inmates were woken by shots inside the ghetto. The Germans announced through the Judenrat that all the Jews were to go to the old cemetery, which was situated within the ghetto boundaries. At the same time the Germans along with their local Belarusian and Lithuanian collaborators began to drive the Jews out of their houses, beating, kicking, and shooting those who were reluctant to obey.[1] A selection was then carried out: women, children, and the old were sent to the left, the young skilled workers to the right.

About 1,200 of those sent to the right were marched along the streets to the Kurpiasz Forest on the southern edge of town, where some pits had been prepared in advance. There the Germans shot them in groups of twenty. During the course of the shooting the German district commissar appeared and released those who had a certificate stating their profession as well as their families. Thus about one hundred returned to the ghetto. The massacre was conducted by the German and local Belorussian police forces.[1]

The 2nd massacre

The second massacre started in August 10, 1942, and lasted for three days as many Jews hid in prepared bunkers.[1] During the course of the clearance of the ghetto some 2-3,000 Jews were shot in three mass graves, in the Jewish cemetery on the southern outskirts of Zdzięcioł, roughly 1,000 people in each. Just over 200 Jewish craftsmen were transferred to the ghetto in Nowogródek. This was the end of the ghetto and the end of the Jewish community of Zdzięcioł. Several hundred Jews including the Kaplan family, who had hidden, fled once the massacre was over, some forming a family camp in the Nakryszki forest, where they managed to survive until the liberation.

Word spread about the Zhetel partisan detachment among Jews in the labor camps of Dworzec and Nowogródek and other places, such that a number of Jews tried to join them. Many of these were then caught on the way to the forest and were handed over to the Germans by the local inhabitants. The Zhetler detachment also in turn exacted revenge on local collaborators. One act of revenge took place in the village of Molery on September 10, 1942. After eliminating two collaborators, the Jewish partisans also informed the elder of the village and the local villagers about the precise reasons why they carried out this reprisal.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Christian Gerlach (1999) Kalkulierte Morde: Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weißrußland 1941 bis 1944 [Calculated Murder: The German economic and annihilation policy in Belorussia 1941 to 1944] In German. Hamburger Edition, Hamburg
  2. Zdzięcioł (Zhetel)
  3. Holocaust Chronology of 1942
  4. Zdzięcioł (Zhetel)

External links


  • Gutman, Israel. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Macmillan, 1990. Page 374.

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