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Maly Trostenets Extermination Camp
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Maly Trastsianiets extermination camp (see alternate spellings), a small village on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, was the site of a Nazi extermination camp. Originally built in the summer of 1941, on the site of a Soviet kolkhoz, as a concentration camp, to house Soviet prisoners of war who had been captured following the German attack on Soviet Union which commenced on June 22 of that year (known as Operation Barbarossa), the camp became a Vernichtungslager, or extermination camp, on May 10, 1942 when the first transport of Jews arrived there. While many Jews from Germany, Austria and the present-day Czech Republic met their deaths there (in most cases almost immediately upon their arrival, by being trucked to the nearby Blagovshchina (??????????) and Shashkovka (????????) forests killing grounds and shot in the back of the neck), the primary purpose of the camp was the extermination of the substantial Jewish community of Minsk and the surrounding area.
Mobile gas chambers deployed here performed a subsidiary if not insignificant function in the genocidal process. On June 28, 1944, as the Red Army approached the region, the Nazis bombed the camp in an attempt to obliterate evidence of its existence, in conformity with the aims of the so?called Aktion 1005. But the Soviets are said to have discovered 34 grave?pits, some (not all) measuring as much as 50 meters in length and 3 to 4 meters in depth, located in the Blagovshchina Forest some 500 meters from the Minsk–Mogilev highway, at about the 11th?kilometer mark (according to the special report prepared by the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission in the 1940s). No survivors of the camp are known to exist, and original estimates of the number of people killed there ranged from 200,000 to more than half a million. Yad Vashem currently estimates the number as 65,000 Jews Signage on the site indicates 206,000 were murdered there. The site is scheduled for a reconstruction and development. Currently nothing remains of the camp other than a row of poplars planted by the inmates as part of the border of the camp.
A memorial has been built at the site of the camp, and attracts thousands of visitors annually, especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which has eased travel restrictions. In Belarusian the name is ???? ?????????? (pronounced ), transliterated as Maly Tras’tsyanyets; in Russian it is ????? ?????????. Alternative romanizations and the place-name’s German variants include Maly Trostinets, Maly Trostinez, Maly Trostenez, and Klein Trostenez — literally, ‘Small’ Tras’tsyanyets) in contradistinction to the neighboring locality named ?????? ?????????? or ‘Large’ Tras’tsyanyets) .
- Maly Trastsianiets