Belarus

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

According to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, p. 71), the Holocaust is referred to as "the destruction of the Jewish population of Europe by the Nazis during World War II". The extermination of other national minorities is also mentioned briefly in certain textbooks.

There is no officially designated Holocaust memorial day in Belarus. However, since 2006, Belarus has observed 27th January as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. In addition, commemorative events are held annually on 2nd March, the date of the major anti-Jewish pogroms in the Minsk ghetto, and on 9th May, the Victory Day.

Belarus has not established a memorial day for commemorating victims of the Roma and Sinti genocide. Representatives of those nationalities killed by the Nazis are commemorated in Belarus annually on 22nd June, when the country commemorates all the victims of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), and also on other days related to the war.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

In the Koldichevo camp, up to 22 000 people were murdered, among them Jews, Belarusians and Poles. According to the inscription on one of the memorials there were also Romani among the victims. The exact number of victims is not known. Approximately two km north of the village a memorial was inaugurated in 2002, including and specifically naming all victim groups: Jews, Poles, Belarusians and Romani.

The Commissioner for Religious and Ethnic Affairs of the Republic of Belarus and other representatives of his office participate on a regular basis in publicly sponsored commemorative events dedicated to the Holocaust. President Alexander Lukashenko took part in the commemorative events dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Minsk ghetto, which were held at the “Yama” (a Russian word for “pit”) memorial, from 20th to 23rd October 2008. On 21st October 2013, a commemorative ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Minsk ghetto was held at the Yama memorial and event was opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs who placed a stone and laid a wreath at the monument. The ceremony was also attended by the president of the World Jewish Congress and by the Commissioner for Religious and Ethnic Affairs of Belarus.

On 8th June 2014, the President of Belarus laid a capsule containing a message for future generations on the site of a forthcoming memorial commemorating the Trostianets extermination camp, where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

According to the available information, there is no specialised institution, commission or research centre specifically dealing with the issue of the Genocide of the Roma.

Commissioner for Religions and Nationalities
Leanid P. Gouliako
11 Kommunisticheskaya St., Minsk 220029, Belarus
Telephone: +375 17 284-63-44
 
K. Marks st., 12, 220030, Minsk, Belarus
Telephone: +375 17 327-43-22, 327-48-27
E-mail: histmuseum@tut.by
 
ul.Grodnenskaya 2, 231400, Novogrudok, Belarus
Telephone: +375 8 01597 21470

Belarusian National Holocaust Foundation

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

The Yama Memorial in Minsk commemorates the city's ghetto victims. State authorities reported that some local communities organise regular events commemorating the extermination of the Jews. The subject of the Holocaust is one of the topics researched and presented by the Museum of History and Culture of the Belarusian Jews. The Museum of History and Regional Studies in Novogrudok also carries out research.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

Students encounter the topic of the Holocaust within the history curriculum at the secondary school level in grades 9 to 11. There are no fixed hours allocated to teaching about the Holocaust. Students have additional opportunities to learn about the Holocaust in the extra-curricular activities undertaken by individual teachers.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

World history textbooks for the tenth grade contain detailed information about concentration camps. The tenth-grade curriculum on the history of Belarus includes a topic on “The German Occupational Regime on the Territory of Belarus”. As part of this subject, a number of issues related to the Holocaust are studied, including the Nazi blueprint for Germanizing the East (Generalplan Ost) and the politics of genocide. The textbooks used also contain information about the murder of Jews and Roma on the territory.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

State authorities reported that central and regional teacher training includes the subject of the Holocaust. Teacher training is also conducted by the Museum of History and Culture of the Belarusian Jews. Despite financial constraints, the Belarusian National Holocaust Foundation has also held a series of seminars for secondary school teachers.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

Belarusian authorities support countrywide competitions for schoolchildren and university students on the topic “Holocaust: Remembrance and Future”.

A group of secondary school students undertook an initiative to create a website on the Holocaust in the Novogrudok region with the assistance of the Museum of History and Regional Studies in Novogrudok. Groups of students are also involved in establishing their own school museums devoted to the subject of the Holocaust. Some students carry out extracurricular activities aimed at maintaining authentic Holocaust sites; they hold commemoration ceremonies and deliver lectures to other students at the same school. In addition to the above mentioned activities, students from Pinsk took part in the restoration of communal places of burial and also worked with the Jewish Community and local authorities in organising an art competition featuring authentic Holocaust sites. The Belarusian National Holocaust Foundation organises national competitions for teachers and students called Holocaust: the Past and Current Affairs.

2.5 Remembrance day

Since one third of the citizens of Belarus died under Nazism, Belarusians see the crimes of Nazism as a genocide of all the inhabitants of the country; this is why Belarus has not established a memorial day for commemorating victims of the Roma and Sinti genocide. Roma and Sinti killed by the Nazis are commemorated in Belarus annually on 22nd June, when the country commemorates all the victims of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), and also on other days related to the war.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

According to the available information, there is no designated responsible person in the Ministry of Education.

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Nicolas Kalinin, chairman of Belarus Roma organization Ekhipe (Unity)

Andrej Kotjlarchuk, PhD, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Contemporary History, Södertörn University, Sweden

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

A Project of humanitarian commitment to 200 victims of National Socialism, including 80 Roma survivors in the Gomel region of Belarus was sponsored by the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (German acronym EVZ) within the framework of the campaign “I’m still alive!” Project has joined Roma and non-Roma to work together in Social Help (NGO) and overcome mistrust and prejudice against Roma. It took place in 2014, with the budget of 52 000€.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Article in BelaPAN online - Belarusian Romany Association to Erect Memorials on World War II Gypsy Execution Sites; Source: BelaPAN, BelaPAN; No. 58; January 18, 2000

"The Belarusian Romany Association "Roma" plans to erect memorials on the sites of mass executions of Belarusian Gypsies by the Nazis during World War II. According to Aleksandr Bosyatsky, Roma advisor for national issues, Europe's only Romany concentration camp was in Belarus, and more than 800 prisoners were slaughtered there in 1942 and 1943. In addition, according to Mr. Bosyatsky, 830 Gypsies were massacred in Uzda, the Minsk region, and about a thousand in Glubokoye, the Vitebsk region. According to Mr. Bosyatsky, Belarusian Gypsies who suffered from the Nazis currently receive humanitarian aid from Belarus' Understanding and Reconciliation Fund and Switzerland's Holocaust victims fund. Compensations to Gypsy victims of Nazism will be discussed at a congress of the Internationale Romani Union in Rotterdam on April 8, 2000, said Mr. Bosyatsky."