Stolbtsy, Belarus (View Photos) is located in Eastern Europe 45 miles Southwest of Minsk on the Neman River at 53.29 North latitude and 26.44 East longitude (View Maps). Other names are Stolpce (Polish) and Steibtz (Yiddish). The region was part of Poland until 1793 when it became part of the Russian Empire. Following the Russo-Polish War in 1919 Stolbtsy again became part of Poland. In 1939 Stolbtsy became part of the USSR. The area was occupied by Germany from 1941 to 1944. After WWII Stolbtsy remained part of the USSR until 1991 when Belarus declared its sovereignty and independence. Read "The Timeline Consequences of Border Changes of Belarus" (by Nancy Holden). Also read "The Chronology of Stolbtsy before 1917" (by Oleg Perzashkevich).

Jews began to settle there during the end of the 16th century Jewish merchants of Stolbtsy are referred to in legal archives of Minsk (1678) and in the supreme tribunal of Lithuania (1704) as traders in salt and salted fish. During the 18th Century Jews there engaged in the export of agricultural products, such as flax, and lumber, which were floated down the Nemen River to Koenigsberg in East Prussia. Imported products were salt, spices, and cloths. The Jewish population numbered 259 in 1811, 1,315 in 1847, and 2,409 in 1897, which was 64% of the total population. In the second half of the 19th century, the Jews developed the timber trade, and in the 20th century founded sawmills, which employed some Jewish workers. Zionist activity commenced in the beginning of the 20th century. A Bund group was organized in Stolbtsy in 1905-06. In the same period Jewish youth and workers in Stolbtsy organized self-defense against pogroms by the population of the neighboring villages.

During World War I about half of the Jews of Stolbtsy left the city. Those remaining suffered severely from the struggle for control of the area between the Red Army and those who opposed it during the civil war in 1919-20. In 1921 Stolbtsy was incorporated within Poland as a border town. There were then 1,428 Jewish inhabitants (48% of the total population). The Jewish economy (View 1929 Business Directory) was severely affected as a result of the city being cut off from its previous markets, the hostile attitude of the anti-Semitic government, and organized Polish competition.

Holocaust Period (View The Steibst Yizkor (Memorial) Book ). After the outbreak of World War ll, during the period of Soviet rule in Stolbtsy (1939-41), the Jewish community institutions were disbanded and all Jewish political activities were prohibited. In the spring of1941 Jewish youth were mobilized in the Soviet Army, and later fought against Germany. After the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), groups of Jewish youth attempted to reach the Soviet interior, but were prevented by the Soviets. At the beginning of the German occupation there were more than 3,000 Jews in the town. As early as July 1941 about 80 of them were executed. A ghetto was established at the end of 1941. In February of1942, hundreds of Jews were murdered at the local Jewish cemetery. In the spring of 1942 an underground resistance group was organized in the ghetto, and attempts were made to acquire arms. On May 15, 1942, the first group left the ghetto for the forests to make contact with the partisans. In September 1942 most of the Jewish population was killed, (View List of Tunicks Who Did Not Survive) with about 500 skilled workers remaining in the ghetto. Some were sent to the camps at Baranovichi and Minsk. A few Jewish groups escaped to the forests, joined the partisans, and carried out important combat operations against the Germans and their collaborators.

Reference Cited "Encyclopaedia Judaica", Volume 15. "Stolbtsy" Stokes, Rose Pastor, pp411-412. New York: Macmillan, 1972.

Additional Stolbtsy Links

Stolbtsy Photos

Stolbtsy Photos at Flickr - Hundreds of photos and letters

Belarus Database at Jewish Genealogy

"A Town Called Stolpce" - A personal essay by Melissa McCurdie

Live Minsk Camera

Stolbtsy Current Weather

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