Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

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Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

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Slonim - Cultural Heritage Card

Слонім [Belorussian], סלאָנים [Hibrew], סלונים [Yiddish],

Słonim [Polish], Dramblys [Lithuanian], Слоним [Russian]

Slonim is a town, a district center of Grodno region in the Republic of Belarus.

The centre of Slonim
The centre of Slonim (Author: ; )

Historical and natural landscape

It is situated on confluence of the rivers Shchara and Isa, 195 km to South-West from Minsk and 143 km to South-East from Grodno. There is Zhirovichi Orthodox Monastery 10 km from Slonim. The railway station is situated on the way from Baranovichi and Vawkavysk. As of the 1st of January 2013 population of the town was 48,977 people.

Geographic coordinates: 53°05′ N. 25°19′ E (G) (O) (Я)

History

Slonim appeared on the lands inhabited in early Middle Ages by East Slavic tribe the Dregoviches. Convenient location on the banks of the Shchara river turned the town into a center of highly developed handicrafts and trade.

For the first time Slonim was mentioned in Chronicles in 1040 in the context of the battle of Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus with Lithuanians, residing in close proximity to the Dregoviches. It is stated in Polish Chronicles that in 1040 Yaroslav I vanquished Lithuanians and obliged them to pay tribute.

The first mention of Slonim in Russian Chronicles dates back to the middle of the 13th century when in 1252 the King of Rus' Daniel of Galicia (TN Ukr. Danylo Romanovych Halytski) sent his troops to defeat Lithuanians [TN: Old Slavonic language]: "...sending brother to Vawkavysk and son to Ulonim". Name of Slonim probably comes from old Slavic "uslona" ("vslona") – a barrier or fortification.

Since the middle of the 13th century Slonim was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. On the 15th of July Slonim regiment took part in the victorious battle of Grundwald against Crusaders. In the following years Slonim experienced a dynamic growth. In 1507-1795 Slonim was the center of the county in Navahrudak province. In 1531 the town received the Magdeburg Law. In 1586 Lev Sapega became the head of Slonim. Notwithstanding the importance of positions held by Lev Sapega in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (deputy chancellor and then chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) he paid considerate attention to Slonim. In a short period it turned from a small provincial town into an important political center of the Duchy. In the time of Sapega's leadership town castle was reconstructed and modernized, premises of the archive and library were expanded, and a new stone palace was built called Sapieha Palace where in 1597-1685 local Counsel (Seymiks) gathered of the entire Grand Duchy of Lithuania were carried out there, this palace was attended by ambassadors and senators of voivodeships. Povet seymiks (meetings) were also carried out there. During those meetings ambassadors for general seymiks and tribunal deputies were elected. For accepting great amount of noble men Sapega constructed buildings for guests not far from the castle, paved streets and a square, planted gardens and built new bridges. In 1595 he rebuilt the only RC church in the town (situated at the place where now St. Andrey RC church stands) which had been destroyed in 1506. In 1591 Slonim elder Lev Sapega achieved from the king of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund III Vasa confirmation of the Magdeburg Law for Slonim. It was then that the emblem of the town was approved: a golden lion with a double silver cross and an arrow on a blue field. In 1605 Lev Sapega also helped the town to obtain the right of a warehouse and in the result of that merchants transporting their goods through the town had to stay in Slonim and to perform trading in it. The same year Lev Sapega founded the first weaving workshop in the town.

Slonim belonged to deputy chancellor of Lithuania Casimir Lev Sapega and then to magnates Oginskiys.

During the period of the 16th - the 18th centuries Slonim was a najor trading center. The town became especially well-known thanks to activities of the Great hetman of Lithuania Michail Casimir Ogninskiy. He built several enterprises in Slonim. On his initiative and on his funds a channel was constructed connecting Yaselda (a tributary of Pripyat) with Shchara: within borders of the town the arm of Shchara was aligned (1763-1783). Appearance of the town changed: shopping lines were organized; the town hall and an RC church were built. Name of M.K. Ogninskiy is related with activity of the court theater created in about 1770. Professional Italian and Polish opera singers, dramatic actors, painters, bond chorus and a ballet worked in this theater. Slonim orchestra (choir) was one of the biggest court orchestras in Europe during that period of time both in terms of number of performers (53 persons) and in terms of available musical instruments. Slonim was called "Northern Athens". The palace of Ogninskiy became the place where Ogninskiy's nephew spent his young years. He was the author of polonaise "Farewell to the Motherland".

The first mentioning about Jews in Slonim belongs to 1551 when the town was mentioned in the list of Jewish communities released from paying the tax on Jewish houses ("serebshchizna"). In 1623 Lithuanian vaad attributed Slonim to jurisdiction of Brest-Litovsk qahal. But already in 1626 the town was defined as a separate tax unit and later it became the center of this district (galil) being under influence of Brest-Litovsk.

In the 1630-s when Slonim became the center of carrying out general seyms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania importance of the town and its community increased significantly. In 1642 a big stone synagogue in baroque style was built here. In 1660 Jews living Slonim suffered in the result of riotous behavior of soldiers of hetman S. Charnetskiy. At the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th century Jews living in the town dealt in wood and wheat, they also performed distillation and various handicrafts. In the 18th century Ogninsk magnates attracted to Stolim merchants and craftsmen (including Jews). By 1766 the number of Jewish population of the town and its suburbs reached 1,154 people and population of Slonim uyezd (district consisted of 4,289 people).

In pinkos of local Bikur - Kholim there is a record informing about setting an annual fasting in honor of horrors experienced on the 26th Sivan 5524 (the 17th/18th June 1764) when enemy troops approached the town. At the same time it is mentioned that there was a battle between these enemy troops and a Russian squadron. What is meant there is the battle between the Russian troops and the territorial army of Prince Charles Radzivill. This fasting became known as "Khukat Week Wednesday". But very soon this fasting was substituted with collection donations for the hospital.

In 1795 Slonim was included to the Russian Empire and obtained status of a government center. But soon in the result of administrative-territorial reforms it was transformed into an uyezd center (district center).

In the 19th century the number of members in the community was rapidly growing: in 1797 1,360 Jews and Karaites lived in the town. In 1847 number of Jews was 5,700 people and in 1897 the Jewish population was 11,515 people. During the 1880-s there were 21 synagogues in this area and on the eve of the First World War dozens of heders and four Jewish specialized schools worked in the town.

In 1882 in the result of introduction of "Provisional Regulations" a big number of Jews were moved to Slonim from neighboring villages. In the 19th – beginning of the 20th century Slonim Jews dealt in trading (wood, furs and skins) as well as in trading, woodworking, production of metalware, brick burning, tanning; some Jews owned steam powered mills. The first textile factory in the town was grounded in 1826 by a Jewish entrepreneur; the staff of this factory consisted of 35 persons including 20 Jews. By the end of the 19th century about 30 small factories were opened in Slonim. Almost all these factories were owned by Jews. By 1910 Jewish community of the town maintained 7 synagogues, several prayerful houses and heders, a "Talmud-Tora"; there were several Jewish specialized schools (two of them were for men and the other two were for women).

In the middle of the 19th century Avrakham ben Izkhaak Weinberg (1804 – 1883) who was the founder of a new trend in Hasidism and who started the dynaty of tzaddiks Slonim (Slonimer). Yeshivah of Slonim (being one of the most influential in Lithuania and Belarus) appeared under control of this dynasty.

In 1897 the first Jewish trade union was created in Slonim; in 1902 – 1906 branches of such organizations as Bund, Poaley Zion and Zionist Socialist workers' party were organized. In 1905 – 1906 a joined community defense volunteer squad of Jewish Socialist parties acted in the town. In 1913 Jewish workers of the town organized a strike as a mark of protest against Beilis proceedings.

During the period of 1919-1939 Slonim was a part of Poland (the center of Slonim uyezd (district), Novogrud voivodeship). In 1921 Jewish population of the town was 6,917 people (71.7% of the total population). During 1921 – 1927 population of Slonim was 9,643 people.

In Slonim there were "Tarbut" secondary schools where learning was organized in Hebrew; CYSO (Central Yiddish School Organizations) as well as religious schools "Tachkemone" where learning was organized in Yiddish. There were such periodicals as "Unser Journal" (1921 – 1925) and newspaper "Slonimer Wort" (1926 – 1939). There were offices of all political parties working in Poland during the 1930-s. Zionists enjoyed considerable influence. During the 1930-s leaders of this movement were at the head of the community. Not far from the town instructional farm Khe - Haluza was situated.

In September 1939 troops of the Soviet Union entered Slonim.

On the 15th of January 1940 the town became the center of Slonim district, Baranovichi region of Belorussian SSR.

After the start of the Second World War numerous refugees started to arrive to Slonim from Poland which was occupied by the German troops. According to data of the 25th of October 1939 there were 2,000 refugees in Slonim. By the end of 1939 544 refugees living in Slonim were recruited for performing works in eastern regions of Belorussian SSR. But in the following summer the number of refugees in Slonim significantly increased. According to information of the 24th of July 1940 there were 12 thousand of refugees in the town. And according to data of the 30th of October their number was 15,216 (Jews constituted a majority). Presence of great number of refugees in the town created a number of problems: only 2,642 refugees were placed in a job. And that was only 34.7% of all able-bodied refugees. Local authorities could provide refugees mostly with hard and low-payed work and that didn't correspond to the professional structure among the refugees and couldn't change their critical financial position. Refugees’ refusal to take up work was perceived by heads of PCIA (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) of Slonim as sabotage. Refugees living in Slonim were accused in applying criminal ways to obtain their means of existence (speculation and theft). Housing situation for refugees in the town was also difficult. 3,370 refugees lived in communal houses, 101.11 people per house. – in private houses in conditions of extreme crowding (1,156 people). – in synagogues (Slonim synagogue in str. Mostovaya-16 became a place of habitation for 29 families and 13 single persons – the total number of inhabitants was 141 persons), in barns – 227 people, in cellars – 24 families, and in former shops and kiosks – 201 persons; some persons were of no fixed abode – 76 persons. So, 11.5% of all refugees living in Slonim occupied premises unsuitable for living or didn't have a roof over their heads. Among refugees there were cases of such diseases as typhus and pediculosis. Synagogues, barns, basements and semibasement premises, shops occupied by refugees were characterized as dirty, unheated and insanitary premises without closets and cesspools. Refugees slept on cement floor and cooked food in the yard. At the end of July 1940 the head of Slonim town department of PCIA in Belorussian SSR Tolmachov wrote a special note to the head of PCIA in Baranovichi region. He proposed to arrest all single refugees without employment and refugees with families were going to be sent to remote regions of the USSR, they had to be forced to work. In the result of deportations number of refugees in Slonim was reduced. Next after establishment of the soviet power full-range liquidation of Jewish communities, religious institutions and political organizations was started. On the 12th of April 1940 PCIA deported about a thousand of Zionists to Siberia; and several months later Bund activists were also deported to Siberia. Such well-known Jewish leaders as doctor Shmuel Weis, doctor Isaak Efros, vice mayor Boris Piasetskiy, Itche Siatitskiy, Yezerskiy, Gurvich, Dapkovskiy were also sent to exile.

In the eve of invasion of German troops to the territory of the USSR 22 thousand Jews lived in Slonim and that was 2/3 of the total population of the town.

Slonim was occupied on 25th-26th of June 1941. According to the new administrative-territorial division Slonim town became the center of that district (Gebiet) being a part of the general region "Belarus" of the Reich Commission "Ostland". Duties of Slonim Gebietscommissar were performed by Gerhard Erren his deputy (Stableiter) Junker Ditrich Gick was at the head of Jewish Affairs department. Alexander Kisly was appointed the Burgomaster of Slonim.

Two weeks after the start of occupation Jews were ordered to wear yellow six-pointed David stars or a yellow patch on their chests and backs. Jews were prohibited to use public transport to walk on pavements to appear in the market and in various institutions; they were also prohibited to deal in trading, to be engaged in carting and hairdressing.

80-year old Wolf Berman was appointed the chairman of Judenrat (earlier he was the director of a bank and a gabbai synagogue). The Jewish board consisted of Yakov Goldfarb, Moshe Zakgeim, Joseph-Mordekhay Ripp, Karpl Ripp, Homak, Noach Midz, Payus, Yakov Rabinovich. Department of labor in Judenrat was engaged in organization of compulsory works. It was headed by Gershon Kvint. Misha Lotz became the head of the Jewish police; Max Rabinovich was his deputy. The staff of the police consisted of 30 persons. These were mainly refugees from Poland.

The first mass extermination of Jews in Slonim was carried out on the 14th of July 1941. At 09:00 a.m. Germans surrounded a part of the town and started to drive out middle aged Jewish men and youths from the houses. First these people were beaten and then they were driven along the road to the town square and then to the building of the town theater. Men were informed that they were going to be sent for performing works. The people were taken to Petrolevichi hill (also known as Petrolavsk hill, Curved hill or Petrolevits) situated 7 km from Slonim not far from village Petrolivichi 1. Shooting was performed by Einsatzcommand 8 and the 1st company of the 316th Police battalion. During this action several members of Judenrat and rabbi Yeguda Fein were killed. In total (according to various data) 1,100 - 1,400 Jews were shot dead on that day. In some sources a more precise number of killed people is presented (1,255 persons).

After this first action the Judenrat was headed by Gershon Kvint. Max Rabinovich became his deputy.

Jewish population of Slonim was divided into 3 categories depending on the level of their usefulness for occupation authorities. The first category included workers of Judenrat and the Jewish police, Jewish medical workers and craftsmen. The second group included all other able-bodied Jews. And the third category consisted of women, elderly people, disabled people, and persons with a higher education level.

Jews of Slonim were engaged in compulsory works in open pits (rock excavation) as loader workmen at the railway station; they took sunken logs out of the river. Their working day lasted 8 hours. Groups of Jews were sent to works under guard. Each group was usually headed by one of Jewish policemen. The ration of Jews engaged in works consisted of 250 g of bread mixed with beans. Slonim Jews sometimes hired Jews from among refugees to perform works instead of them (these refugees experienced great need). Many Jews had permanent employment at handicraft workshops. Member of the Judenrat Payus was allowed to open a small textile factory where Jews were employed.

For health servicing of Jewish population in 1941 Judenrat organized a Jewish policlinic (headed by physician Gavarin) and a Jewish hospital (headed by physician Blumovich). In order to provide medical institutions with the most essential items Judenrat called people to provide all possible assistance and Jews living in Slonim donated beds, clothes, linen and bedclothes.

Occupation authorities announced the Jewish population an order to give up the rest of food. Raids were carried out in Jewish houses and foodstuffs exceeding the admitted norm were confiscated. Those who broke the order were shot dead. After confiscation of food the authorities informed about collection of indemnity: Jews had to give 2 million of rubles. By means of confiscations of Jewish property supply of German civil and military institutions with furniture and other household items was performed. Belongings confiscated from the Jewish population which were unsuitable for the occupation authorities were transferred for resale among citizens of the town. Earnings obtained in the result of this resale were obtained by German institutions.

The second action of extermination of Jewish population in Slonim was organized by rifle division service on the 14th of November 1941. In report of Gebietscommissar Erren it is stated that on the eve of this action 16,000 Jews lived in Slonim. More than 10 thousand of people including all members of Judenrat were delivered in cars to Chepelevo situated 12 km from Slonim where they were shot dead. According to data presented by Slonim district Special State Committee 8 graves were found in Chepelev fields. In one of these graves 14,800 old people, women and children had been buried. Some wounded people managed to get out of pits and to come back to the town. Jewish physicians took them to hospital but the occupation authorities learned about that fact and all wounded Jews were shot dead. Only one person, Yasha Shepetinskiy stayed alive after the second action. According to opinion of gebietscommissar G. Erren extermination of "useless" Jews could solve the housing problem and food problem in the town. The second composition of Judenrat was defined (it included Khanoan Stenberg, Gershen Berenstein, Yakov Lubovich, Chaim Ruzhanskiy, Leon Smolinskiy). In the beginning of December 1941 Y.D. Gik presented the Judenrat with a plan of creating a ghetto and Jews were engaged in erection of columns and construction of a barbed wire fence. According to the order all windows, doors and gates overlooking the street with the ghetto fencing had to be tightly closed. On the 24th of December 1941 it was announced that all Jews of Slonim had to move to the ghetto. It was permitted to carry goods in carts but it was prohibited to bring furniture to the ghetto. High density of population in the ghetto as well as insanitary conditions brought to outbreak of typhus but thanks to efforts of Jewish physicians the epidemic was averted. Only working groups of people could leave the ghetto but they had to come back not later than 6:00 p.m. Only skilled specialists could use individual routes to get to place of work. These specialists were given a yellow bandage with an inscription in German giving information about the specialty and the place of work. From inside borders of the ghetto were guarded by the Jewish police and from outside the borders were guarded by the Polish police. Some specialists were permitted to live outside the ghetto and to have their own workshops. Zelik Milikovskiy and Ilya Abramovskiy kept a joiner's workshop on the skirts of the town and produced furniture on orders of occupancy authorities. Brothers Matus and Shimon Snovskiys owned a locksmith's workshop and on orders of German authorities they performed darkening, polishing and electrodepositing of personal weapon of German soldiers. Finkel and Yakov Khatskelevichs were owners of a smithy in Pervomayskaya street and Gerz Shepetinskiy, Arsik Bandt and Abram Doktorchik worked in a smithy situated in Operniy lane. Some physicians were also permitted to live and work outside the ghetto (for example, physician Volkhovskiy).

After the second action of extermination Jews started to construct hideouts (double walls or masked subfloors).

From January up to March of 1942 Jews from Derechin, Golynka, Bytenia, Ivantsevichi, Kossovo were moved to the ghetto of Slonim. In order to solve the food problem the occupancy authorities permitted Jews to go out of the town for buying potatoes.

In May 1942 500 Jewish men were sent from Slonim to Mahilyow for performing works. Some Jews escaped from the Slonim ghetto where according to their opinion they had more chances to rescue.

After the November action of extermination of Jews in the Slonim ghetto an underground organization was formed. It was an antifascist committee composed of Zionist youths. Among leaders of Slonim underground there were such personalities as Zorakh Kremen, Nionia Zirinskiy, Aviyezer Inber, Arik Stein, Anshel Deliatitskiy, Yakov and Gertsel Shapetitskiys, Natan Liker, Peysakh Alpert, David Epstein, Shepsel, Grisha and Yakov Gringauzes.

In Slonim there was a warehouse of trophies of war (“boytelager”) Great amounts of military ammunition were kept there. Under supervision of Germans and policemen ghetto prisoners had to repair and to clean weapons. Members of the underground brought out separate units of weapons, grenades, riffles, outfits. A German Jew-engineer Erich Stein became a member of the underground organization. He was at the head of workers in the boytelager and it significantly facilitated the work on taking out weapons. After establishment of communications with partisans lots of weapons, worm clothes, soap, salt radio receivers were started to be sent from the ghetto in Slonim. Physicians Abram Blumovich and Orlinskaya helped to provide partisans with medicaments. Members of the underground kept stockpiles of weapons outside the ghetto in places where Jews worked - in workshops and in the synagogue where the occupancy authorities organized a warehouse of agricultural machinery for the Central trading society "Vostok". With a help of the Judenrat fraudulent documents for works in villages were issued and so members of the underground had an opportunity to maintain regular contacts with partisans. After getting in touch with Shchors partisan party (headed by P.V. Proniagin) members of the underground started to go to the forest alone or in smaller groups.

The third action of extermination of Jewish population in Slonim was organized on the 29th of June 1942. The ghetto was surrounded. Groups of people were transported in trucks to the place of execution in Petrolevichi where pits were dug out (4 meters wide, 5 meters deep and 150 meters long). The action was performed by special mopping-up detachments headed by Untersturmfuhrer SS Amelung was well as by the 18th Lettish police battalion headed by mayor Rubenis. Members of underground offered armed resistence: 8 Germans were killed, 7 Germans were wounded. Many Jews found shelter in "hideouts". In order to make people to leave the hideouts punishers set the ghetto on fire. The hospital with 40 patients was burnt. Many of those who were hiding there suffocated in the smoke or were burnt alive. About 10 thousand people were exterminated during this action. According to the order of the occupancy authorities only few hundreds of Jewish specialists were left alive. In the "smaller ghetto" 700 men and 100 women were kept.

After the third action of extermination borders of the ghetto were significantly reduced. It was situated between bridges of Ogninskiy channel and Shchara river. Inspection of workers moving from the ghetto and outside of it became much tighter. Medical and sanitary situation and the matter of food provision were escalated. Members of Slonim underground took a decision to go to the forest where they were going to join partisans. Acting in accordance with an organized plan prisoners of the ghetto managed to leave the town and to take a great amount of weapons with them. More than 70 armed young Jews were admitted to Shchors partisan party. Other several hundreds of people organized a "family camp". This camp included many specialists who continued to render help to partisans (sewing military ammunition, repairing weapons). In late autumn after Shchors partisan party left Lolchinogorsk forests the "family camp" was almost completely smashed. Smaller groups of prisoners continued to join Shchors partisan party. Most of them were defined to the 51st group consisting of four platoons and including 125 soldiers (it was headed by a Homel Jew Yakov Fedorovich). The 51st group took an active part in organizing diversions, undermining trains, fights with the enemy, release of more than 200 prisoners from Kossovo ghetto on the 2nd August 1942.

On the 20th of Aufust 1942 a new action of extermination of Jews was organized in Slonim. In December 1942 the last ghetto prisoners were shot dead.

About 400 Jews managed to escape from Slonim ghetto. Many of them took part in the Resistance movement.

On the 10th of July 1942 Slonim was released by troops of the 1st Belorussian front.

Landmark architecture

(just existing objects).

Construction of Slonim synagogue was started in 1642 in the baroque style. According to historical sources the synagogue was planned as an important part of the town defense system. Probably strong walls of the synagogue could be explained by this fact. These walls provided a secure preservation for the rich and unique interior of the synagogue decorated with numerous ornaments.

The stone building of the Main synagogue was erected upon permission of Vladislav IV given in 1635 on the place of the wooden synagogue which had been destroyed by a fire. Architectural distinction of the synagogue from the RC church had to be provided. The building had to resemble other synagogues of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. But the synagogue obtained a standard sacral baroque appearance which was typical for temples of RC monasteries. According to tectonics two parts of the buildings can be distinguished: the main volume and the roofing with a swell plastic fronton. Architectural concept of the main volume corresponds to traditions of the synagogue art: thick walls, elongated arched windows (niches situated in two layers). Windows of the first layer are situated very low. They are twice thinner than upper windows and as a rule they are situated haphazardly. The last mentioned feature was quite peculiar for location of window apertures of synagogues especially on ground floors. The ground floor of Slonim Main synagogue extends beyond borders of the main volume in form of perimetritic additional buildings. Windows of the second level are compositionally more organized and create a calm rythm. A round window over the entrance logically corresponds to the round aperture in the front part. Walls are crowned with a wide cornice. And on the main facade it turns into eaves. Over the eaves a separate fronton part of the main facade is started. Its base is formed as a high parapet with flat niches and pilasters on edges and in the middle which separate the space of the fronton into three parts. The upper border of the parapet is fixed by means of an eaves control rod. The plastic fronton stands above it majestically. The central part of it is outlined with coupled pilasters which are based on the middle pilasters of the parapet. Wavy end of the fonton is continued with a curvilinear transition to the parapet. In the result of that a unified dynamic and dense silhouette was created. Curvilinear forms are supplemented with cornice profiles. Points of transition (between curvilinear and rectilinear forms) are fixed by means of decorative balusters. The architectural style of the Main facade of the synagogue includes evident compositional and plastic traces of Grodno baroque school (the 17th - the 18th centuries).

The synagogue is presented as a compact and quite high central volume of the hall with adjacent lower premises. A high roof and processing of the flank front with a figured shield makes its architecture more like baroque towerless RC churches. Construction of the synagogue was finished in 1648 and in the 18th century it was a bit reconstructed although a certain part of the initial plasterwork and paintings has been preserved. The building was significantly damaged during Napoleon invasion but later in the middle of the 19th century it was reconstructed.

The synagogue was in use up to 1940. After the Second World War its building was used as a warehouse and in 2000 it was brought back to believers. Now the building is in in a deplorable state. It is falling into decay. It can be saved only by means of urgent restoration. Attempts of such restoration have already been made by the Committee on Protection of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Belarus under direct support of Jews natives of Slonim who now live in Israel. But the restoration hasn't been completed. In 2000 a part of the building was completely brought down. In 2001 the building of this synagogue was transfered into ownership of Jewish Religious Society in Belarus.

Two buildings of synagogues built in the beginning of the 20th century have also been preserved in Slonim.

St. Andrew the Apostle RC Church str. Yanki Kupaly, 42) – it was built during 1770-1775 at the place of a wooden RC church destroyed in the second half of the 17th century. During the soviet period this temple was closed and was used as a salt warehouse. After the restoration in 1993 the temple was consecrated for the second time. It belongs to late Vilno baroque. St. Apostle Andrew Temple is presented as a one-nave rectangular building with small vestries on sides of the presbytery. The high nave (14 m high) is covered with cylindrical arches and lighted through arched windows. Symmetric towers are located on sides of the facade. These towers are placed at an angle to the plane of the facade. In niches under the entrance wooden sculptures of Apostles Peter and Pavel are situated. The main altar is an important part of the temple interior. It is performed in the rococo style. Walls are decorated with paintings and plasterwork.

St. Dominik roadside Chapel (corner of str. Mitskevicha and Str. Pushkina) – it was built in 1745. The chapel is presented as a small tier-like construction resembling the upper tier of an RC church tower. It includes simplified baroque forms. Under a stone baldachin there is a sculpture of St. Dominik.

The RC Church of Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary – it is a part of an architectural complex of the bernardine monastery constructed on funds of Konstantin Yudnitskiy in 1648. In 1664 construction of the temple was started and in 1670 it was finished. In the middle of the 18th century the building of this RC church was modernized in the rococo style. Unfortunately this building was completely destroyed in the result of a fire. A new building of this RC church was constructed in 1793.

Memorial places

The first monument represented as a 12-meter obelisk eternizing memory of victims of the fascist terror in Slonim was established in 1964 at the place where prisoners of Slonim ghetto had been shot dead in June-July 1942 not far from village Petrolevichi 1 in Curved Hill district. In 1967 steles in commemoration of Slonim citizens killed in Chepelev fields and not far from Slonim-Baranovichi highway. In 1979 a stela was set 5 km from the town in Morgi district, on the right side of Slonim - Derevnaya highway where in 1942 about 2 thousand Jews were shot dead and buried. In 1994 at the place of former cemetery in Slonim a memorial complex was opened (its author is architect L. Levin). This complex memorialized victims of Holocaust in Slonim and other Slonim district settlements. Entrance to the memorial is executed in form of an arch of gate of the old Jewish cemetery.

Intangible values

Slonim is the birth place of some well-known personalities.

Yelena Borisovna Kurilo (Olena Borysivna Kurylo) (1890-1946) — a soviet linguist.

Iyehiyeli, Yehiyel (יחיאל יחיאלי) (1937—1866) — an Israel pedagogue.

Meron, Israel (ישראל מרום (מרמינסקי)) (1976—1891) — an activist of the Zionist movement.

Avraam Slonimer (1802-1884) – a well-known talmudist and tzaddik, the founder of Slonim Hasidic dynasty; he was a private teacher of Talmud and then he became a tzaddik in Slonim. Out of his literary works only one was published. It was "Chesed le-Abrabam" (חםד לאנרהם‎). 

Museums, archives, libraries, private collections

Slonim district history museum named after I.I. Stabrovskiy is one of the oldest museums of this district. The museum was founded by archeologist and local history student Josef Iosifovich Stabrovskiy who was a native of Orlovichi farmstead (Slonim district). He was a heriditary nobleman, a colonel of the Russian army, participant of the First World War. He devoted his entire life to learning the history of his motherland. These are his ethnographic, numismatic, mineralogical and other collections became the basis for the first museum exposition presented in Slonim. The museum opened its doors for visitors on the 20th of September 1929. In 1957 a two-storied building was presented for the museum in Lenina square No1 where the museum is situated up to date. The total museum fund includes more than 23,000 exhibits including such items as a stone idol, a collection of coins belonging to the 17th - the 19th centuries as well as Polish-Lithuanian coins of the 16th - the 18th centuries, a collection of documents of the 16th - the 19th centuries, a bronze bust of Napoleon performed in Paris in 1885, a colored plan of Slonim belonging to 1885, plans of separate estates of the 18th - the 19th centuries, collections of ancient manuscripts of the 16th - the 19th centuries.

Up to date Slonim has got such institutions as Y.Kolas Central District Library, 5 libraries being branches of the network of public libraries in Slonim district, A. Pushkin Children's Library.

References

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Abramowitsch L. Die faschistische Gehenna am Beispiel des Ghettos der Stadt Slonim // “Morgens brauchte man nicht mehr mit “Heil Hitler” zu grussen”. Deutsch-russische Erinnerungen / Ed. A. Huckebrink. – Munster: agenda Verlag, 1996. – S. 144-164.

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Author: Irina Yelenskaya

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