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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community in Mir

The History of the Mir Community Before the Holocaust

Beginnings

  • Young people from Mir in front of the Mir palace ("Zamek", fortress)
  • At the Mir bus station. On the bike: Yitzhak- Itche Reznik
  • Fire Brigade Wind Orchestra, Mir. Most of those pictured are Jewish
  • View of the Mir palace ("Zamek", fortress) and bridge. Mir, 1924
  • Group of youth from Mir in front of wooden houses in the town
  • Palace of the Radziwiłł princes and the surroundings, and some of the houses in Mir
  • View of the market road in Mir
  • Group of Youth from Mir on a hike in the Jablonowcina Forest, Mir
  • Market Day in Mir, c. 1926. Monday was Market Day in Mir
  • Wisoka Street, c. 1926. Right, the homes of Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Kamai and the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel
  • Moshe Goldin and his sisters Riva (right) and Elka, in front of the Mir palace ("Zamek", fortress), Mir. Photo: their father, Binyamin Goldin, the town photographer
  • The palace (Der Schloss) and the bridge, Mir. On the left, women washing clothes in the river. Photo: Binyamin Goldin
  • View of the town of Mir. Photo: Binyamin Goldin
  • Friends in the forest, Mir, 1932. From top: Yasha Rozowski, Fanya Zimerman, Manya Chaimovitz, Zvia Miller

The ancient village of Mir was founded in the mid-14th century. The first Jews settled in Mir in the 17th century. In his book, A Voyage of Mission from Moscow to Poland (1678), the diplomat Bernard Tanner wrote, "Mir is populated with a great many Jews."

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mir became a commercial town with many fairs and horse and fur trading centers – including a station for merchants and travelers from across eastern and central Europe to switch horses and carts. The merchants included many Jews. The Jews of Mir traded in furs, produce, livestock, grains, wine, soap and tobacco. In the 18th century, the traders from Mir attended fairs as far away as Leipzig, and administered business in Koenigsberg, Klaipeda and Liepaja.

The Jews of Mir were protected by the town's proprietors, the family of the Radziwiłł princes, but despite this privilege they occasionally suffered from abuse by Prince Radziwiłł himself. Shlomo Maimon, a Jewish philosopher and author born in the 18th century in a village close to Mir, wrote:

"One time [Radziwiłł] came to the synagogue with his entire entourage… he smashed the windows and the heaters, broke all the dishes, threw the Sefer Torah out of the Holy Ark, among other things. One God-fearing Torah scholar who was present went to pick up one of the scrolls from the ground – and was rewarded with being wounded by a rifle bullet shot by His Highness the Prince himself. The procession then left for the second synagogue, where they carried out similar actions, and then to the Jewish cemetery, where they destroyed the buildings and burnt the tombstones." Shlomo Maimon, Hayei Shlomo Maimon: Katuv Beydei Atzmo, pp. 67-68

In the mid-18th century, some 600 Jews lived in Mir, and the community grew rapidly. Alongside the traders were weavers, tailors and silversmiths, and by the end of the 19th century, 3,319 Jews were living in Mir – more than half the settlement's total population.  In 1815, the famous Mir Yeshiva was established and the Jews of the town earned their living renting rooms to the yeshiva students.

Until WWI, Mir was under Russian rule. Afterwards, with the establishment of Poland, Mir was included in the territory allocated to Poland.

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.

To learn more about the Claims Conference, click here.

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Foundation in Memory of Mir Jewry in Belarus