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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community in Mir

Mir During the Holocaust

Under Soviet Rule

Sali Cherni (right) and his friend Monya Gilimovski in Red Army Uniform, Mir. Sali Cherni was killed when the Red Army entered GermanySali Cherni (right) and his friend Monya Gilimovski in Red Army Uniform, Mir. Sali Cherni was killed when the Red Army entered Germany

In September 1939, Western Belarus was annexed to the Belarus Republic of the USSR. On 17 September, Soviet tanks entered Mir.

"The Soviet tanks arrived. It was such a great surprise that young and old, large and small streamed into the streets to welcome our saviors. None of us thought about the long term. We just enjoyed the moment… while that night, we heard on the radio: blackout in Berlin, blackout in London, but we were bathed in light and joy…"

Miriam (Marisha) Swiranowski (Leader), "In die Jahren [Years] 1939-1941", Mir, pp. 582-583

After a short while, as was taking place across Belarus, Soviet rule was established in Mir, including nationalization of the economy, the closure and liquidation of national and religious institutions, the sovietization of the education system, the dismantling of political parties and Zionist and Jewish youth movements, and more. Even the "Bund" was deemed unacceptable in the eyes of the Soviets. Members of the "Hashomer Hatzair" movement in Mir continued their Zionist activities underground. A group of young members of the pioneering youth movements left Mir and joined the youth movements active in Vilna, which was then under independent Lithuanian rule. In addition, the majority of members of the Mir Yeshiva, renowned for its students and rabbis, left the town for Vilna. Following a string of events, the yeshiva arrived in Shanghai, where it remained until the end of the war. The yeshiva building in Mir was confiscated by the authorities and turned into a lecture and dance hall.

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