On the eve of WWII, some 2,400 Jews lived in Mir (Poland, today - Belarus), about half of the town's population. This was a community of traders, peddlers, manufacturers and Torah scholars. Mir was the location of the renowned Lithuanian Yeshiva that attracted scholars from across the Jewish world.
In September 1939, following the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement, Mir was annexed to the Belarus Republic of the USSR, and placed under Soviet rule.
On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Within five days, the Germans reached Mir. By 16 August 1942, the entire Jewish population of Mir had been murdered in three waves of executions at shooting pits. On the night of 9 August, a few days before the final mass murder, some 200 Jews managed to escape from Mir with the help of Oswald Rufeisen. They fled to the forests and joined the partisans.