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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community in Mir

Mir, Poland (today Belarus)

"Without mark or sign
Here was a holy community.
The community of Mir, a peaceful community
In pits in the sand, beyond reach”. Simcha Reznik, "Upon a Mass Grave", Mir, p. 359

On the eve of WWII, some 2,400 Jews lived in Mir, 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, 200 Jews managed to escape from Mir with the help of Oswald Rufeisen. They fled to the forests and joined the partisans.

Today there are no Jews in Mir.

This is the story of the community of Mir.

Further Reading: 

Blumental Nachman (ed), Mir, Encyclopaedia of the Diaspora, Jerusalem 1962.

Dean Martin, “Microcosmos: Collaboration and Resistance during the Holocaust in the Mir Rayon of Belarus, 1941-1944”, Gaunt David, Paul A. Levine & Laura Palosuo (eds), Collaboration and Resistance During the Holocaust – Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, PeterLang , Germany 2004.

Tec Nechama, in the Lions Den – The Life of Oswald Rufeisen, Oxford University Press, New York 1990.

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