Documents pertaining to Beshenkovichi, Vitebsk Oblast, Belarus which was decimated by the Nazis in 1942.
A Jewish community was established in Beshenkovichi at the beginning of the 17th century. In the period between the two world wars local Jews worked in crafts and small trade until the latter was forbiden at the beginning of the 1930s. In the area there were also more than one Jewish kolkhoz, which also employed Jews from Beshenkovichi. A Yiddish school operated in the town until 1936.
In 1939 Beshenkovichi had 1,119 Jews, comprising 16 percent of the total population. By 1941 their number had doubled, to approximately 2,800 due to the arrival of refugees from Poland after it was conquered by the Germans. Beshenkovichi was occupied by the Germans on July 6, 1941. Soon thereafter a ghetto was set up and the Jews forced into it. In February 1942 Beshenkovichi's Jews were killed in one murder operation on the banks of the Zapadnaya (Western) Dvina River.
On September 11, 1942 all the Jews of Beshenkovichi, except for specialists, who were killed later) were taken toward the village of Strelka, located on the far side of the Zapadnaya Dvina River, where prisoners of war had been forced to dig three pits on the previous day. The Jews were shot to death there. Afterwards, the pits were covered with sand and chloride of lime.
Some young local Jews escaped from the town during the time when Germans concentrated the Jews before taking them to the murder site. The young Jews survived.