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The 1939 Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic national census registered 375,092 Jewish residents.  After the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939 and the annexation of Polish territory under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Jewish population rose to an estimated one million, including 404,500 in what is now eastern Belarus and more than 600,000 in present day western Belarus.  The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic government is reported to have evacuated approximately 220,000 Jewish residents, primarily from present day eastern Belarus, to other regions of the USSR in 1941 following the Nazi invasion earlier that year.

An estimated 600,000-800,000 Jews, including those deported from eastern Poland and other European countries, were killed in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic between July 1941 and October 1943 in more than 500 ghettos, concentration camps, and mass killing sites.  Jews deported to the country from Germany and other European countries were taken mainly to the Minsk ghetto and the Maly Trostinec death camp, where they were killed.  An estimated 15,000 former prisoners of the Nazis still live in Belarus, including war veterans and former ghetto, concentration camp, and death camp prisoners.

Today, an estimated 40,000 Jews live in Belarus, united in 43 registered Jewish secular communities under the Union of Belarusian Jewish Organizations and Communities.  The country’s registered Jewish religious communities include Chabad Lubavitch, Progressive Judaism, and Religious Jewish Congregations.

The government provides no compensation or assistance to Holocaust survivors.  Reflecting improving relations following a decade of reduced U.S. diplomatic presence, the government has conveyed receptiveness to an expanded dialogue on the issue in response to recent U.S. embassy engagement.



During the Holocaust, the Nazis, their allies, and collaborators murdered 1.4 to 1.6 million Jews in Ukraine and destroyed hundreds of communities around the country, particularly in the western and central regions.  Before and after the Holocaust, the Jewish community faced repression at the hands of the Soviet regime, including nationalization of communal and private property and destruction and neglect of religious sites.  Wartime displacement to the Soviet interior and post-war emigration of Jews further impacted surviving Jewish community members’ ability to protect Jewish cultural heritage sites and property.

Estimates regarding the size of the current Jewish population vary.  The State Statistics Service estimated the Jewish population at 103,600 in the last available census in 2001.  The Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (VAAD) reported that as of mid-2019, there were approximately 300,000 persons of Jewish ancestry in the country.  The country’s prominent Jewish organizations include VAAD, the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.

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