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.