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Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.
The building at Sukhaya Street 25 currently houses the IBB Minsk/Leonid Levin History Workshop, which was opened in March 2003. It holds international conferences and seminars. The History workshop includes a Holocaust exhibition which tells of the Jewish ghetto prisoners who passed through this building.
The house was built in the early 1900s, and was owned by the Biarkouski family. Leib Biarkouski was a watchman of the Jewish cemetery, located nearby, and a well-known stone carver who also made stones for the cemetery. After 1929, the house was nationalized and is believed to have been used by an industrial artel. During the war it was located within the confines of the Minsk ghetto. In the post-war period, a Civil Registry Office, sewing shop, and construction warehouse were located here.
During the years the Minsk ghetto was active, this house had a secret hiding place for Jews in the building which functioned as a “malina”. On October 23, 1943, the German occupiers declared Minsk “Judenfrei” (free of Jews). However, 26 Jews from the ghetto hid here and 13 of them survived until liberation.
There were malinas throughout the ghetto.
Barys Mlynski, who also lived in a house close to the Jewish cemetery, describes how the malinas were created: “We spent the whole summer digging this hideout. At night they carried out the earth in buckets in a chain, scattered it under the yard and put sod on top, and the next day the sod was removed, the earth was poured again, and the sod was superimposed on top as if no one had done anything. It was already so clearly organized with us that all the residents of our house, and there were 10 or 12 of them, could all go downstairs within one minute or a minute and a half. There, under the bed, one board was pushed to the side and everyone went down. The last one, it was me usually, pushed the board behind him from above.”
Rita Kazhdan hid in a similar shelter:
“Abram Aronavich Levin, the husband of mum’s friend – a wonderful man, very decent, in advanced years – was a pharmacist. We moved to his place. In this drugstore there was a so-called malina, a place where one could hide from the fascists. Abram Aronovich himself stayed in the drugstore as the manager and we crept through the bottom shelf, which could be pulled out, into the drawer of the pharmaceutical cupboard in the next room, where drugs and measuring glasses were kept; then Levin put the shelf back. This is how we hid ourselves.”
Elisaveta Leukova hid in the “malina” in the building that now houses the History Workshop. She experienced the arrival of the Red Army on July 3rd, 1944, from her place in hiding, where she and others stayed under the ground for 9 months after the ghetto was liquidated:
“We heard very heavy aircrafts, seeming to split the sky. […] An hour passed, two, three. We thought that, most certainly, the person who was on look-out was captured. And just then she cleared out the entrance and began to shout: come out, the war is over. We didn’t understand and asked her what happened, and she said again: come out, it’s the Soviet army. But how to get out if my legs didn’t obey me? And I had nothing to put on; the housecoat I wore when I entered the hideout was full of dirt and lice. I didn’t wash myself for nine months, and not only I, none of us took a bath, we hadn’t washed our hands since then.”