חאטין – Khatyn – Хатынь
ב-22 למרץ 1943 מערב של פרטיזנים תקפה במארב שיירה גרמנית של Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 ו- Dirlewanger Waffen-SS ליד הכפר קוזירי במרחק 6 ק"מ מחאטין. הרגה ארבעה שוטרים של הגדוד ובין ההרוגים היה הנס וולקה, מפקד הגדוד ב- Dirlewanger Waffen-SS. חיילים מהחטיבה הגיעו לחאטין שמנה 156 תושבים וערכו בתושבי הכפר טבח. בטבח נשרפו, נורו ונחנקו 147 אנשים, כולל 75 ילדים מתחת לגיל 16. הכפר נבזז ונשרף עד היסוד. יתכן שאחת הסיבות להקמת האנדרטה בחאטין היתה לבלבל טיירים זרים בין רצח Khatyn ובין רצח Katyn שביצעו הכוחות הסובייטים. טבח יער קאטין הוא ההוצאה להורג ההמוניים שבמהלכם נטבחו חיילים, אזרחים, וקצינים פולנים, אשר שהו במחנה השבויים קוזלסק שביער קאטין פולנים בהוראת שלטונות ברית המועצות במהלך אפריל ומאי 1940, בזמן מלחמת העולם השנייה.
The sculpture above is that of the only survivor of Khatyn – Josef Kaminski. He was away from the village and when he returned all his village was burned. The entire population of the village – 149 people, including 75 children- was gathered in a single wooden barn. First people didn't understood the design of Germans. But when they smelled kerosene and saw the flames total panic broke out inside the barn. People were throwing children into the tall windows of the barn in a hope that they will have at least some chance at escape. Germans have surrounded the barn in a ring and were spraying out of machine guns everyone jumping out of the windows of the burning barn. Kaminski's son was shot this way too. Kaminski is shown in the sculpture in an ultimate grief of a father holding the lifeless body of his son.
March 22 1943 – 60 years ago – 26 houses with their inhabitants (149 people, including 75 children) were burned by the German punishment battalion in Belarusian village of Khatyn. The tragic fate of the burned villages is commemorated in a vast, spreading over 50 hectars, Khatyn' WWII Memorial, which was opened near Minsk in 1969. Khatyn' was not the only village with such a horrible fate. Population of 618 Belarusian villages was burned ALIVE by Nazis during WWII in SS punishment operations against guerilla troops. 185 of burned Belarusian villages were never re-established after war – they have disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Sadly, the Khatyn massacre was not an unusual incident in Belarus during the second World War. At least 5,295 Belarusian settlements were burned, destroyed by the Nazis and some or all their inhabitants were killed as a punishment for collaboration with partisans. In the Vitebsk region 243 villages were burned down twice, 83 villages three times, and 22 villages were burned down four or more times. In the Minsk region 92 villages were burned down twice, 40 villages three times, nine villages four times, and six villages five or more times. Altogether, over two million people were killed in Belarus during the three years of Nazi occupation, almost a quarter of the country’s population.
Listen to the Bells of Khatyn – הקשיבו לפעמוני חאטין
The memorial has 26 chimneys with bells – one for each of the houses in the village – which ring out every hour. Each chimney has a plaque remembering the family members who died. Bells ring every 30 seconds to commemorate the rate at which Belarusian lives were lost throughout the duration of the war.
האיש שלא נכבש – "The Unconquered Man"
בית הקברות לכפרים בחאטין – Khatyn Cemetery of Villages
In memory of lives lost, each individual village destroyed is represented and those that have been since repopulated are honored by their names in tree sculptures, representing new life and survival. The symbolic cemetery of villages behind the houses-monuments has the soil brought from 185 burnt villages that never revived after the war.
The Wall of Sorrow near the cemetery represents the memorial slabs with the names of 66 largest death camps and places of massive loss of life.
עץ החיים – The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life lists 433 villages that were burned by the Nazis and were restored after the war.
כיכר הזכרון – Square of Memory
The Square of Memory features three birch trees symbolizing life and Eternal Flame instead of a fourth tree commemorating the Belarusians killed during the war.
Khatyn can only really be reached by road. From Minsk, you take the M3 motorway towards Vitebsk. The car park and complex are located 5km after turning into the complex and driving through the woods.
יומנו השלם של אברהם זלמן כהן: Hebrew autobiograhy of Abraham Zalman Cohen describing Jewish life in Czarist White Russian village of Bogushevichi, Communist Revolution, escape and immigration to the United State, work in New York City and Peekskill, NY and building a family in the Jewish Community of Ossining, NY/
Forty Five Years on the Block – The Autobiography Of Abraham Zalman Cohen: אנגלית
מכתבים ששלח אליהו – צבי – הירש כהן – כגן מבלרוס אל בנו ואל קרובי משפחתו בארה"ב : Letters sent by Eliahu – Zvi – Hirsh Cohen – Kagan to his son, Avraham – Zalman Cohen, in 1927 through 1937
All the links to our pilgrimage to Belarus
מאלי טרוסטינץ – Maly Trostinets