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Nazis Force Jews in Minsk District to Dig Their Own Graves

August 12, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jews in the Nazi-occupied Minsk region are being forced by the Nazis to dig their own graves and be buried alive, it was reported today in a radio broadcast from Moscow, based on information reaching the Soviet capital from Russians who succeeded in escaping from Nazi camps near Minsk.

The informants pictured, in horrible details, the atrocities which the Jews are undergoing in the Minsk district, especially those held in a huge concentration camp near Minsk. Every evening the Nazi commander of the camp draws up a list of those to be shot the next morning. The next day the victims are led to a yard not far from the camp and executed.

“On July 21,” the Moscow radio reported, “the commander of the camp ordered a large group of Jews to dig their own graves. When this was done, the victims were bound and thrown into the graves, while Russian internees were ordered by the Nazi commander to fill the pits with earth so that the Jews would be buried alive. The Russians, however, refused. Whereupon the Nazis brought machine guns to the spot and executed 45 Jews and 30 Russians.” This report, the Moscow radio disclosed, came from Michael Skorotkievich, district librarian, who was among the Russians who succeeded in escaping from the camp.

Describing general conditions in the Minsk camps, the Soviet librarian stated that the prisoners there, including children, are being denied food for as long as five days, then a rotten herring is apportioned to every three internees. Hundreds of sick prisoners receive no medical attention whatsoever, and the corpses of those who die of starvation and of physical torture remain in the camp for weeks without being removed by the Nazi guards.

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