Sopockin, Belarus
World War I

German Occupation of Sopockin

October 5, 1914

World War II

Military Parade
(Date Unknown- Circa 1940s ?)

June 21, 1941 - The Germans attack Russia - Operation Barbarossa - Sopockin Bears the Brunt of the Attack on the First Day

July 6, 1944 - The Russians Take Back Sopockin

July 12, 1944

July 18, 1944

A 1945 Postcard From the Boston Branch To the New York Branch

Newsletter: Sopotkiner Relief Committee

On June 23rd, 1983, then President Sam Krinsky, wrote to all the members, in pertinent part, that

"It is the wish of your present officers that the name CONGREGATION ACHEI GRODNO VASAPOTKIN be kept in tact and you always be considered as one of its members, as long as each of you are alive.With that thought in mind, your present officers have re-elected themselves in their present office. If they are called to ABOVE, one of our younger members will be called on to take over the vacant position and trust that that individual will not refuse."

On October 14th, 1983 two new officers, first generation Americans, were elected, Arthur Kramer and Leonard Skriloff. These officers continue today (2002).

World War II Sopockin Document
Courtesy of the Holocaust Museum

(Said to be, in reality, A death list)

Many people from Sopockin were taken to a camp, about five miles from Grodno. It was called either Kielbasin or Kilbassino (Russian). The Yiskor Book, , gives an all too vivid depiction of what it was to endure in this place. The author put it this way-

"After the liquidation of the Russian camp, the Sopotkin Jews were brought there. After them, about twenty-five thousand Jews from the regions of GRODNO and BIALISTOK were brought there. They were pushed into the deep, wet pits which was called camp. At the entrance stood the hangman, the S.S. Rintsler with a wiper (an iron stick) in his hand. They were beastly beaten and pushed into the pits. All day long they sat in the deep, cold, dark pit. During two hours every day they were forced to crawl out from the pits for appeal, to run and to be beaten again and again. They received one slice of bread a day and "soup"from dirty and rotten potatoes which nobody could eat."

It was told to this writer, by one who wishes to remain anonymous, who survived from here and later from other camps, that most of the prisoners were forced to squat in narrow but deep trenches all day and night, rain or shine. Vincent Chatel ( stated that he found something about this camp in The Black Book, Text and Testimonies, ed. Ehrenbourg and Grossman; Solin/Actes Southern: 1995. It is a short testimony from Mordechai Tsiroulnitski, survivor of Auschwitz, Roll number 79414. Mr. Chatel has translated it from the French-

"On November 2nd, 1942, the whole population of OSTRYNA was transferred to the camp of KELBASSINO, near GRODNO. It was a former POW camp, but there was nobody when we arrived. All the Jews from the cities and villages around Grodno were transferred to Kelbassino. We had to live in barracks, three hundred people per barrack. We were forced to work in the surrounding swamps. Each day we received 150 grams of bread and one or two frozen potatoes. For any reason the Lagerfuhrer Insul was beating us with a hammer. He was hitting us directly on our head, until we faint. Starvation and typhus killed a dozen inmates per day. The deaths were not buried. There was a huge pit, not far from the camp. The corpses were just thrown into the pit, then covered with lime."

In the Handbook of the State Archives of the Republic of Belarus, it states that "... on February 5, 1943, 539 people were murdered in the ghetto in Sopotzkin." While the 1921 census shows a population of 888 Jewish people residing in Sopockin, the death of 539 people would only account for a part of the population no matter what the exact number was at the time of the Nazi occupation compared to the 1921 census. The survivors of Kilbassino and other Sopockin survivors elsewhere have since flourished. They and their descendants live mainly in Israel, the United States and Argentina.

Towards, and at the end of WW II, The Soviet Army captured many Nazi documents. These documents eventually came under the auspices of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission. Many of these documents are now in the possession of the archives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documents, including those regarding Sopockin, were translated from German to Russian (Cyrillic) in 1945 by the Commission, and more recently, those from Sopockin, in 2001, by Bela Terasulo, from Russian to English. These documents are death lists for the Sopotzkinski District of Grodnenski Province. Death Lists

Sopotskin, Belarus Cross Cultural Service Project: Dartmouth Hillel & Dartmouth College (Cemetery Restoration)

Sopotskin Cemetery Project Correspondence (3/25/2003 through 7/17/2005)

My Search for Family Roots in Sopotskin
by Steve Lipman

Sopockin Cemeteries

Sopockin Census of 1784    (courtesy of Landsmen, publication of The Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group)

How to Read a Jewish Tombstone Anywhere in the World: Tombstone Translation Topics or the Matzevah Matters  by Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer Caplan

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