The weather was changing when my friends and I continued our road trip through the west of Belarus on 21 April. It was raining when we started our day with a visit to the magnificent synagogue of Ashmyany. Later, we headed further west to the towns of Halshany, Iwye, Vselyub, Delyatichi, Liubcha, Navahraduk and Dziatlava.
Ashmyany synagogue is a miracle. It is one of the very last synagogues in eastern Europe with an original wooden roof construction and the original paintings on it. It is now part of the local history museum and restoration works have started, but it is obviously a race against time.
It took us a while until we were able to find the Jewish cemetery of Halshany, which is hidden in a forest. The trees on the terraine of the cemetery have been recently cut and it looks like there are efforts to clear the place and make it accessible.
In Iwye we visited two former beit midrash – Jewish study houses. Unfortunatelly nothing is preserved of the local Jewish cemetery; it was built over by a bank and other buildings.
Vselyub synagogue is now an abandoned shop. From the front side of the building the former purpose is hardly recognizable. But on the backside the old arched windows are still visible.
Bad news come from the town of Delyatichi. The cemetery was already destroyed long ago. Now the synagogue has been demolished. We found only a bulldozed place with a pile of bricks and bars.
In Liubcha we found two synagogues in direct neighbourhood. One abandoned – with storks breeding on it – the other one heavily Soviet-style transformed.
Navahraduk impressed us by its memorial complex in a former labour camp in the by the Nazis established ghetto. 150 forced labourers managed to escape from the ghetto through a self-dug tunnel and joined the partisans in the Belarusian forests. The tunnel is marked on the ground and ends at a memorial, naming all 150 survivors. The town’s cemetery is well maintained and offers a great view.
The synagogue of Dziatlava is now a fire department depot and unrecognizable but the Jewish cemetery is untouched and well preserved. We enjoyed the view of a place, that came through. It was already late when we arrived in Lida to stay there overnight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.