80 years since Nazis started deporting Czech Jews to Belarus

Jews in Minsk ghetto (1941)

The wartime story of Czech Jews is often told in connection to the Terezín concentration camp and Auschwitz, but tens of thousands were also deported to work in Belarus and in the Baltic states.

The first deportation of Jews to Belarus took place on November 14, 1941. The transport garnered little attention among the Czech public. “The operation took place without complications,” can be read in one of the contemporary Prague Police reports.

'Forgotten Transport' | Photo: Czech Television

One of history’s darkest chapters is recalled in director Lukáš Přibyl’s four part documentary series ‘Forgotten Transport’, which looks at the deportation of Czech Jews to North Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Survivors from the transports recall how they were moved into Belarus, as well as their time in the Minsk Ghetto and in the Maly Trostenets concentration camp.

Those who were unfit for work were liquidated. Tens of thousands of Jews are reported to have been shot in the nearby pine forest. Those who did survive were later transported to the either the Majdanek death camp, or the Plaszow and Flossenbürg concentration camps.

In total, 22,000 Czech Jews were deported to Belarus during the war. Just 22 survived the ordeals of the camps.