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Concentration Camps: Koldichevo

The Koldichevo concentration camp was established in the summer of 1942 on a farm of the same name. It was located 11 miles (18 km) from Baranovichi, on the highway to Novogrudok, Belorussia (which in the interwar period belonged to Poland). In November 1942, a crematorium was constructed in the camp, and 600 corpses were incinerated there.

The Koldichevo camp was used for imprisoning Polish and Belorussian members of the underground and Jews from Gorodishche, Diatlovo, Novogrudok, Stolbsty, and Baranovichi. The Jews were put into stables, in a separate part of the camp. The commandant of the camp was Fritz Jorn, an SS-Hauptscharfuhrer. During the period from 1942 to 1944, 22,000 people - mostly Jews - were murdered in Koldichevo. One of the prisoners in the camp, Dr. Zelik Levinbok of Baranovichi, managed to supply medicines in large quantities to the partisans, with the help of a local peasant who was his patient. Eventually, Levinbok himself, together with this wife and eight-year-old son, managed to escape and join the partisans. There was a Jewish underground in the camp, headed by Shlomo Kushnir, a shoemaker. Its members had two guns and four hand grenades, and a Jewish prisoner in the camp, who was a chemist, manufactured a quantity of acid to be used in self-defense.

By means of tools that they obtained, the prisoners breached a wall. They practiced moving slowly and crawling on all fours, sewed cloth onto the soles of their shoes, and equipped themselves with knives. On March 17, 1944, a stormy night, they broke out from the camp, having first poisoned the watchdogs. Twenty-four prisoners were recaptured, but 75 escaped to the partisans. Most joined the unit of Tuvia Bielski.

Sources: Museum of Tolerance - Courtesy of "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust"