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or Witebsk Ghetto
was a short-lived ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...
. It was created soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It was created immediately after Germans took the town of Vitebsk
Vitebsk, also known as Viciebsk or Vitsyebsk , is a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia. The capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants, making it the country's fourth largest city...
on 11 July 1941.
Approximately 16,000 Jews lived in the ghetto. In October, the Nazi
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...
administrators declared that the poor conditions in the ghetto created a health hazard for local inhabitants and that an epidemics had started in the ghetto; in fact, this declaration was a pretext to move and massacre the Jews. Less than three months later, on 8 October 1941, the Nazis began a massacre of the Vitebsk Jews, which ended on 11 October with the deaths of most of the ghetto's inhabitants (sources vary as to the exact number). Many bodies were disposed in the nearby Vitba river.