About Belarus

The history of Zhlobin or Zlobin, Gomel region

updated on 30/03/2017

Zhlobin is located in Gomel region, 220 km away from Minsk and 93 away from Gomel. 

In the course of the Russian-Polish wars town Zlobin was mentioned in a letter to the Moscow Tsar in 1664 – that’s the first official date in the history of today’s Zhlobin. The Khodkevichys owned these lands in the 1600s and 1700s. 

In 1793 the second partition of Rech Pospolitaya puts Zhlobin in Mogilev Gubernia of the Russian Empire. In 1919 it becomes a part of the Soviet Belarus.

zhlobin old map

Old map of Zhlobin

In 1873 Libau-Romno railway passed through the town and boosted the town’s growth and the other railway a couple decades later turned Zhlobin into a major railway hub. In fact, Zhlobin got the title of a town only in 1925. All the time before and after it looked like and felt like a huge village.

At the turn of the 19 century Jews made about a half of the town’s population. Bobruisk, Rogachev and Gomel were nearby. They were mostly artisans – tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths and craftsmen of other kinds. The list of survivors has Goreliks, Berkovich, Greenbergs, Melameds and others.

By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War 3700 Jews resided in town, making 19 per cent of the population (other sources suggest 7000 that made 70 per cent). Zhlobin was captured by the Nazi in August 1941 giving many a chance to evacuate. Those who left behind were forced into two tiny ghettos whose buildings are still standing.

Jewish community of Zhlobin was destroyed in April 1942 – in the Lebedevka suburb from 2500 to 4000 people were shot. No name lists have been found and with men serving in the Red Army the executed were mostly women, children and elderly. Only four kids escaped death – a girl was handed over by her mother to a prewar friend and a boy had fallen into the pit before shots were fired. 

Boris Makovsky living in Zhlobin doesn’t remember his parents or knows his real surname – a two-year-old was saved and brought up by Tina Makovskaya who was recognized as the Righteous Gentile of the World in 1996.

Another mass grave nearby accommodates about 500 Jews from Streshin – a Jewish collective farm whose prisoners shared the grim fate with the Zhlobin Jews in April 1942. 

At school No 5 that was Jewish until 1939 and was rebuilt after the war they tried to restore the lists of the pupils. Too many names were Jewish and in view of the USSR’s Jewish policy after the war the project was buried. Only in the 1980s an attempt to put some names together was named with about 30 per cent of the community listed.

Today about 80 000 people live in Zhlobin but there’s neither community nor a synagogue. The cemeteries are gone.

Jewish Memorials in Zhlobin


Questions are welcome!

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