The memorial in the village of Kaldycheva is dedicated to civilian victims who died in a concentration camp near the village. These victims included Jewish and Polish civilians, including Catholic priests, Roma and partizanes. The small village of Kaldycheva (bel. Калды́чэва) is located in the Baranovichi district in the west of modern Belarus. Between 1920 and 1939 this territory belonged to Poland. When the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Poland in September 1939, this territory became part of the Belarusian Soviet Republic. The entire Baranavichy district, including Kaldycheva, was occupied by the Wehrmacht at the end of June 1941 for three years before the liberation of the region during Operation Bagration on 30 June 1944.
At the end of 1941 in Kaldycheva in the former local aristocrat's estate was created a labor camp. The initiator of this was Valdemar Amelung, the commander of the Baranavichy SD-branch. First were the Soviet prisoners of war and communists from the Baranavichy and Stolbtsy prisons, later Jews from the ghettos of neighboring towns, mainly artisans serving German soldiers, as well as Roma, Polish and Belarusian civilians, Catholic priests and partizanes were gathered there.
In 1942, the camp became a death camp. The commander of the camp was Fritz Jörn, the SS Hauptscharführer, and the guards consisted of Belarusian collaborators from the 13th Auxiliary Assistance Battalion (Weissruthenische-Polizei SD-Bataillon nr 13), including Nikolai Bobko, Sergei Kаlko, and Sergei Khutyrchik. Jews were housed in former stables, some prisoners were kept in a specially built prison, as well as in maintenance buildings, and some sources mention that many prisoners were kept outdoors. The camp was fenced with barbed wire, surrounded by gun posts and constantly guarded by people and dogs. It is estimated that up to 10,000 people were permanently present in the camp, carrying out heavy forced labour in peat fields or craft workshops. Prisoners in the camp were required to wear differentiating marks to indicate their nationality. Several thousand prisoners were killed here at firing ranges in the surrounding areas (Mihnowschina, Pagarelcy, Arabowschyna), and in 1944 a train with Jews was sent to Auschwitz. According to the memories of eyewitnesses, several Roma camps were also shot in the camp.
There was a small Jewish resistance group in the camp, organized by Schlomo Kushnir, and with their help 93 Jewish prisoners escaped on March 17, 1944. 24 of them were arrested again, including Kushnir, who committed suicide, but 75 fled and joined the Jewish guerrilla group of the Belski brothers. At the end of June 1944, when the Soviet army was approaching the camp, the SS cleared the camp and executed the remaining prisoners.
The State Emergency Commission estimated the total death toll at 22,000 people.
The first memorial appeared in the village of Kaldycheva on July 3, 1964 in honour of the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the BSSR from the Nazi invaders. It represents two memorial stones and a monument with a bas-relief. On one of the stones, there is an inscription in the Belarusian language: "Людзі, спыніцеся! Тут у гады Вялікай Айчыннай вайны быў Калдычэўскі лагер смерці. 22 тысячы мірных грамадзян загінулі ад рук гітлераўскіх катаў" ("People, stop! During the Great Patriotic War Kaldycheva's death camp was here. 22 thousand civilians died by the hands of Hitler's executioners"). Another stone contains a poem in the Belarusian language (authorship is not established): "Калі кажуць, што попел маўчыць, не верце /не верце, што пад нагамі маўклівы жвір / Слухайце загад ад ахвяр нашага жыцця і смерці / Шануйце мір і сцеражыце яго" ("When they say, that ashes are silent, don't believe it / don't believe that there is silent sand under your feet / Listen to the covenant from the sacrifices of our life and death / Appreciate the world and keep it safe"). The monument in the middle is a white fragment of a concrete wall about 3 meters high, in the upper third of which is a bas-relief depicting a man tearing a barbed wire. The architect of the memorial was A. Kurochkin.
About two kilometres north of the village, in 2007, another memorial, named «the Wailing Wall», was installed, where all groups of victims were included. It has the shape of a gate with three arches of white concrete about 4 metres high. The Russian inscription «Вечная память жертвам фашизма» ("Eternal memory of the victims of fascism") is placed in front of the gate. Three plaques had been placed on the columns in 2008 in several languages, which were dedicated to different groups of victims: Jews, Poles, Belarusians and Roma. The plaques were made of black granite and were approximately 70 centimetres high and 40 centimetres long. The inscriptions on them in gold letters are as follows: on the left-most plaque «Тэ явэл тумаро ело ангил Дэвлэстэ / Няхай вашы душы будуць каля Бога / Niech wasze dusze będa blisko Boga / 2008 / Беларуская цыганская дыяспара» (Translation: "May your souls be at God's disposal), the plaque also depicts the Orthodox and Catholic crosses and the wheel of a Roma caravan. On the plaque in the middle of the monument is written: «В этом районе в годы войны было уничтожено почти все еврейское население / 2008 / Белорусский союз еврейсов» ("In this area during the war almost all the Jewish population was destroyed / 2008 / Belarusian Union of Jews") and the translation of this inscription into Hebrew and Polish, the Mogen David is depicted from above. On the rightmost plaque is written «Pamięci zamordowanych w Koldyczewie 1942-1944 / Памяти замучаным в Колдычево 1942-1944 / Саюз палякаў на Беларусі / 2008 AD» (translation: "Memory of the tortured in Kaldycheva 1942-1944 / the Union of Poles in Belarus") and there is the image of the Orthodox and Catholic crosses. The text contains grammatical errors and typos, which were made for an unknown reason. At the top of the gate are the wooden Mogen David and two crosses, Catholic and Orthodox.
Both monuments are regularly visited by local residents and relatives of the deceased, and flowers are laid on the holidays, e.g. May 9 (Victory Day) and July 3 (Independence Day of Belarus, also the Day of Liberation of Belarus from the Nazi invaders). The monument was also unveiled on July 3, 2007 with the participation of representatives of the district administration, the Union of Poles in Belarus, the Jewish community and relatives of the victims of the Nazi concentration camp. However, there is no information about any annual official ceremonies.
The monument causes controversy in the public discussion because it does not cover the infamous role of Belarusian collaborators in the mass killings. Some subjective Polish Internet sources argue that crimes in the Kaldycheva death camp were motivated by the ethnic hatred of Belarusians towards Poles.
Kaldycheva is one of the three places in Belarus and ten in the post-Soviet space, where the public memory of the Roma extermination is preserved.
The monument is located on the 16th kilometer of the Baranavichy-Navahrudak highway at the entrance to the Mikhnavichy Forest between the villages of Mikhnowschyna and Kaldycheva. Access to it is not restricted. There are no guided tours.
Coordinates: 53° 16'47.88 "N, 26° 3'42.87 "E
The monument was installed thanks to the petitions of the former resident of the nearby-village Stanislav Lihuta, seven relatives of whom died in this death camp. In 2005, by the decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the place of the camp in Kaldycheva received the status of a memorial, and the design and construction of the monument was funded then. As a result, the design of the monument was developed by the joint efforts of the Union of Poles in Belarus, the Polish architect W. Matelski and the Minsk Union of Architects. Architects worked voluntary in memory of the victims of the war. M. I. Danilkevich, a resident of the village Mikhnowshchyna at the time of war, helped to locate the places of Jewish, Polish and Roman burials.
At the moment the Baranovichi district executive committee takes care of the monument.
3. Kotljarchuk, A., “World War II Memory Politics: Jewish, Polish and Roma Minorities of Belarus” // The Journal of Belarusian Studies. 2013:1, pp. 7- 37.
4. Блінец А. Калдычэва – праклятая прыгажосць // Андрэй Блінец. Клецк. Клецкий район. Новости Клецка и Клецкого района. Да новых перамог. Районная газета – 2010. URL: http://www.kleck.by/?p=1244
5. Кісялёў Г.К, Р.Б. Венцэль, М.К. Дзёмін i iнш. «Памяць. Баранавічы. Баранавіцкi раён» – Мн.: «БЕЛТА», 2000. — 736 с.
6. Адамушко В. И., Бирюкова О. В., Крюк В. П., Кудрякова Г. А. Справочник о местах принудительного содержания гражданского населения на оккупированной территории Беларуси 1941-1944. — Мн.: Национальный архив Республики Беларусь, Государственный комитет по архивам и делопроизводству Республики Беларусь, 2001. — 158 с.
9. Котлярчук, А. (2014) Нацистский геноцид цыган: Советская и постсоветская политика памяти в сравнительной перспективе = The Nazi genocide of Roma: Soviet and post-Soviet memory politics in comparative perspective. In: Nazi Genocide of Roma and Jews in Eastern Europe. International Forum. Museum of Jewish Heritage and Holocaust. Moscow February, 2013. URL: http://www.diva-portal.se/smash/get/diva2:749136/FULLTEXT01.pdf