|Byelorussian Auxiliary Police|
|Active||from July 1941|
|Role||Nazi security warfare|
The Holocaust in Belarus
The Byelorussian Auxiliary Police (Belarusian: Беларуская дапаможная паліцыя, romanized: Biełaruskaja dapamožnaja palicyja; German: Weißruthenische Schutzmannschaften, or Hilfspolizei) was a collaborationist paramilitary force established in July 1941. Staffed by local inhabitants from German-occupied Byelorussia, it had similar functions to those of the German Ordnungspolizei in other occupied territories.
The activities of the formation were supervised by defense police departments, local commandants' offices, and garrison commandants. The units consisted of one police officer for every 100 rural inhabitants and one police officer for every 300 urban inhabitants. Ordnungspolizei was in charge of guard duty, and included both stationary and mobile posts plus groups of orderlies. It was subordinate to the defense police leadership.
Byelorussian Auxiliary Police participated in civilian massacres across villages on the territory of modern-day Belarus; dubbed the anti-partisan actions. The role of the local policemen was crucial in the totality of procedures, as only they – wrote Martin Dean – knew the identity of the Jews.
The German Order Police battalions as well as Einsatzgruppen carried out the first wave of killings. The pacification actions were conducted using experienced Byelorussian auxiliary guards in roundups (as in Gomel, Mazyr, Kalinkavichy, Karma). The Byelorussian police took on a secondary role in the first stage of the killings. The ghettoised Jews were controlled and brutalized before mass executions (as in Dobrush, Chachersk, Zhytkavichy).
After a while the auxiliary police, being locals, not only led the Jews out of the ghettos to places of massacres but also took active part in the shooting actions. Such tactic was successful (without much exertion of force) in places where the destruction of the Jews was carried out in early September, and throughout October and November 1941. In winter 1942, a different tactic was used – the killing raids in Zhlobin, Pietrykaw, Streszyn, Chachersk. The role of the Byelorussian police in the killings became particularly noticeable during the second wave of the ghetto liquidation actions, starting in February–March 1942.
During Operation Cottbus which began on 20 May 1943 in the areas of Begoml, Lyepyel and Ushachy, a number of Belarusian auxiliary police battalions took part in the mass murder of unarmed civilians (predominantly Jews), along with the SS Special Battalion Dirlewanger and other destruction units. They included the 46th Byelorussia Battalion from Novogrodek, the 47th Byelorussia Battalion from Minsk, the 51st Byelorussia Battalion from Volozhin, and the 49th Byelorussia Battalion also from Minsk.
Little is known about the specifics of the wartime atrocities committed by the Byelorussian Auxiliary Police in the vast number of small communities both across the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union and in Soviet Belarus because the Byelorussian police's involvement in the Holocaust is not acknowledged publicly in the country. Article 28 in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, under the "Procedures Governing Access to Documents Containing Information Relating to the Secret Life of Private Citizens" (added in July 1996) denies access to information about Belarusians who served with the Nazis. "The official memorial narrative allows only a pro-Soviet version of the resistance to the German invaders."
Note 16: Archive of the author; Note 17: M. Dean, Collaboration in the Holocaust.