Khatyn Memorial, Belarus

I visited Khatyn memorial on my visit to Belarus in 2013. It had been a village of 26 houses and 156 inhabitants  50 km away from Minsk. On 22 March 1943, almost the entire population of the village was massacred by the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118. The battalion was composed of Nazi collaborators and assisted by the Dirlewanger Waffen-SS special battalion. The villagers were herded into a wooden shed and burnt alive.

The massacre was not an unusual incident in Belarus during World War II. At least 5,295 Belarusian settlements were burned and destroyed by the Nazis, and often all their inhabitants were killed (some amounting up to 1,500 victims) as a punishment for collaboration with partisans.  Altogether, over 2,000,000 people were killed in Belarus during the three years of Nazi occupation, almost a quarter of the region’s population.