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Basic Information

Location 53.450078, 25.400046
Country Belarus
City Dziatlava

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 53.44991,25.39928


Dzyatlava (Belarusian: Дзятлава, Lithuanian: Zietela, Russian: Дятлово, Polish: Zdzięcioł, Yiddish: זשעטל Zhetl) is a town in Belarus in the Hrodna voblast, about 165 km southeast of Hrodna. The population is 8,900 (1995).

Dzyatlava was first referenced in documents from 1498, when it was granted to Prince Konstantin Ostrogski, who later built a wooden castle there. In the 17th century the settlement was owned by Lew Sapieha, who ordered a Catholic church to be erected on the main city square. The church was consecrated in 1646, renovated after a fire in 1743 and still stands. During the Great Northern War of the anti-Swedish alliance, Peter I of Russia visited Dzyatlava and stayed there for a week in January 1708. In the 18th century, the town was owned by Polish magnate Stanisław Sołtyk, who built a Baroque residence there in 1751.

Until World War II, Zdzięcioł (now Dzyatlava) belonged to the eastern part of the Second Polish Republic. It was the seat of Gmina Zdzięcioł in Nowogródek Voivodeship. The population was composed predominantly of Polish Jews. The Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939, and stationed in the Voivodeship area until the outbreak of their own war with Germany in June 1941. After the Soviet rapid retreat, and several months of Nazi ad hoc persecution, on February 22, 1942 the new German authorities officially created Zdzięcioł Ghetto. For more details on this topic, see Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland.

During the Holocaust, about 1,500 Jews were killed near the town in the Zdzięcioł massacres of 1942. The old Jewish cemetery is considered a minor landmark.

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