The Trostenets Memorial Complex was built on the site of the Maly Trostenets extermination camp, established in the autumn of 1941 and operational until July 1944. It was the largest death camp on the territory of Belarus, and in the entire USSR. Citizens from the republics of the Soviet Union, as well as Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland were murdered here. The territory included: Shashkovka forest (cremation ground) Blagovshchina forest (execution ground) Maly Trostenets village (extermination camp facilities).
After the liberation from the Nazis, more than thirty mass graves were discovered here, some of which reached 50 meters in length, as well as cremation pits, where the Nazis burned the executed and gassed. These hellish furnaces were operating daily. In total, more than 206 thousand people died in Trostenets.
In 1963, an obelisk with an eternal flame was erected on the site of the former death camp. In 1965 monuments were built on the site of the crematorium furnace. In 2002 a memorial sign was unveiled on the site of the executions, and in 2015, the Gates of Memory memorial was installed. This is an important and powerfully visual memorial. It is imposing and terrifying in one breath.
Many of the Jews from Germany and Austria were transported to Minsk where they were installed for a time in the Minsk Ghetto. They either perished in the ghetto or at Maly Trostenets. Some of the children of these ‘Hamburg Jews’ as they came to be known, survived on the ‘Kindertransport’ programme which brought them safely to the UK between 1938 and 1939.