Ilya Synagogue
Ilya Synagogue in New York, from Ilya Memorial Book

From Beth Hatefutsoth:

Birthplace Of Manasseh Ben Joseph. The Jewish Population Numbered 894 In 1847, 829 (58% Of The Total Population) In 1897, And 586 (40.2%) In 1921. On September 17, 1939, The Soviets Entered The Area. On The Outbreak Of War Between Germany And The U.S.S.R. On June 22, 1941, Some Jews Managed To Escape Eastward Into The Soviet Union. Ilya Was Occupied By The Germans In Early July. A Ghetto Was Set Up In Early October. In January 1942 The Youth Began To Organize And Make Contact With The Partisans. On Mar. 14, 1942, When Soviet Partisans Attacked The Chocienczyce Estate Near Ilya Some Jews Who Worked There Joined Them And Went Into Hiding With Them In The Forests. The Following Day The S.S. Arrived In Ilya And Accused The Jews Of Cooperating With The Partisans. On March 17 Jews Were Ordered To Assemble In The City Square. The Head Of The Judenrat, Josef Rodblat, Was Ordered To Hand Over Those Connected With The Partisans But He Refused To Cooperate, And Instead, With David Rubin, Encouraged Escape To The Forests. The Germans Immediately Began To Liquidate The Ghetto, Shooting The Sick And Aged On The Spot. Twenty Artisans And Their Families Were "Selected"; The Rest Of The Jews Were Brought To The Cold Storage Depot Built By The Soviets Nearby And Murdered. Subsequently, The S.S. Set Fire To The Depot And Burned The Bodies. Approximately 900 Persons Perished. The Remaining Members Of The Community Were Murdered On June 7, 1942.

From The Jews of Bielorussia During World War II, pp. 138, 211-212

Underground members from the Ilja ghetto, some seven kilometers from the former Soviet-Polish border, looked for contact with the partisans in the Minsk and Pleszczenice forests. After the Vidz ghetto received not too encouraging news from the forest and after a wounded partisan, Leib Wolak, was brought to the ghetto becasue there was no doctor in the forest to treat him, two underground members--Noah Svirsky of Hechalutz Hatzair and Zalman Silber–went to the forest to examine the conditions there. They met a group of partisans and came to an agreement with them that Jes from the ghetto would be permitted to join the units of the partisans. On their way back to the ghetto, Svirsky and Silber acquired a rifle, killed collaborators, and burned their houses. The first aktzia on Ilja on 17 March 1942, in which about 900 Jews were murdered, was carried out shortly after a partisan operation in the region. The second aktzia, on 7 July 1942, in which some 300 Jews were killed also came after another partisan attack. The second half of 1942, during which the pace of annihilation was greatly accelerated, was also a peak period of Jewish flight to the forests...

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