Coordinates: 53°41′00″N 27°08′00″E / 53.68333°N 27.13333°E / 53.68333; 27.13333

Country  Belarus
Voblast Minsk Region
Raion Dzyarzhynsk Raion
Founded 1146
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 25,164
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 222720
Area code(s) +375 1716
License plate 5
Website Official website

Dzyarzhynsk or Dzerzhinsk; formerly Koydanava (Belarusian: Дзяржы́нск Dziaržynsk [dzʲarˈʐɨnsk]; Russian: Дзержинск), in the Dzyarzhynsk Raion of Belarus, is a city with a history dating to the 11th century.


1st century–17th century

According to archeological data, a settlement existed on the site of the city more than 2,000 years ago. The first mention of it in written sources dates back to the 13th century.

In the Middle Ages, the village, then called Kojdanów, belonged to the Radziwiłłs, a Polish aristocratic family. It was known as Kojdanava / Koidanova townlet of Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire.

In 1439 Duke Mikhail Zhygimontavich founded in Koidanova one of the oldest Belarussian catholic churches. After the death of Zhygimontavich, Koidanova was a possession of Polish King and Lithuanian Duke Kazimir IV. In 1483 Kazimir presented Koidanova to Duke Vasil Viareiski. In 1506–39 Koidanova was known as a possession of Vilna voevoda Albrecht Gashtold. His wife Zof`ya was a daughter of Viareiski. In 1539–50, Koidanova was a possession of Polish King and Lithuanian Duke Sigizmund I.

The "Golden Age" of Koidanova was from the end of the 16th century until the first half of the 17th century. The population grew from 1,000 in 1588, to more than 1,500 in 1647.

The oldest Koidanova streets were Vilenskaya, Menskaya, Stan`kovskaya, Rubiazhevitskaya, Slutskaya, Pliaban`skaya, and Rynachnaya (Market) square. Beginning in 1588 Koidanava had a fair every week, and two large fairs, at which merchants from Prussia and other countries took part.

Jews lived in Koidanova as early as 1620. In 1654 Moscow troops of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich invaded the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a union between the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, formed in 1569), and on July 11, 1655, the cossacks of Ukrainian Getman Zalatarenka burned down Koidanova and killed all its inhabitants.[2]

18th century–1940

The 18th century was one of reconstruction for the city. Several new streets were built, and the Jewish population grew to more than 560 in 1766. In 1781 a great fire destroyed half of the city's houses. Beginning in 1793, the city was under Russian rule. In 1796, Russian Emperor Pavel I visited Koidanova. During the war between Russia and France in 1812, on November 3 Russian troops in Koidanova defeated a French detachment of General Kasetski.[2]

Jewish community

Koidanova became the site of a new Hasidic Jewish dynasty in 1833 when Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Perlow (1797–1862) became the first Koidanover Rebbe.[3] He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Boruch Mordechai Perlow (1818–1870), grandson, Rabbi Aharon Perlow (1839–1897), and great-grandson, Rabbi Yosef Perlow of Koidanov-Minsk (1854-1915), who was the last Koidanover Rebbe to live in the town. After World War I, the dynasty was moved to Baranovichi, Poland.[4]

In 1847, Koidanova had 2,497 Jewish inhabitants.[2] In 1897 the city had a total population of 4,744, of whom 3,156 were Jews.[5]

The main Jewish occupations in Koidanova were handicraft and trade. Jews were known as blacksmiths, locksmiths, tailors, etc. Business increased with the building of the "Moscow-Warsaw" railway near the city in 1865. In 1886, the city had about 248 Jewish farming families. In 1899, a match plant "Druzhyna" was built in the city, which in 1900 employed 208 workers.

After World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, German troops occupied the city from February until November, 1918. The city was under Polish occupation from 1919 to 1920, during which time Polish troops organized a Jewish pogrom and burned a major part of Koidanova. In March 1921, the Communists signed a treaty with Poland, according to which the city became a Soviet shtetl on the Polish-Soviet border until 1939.

In May 1932 it was granted the status of a city and was renamed Kojdanaŭ (Belarusian: Койданаў), Russian: Koidanov. In June of that year it was renamed again as Dziaržynsk by the Communist authorities, in honor of Felix Dzerzhinsky (1877–1926), a famous Bolshevik creator and chief of the "Cherezvychainaya Komissija" (CHEKA) – the Soviet secret police -who was born in a Dziaržynava estate not far from the city.[2]

The city was the capital of the short-lived Dzierzynszczyzna Polish Autonomous District during 1932–38.

World War II

It fell under German occupation during World War II.

The Lithuanian Twelfth Schutzmannschaft (auxiliary police) Battalion's 1st Company, led by Lieutenant Z. Kemzura, massacred between 1,000 and 1,900 Jews from the city on October 21, 1941, shooting them and throwing them into a pit; many were buried alive.[6][7][8][9] As it is reported in The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry: "For three hours the earth covering the mass grave would move; people still alive were trying to crawl out of their grave."[8] In July 1942, the Einsatzgruppen killed several thousand Jews in Koidanov.[10] The city was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on July 6, 1944.[2]

Modern day

In 1998, the city had 24,700 inhabitants.[11]

Now part of Belarus, the name Kojdanava (Belarusian: Койданава) is becoming popular again (it is the official name for the railway station of Dziarzhynsk), but the official name remains unchanged.


The highest point of Belarus, Dziaržynskaja Hara, is several kilometers from Dziaržynsk.

Notable residents

  • Avrom Reyzen (1876–1953), Yiddish writer, poet, and editor
  • Aharon Perlow (1839–1897) – third rebbe of Koidanov

See also


External links

  • Dzerzhinsk (in Russian)
  • Photos on Radzima.org
  • Map of Dziaržynsk
  • "Why won't Britain jail this war criminal?; The UK has been a haven to 400 Nazi murderers. All but one have got away with it," The Observer, 2 September, 2001

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