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|Bezirk of the Greater German Reich|
|Political subdivisions||8 kreisskomissariats|
Bezirk Bialystok ("district or region of Białystok"), also Belostok, was an administrative unit that existed during the World War II occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany. It was located to the south-east of East Prussia, in present-day northeastern Poland as well as smaller sections of adjacent Belarus and Lithuania.
The territory lay to the east of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line and was consequently occupied by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In the aftermath of the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, this western portion of then-Belarus, which until 1939 belonged to the Polish state was placed under German Civilian Administration (Zivilverwaltungsgebiet). As Bezirk Bialystok, the area was under German rule from 1941 to 1944/1945, without ever formally being incorporated into the German Reich.
The district was established because of its perceived military importance as a bridgehead on the far bank of the Memel. Germany had desired to annex the area even during the First World War, based on the historical claim arising from the Third Partition of Poland, which had delegated Białystok to Prussia from 1795 to 1806 (see New East Prussia).
In contrast to most other territories that lay east of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line and which were permanently annexed by the Soviet Union following the Second World War, most of the territory was later returned to Poland.
The first decree for the implementation of Civil Administration in these newly occupied eastern territories was issued on 17 July 1941. The borders of this area ran from the southeastern protrusion of East Prussia (the Suwalki triangle) following the Neman river up to Mosty (excluding Grodno), including Volkovysk and Pruzhany up to the Bug River to the west of Brest-Litovsk and then following the border of the General Government to East Prussia.
The establishment of Bezirk Bialystok followed on 1 August 1941; it was simultaneously excluded from the operational zones of the German Army in the Soviet Union. From then until 1944, Gestapo and SS engaged in executions in the area, for example in the Nowosiółki forests near Choroszcze, where 4,000 people were executed. Other places of execution and atrocity existed like in the Osuszek forest near the village of Piliki.
At the same time, some small areas to the east of the 1939–1941 German-Soviet border were incorporated into the East Prussian district of Scharfenwiese. With this the city of Scharfenwiese henceforth held more hinterland to the east.
The center of administration for the eponymous Bezirk Bialystok was the city of Białystok. The East Prussian Higher President and Gauleiter Erich Koch from Königsberg (modern-day Kaliningrad) was appointed Civilian Commissioner for the area, later Chief of Civil Administration (Chef-der-Zivilverwaltung).
The first stage of the Nazi persecutions mainly involved applying collective punishment to various villages where any form of resistance had been identified. 'Pacification' operations were enacted to crush any resistance movements, stop assistance to independence movements and round up escaped POWs and persecute Jews. The process involved all or most buildings of villages being destroyed, possessions being robbed, and the local population either being murdered or sent to labor camps or prisons.
During the night of 15–16 August 1943, the Białystok Ghetto Uprising began. This was an insurrection in Poland's Białystok Ghetto by several hundred Polish Jews who began an armed struggle against the German troops finishing off the liquidation of the 15,000 people still living in the Ghetto. This Ghetto's victims were ultimately destined for the Treblinka extermination camp. It was organized and led by Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa, an organisation that was part of the Anti-Fascist Block, and was the second largest ghetto uprising, after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.
On 20 October 1943 the southern border between the East Prussian district Sudauen (Suwałki) in the Province of East Prussia and Bezirk Bialystok was adjusted and moved back to the northern side of the Augustów Canal.
Bialystok District was divided into eight county-level administrative units, called district police stations (German: kreiskommissariate, Polish: komisariatów powiatowych). These were the police stations Bialystok (Kreiskommissariat Nikolaus), Bielsk-Podlaski (Kreiskommissariat Tubenthal), Grajewski (Kreiskommissariat Piachor, then Knispel), Grodno (Kreiskommissariat Plötz), łomża (Kreiskommissariat Gräben), Sokolski (Kreiskommissariat Seiler), Volkovysk (Kreiskommissariat Pfeifer) and the city of Białystok.
Erich Koch was appointed "civil commissioner" (Zivilkommissar) on August 1, 1941, and later appointed as Chief of Civil Administration (Chef der Zivilverwaltung) of Bezirk Bialystok until 27 July 1944. During this period, he was the Gauleiter of East Prussia and Reichskommissar in Reichskommissariat Ukraine.
Day-to-day activities were handled by his permanent deputy head of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) in Königsberg, East Prussia, Waldemar Magunia from 15 August 1941 until 31 January 1942. He was replaced on 1 February 1942 until 27 July 1944 by Friedrich de Brix, Landrat (District Mayor) (German: Landratsamt) of Tilsit.
At the time of its establishment, Bezirk Bialystok had a population consisting of 1,383,000 inhabitants. Of these 830,000 were of Polish, 300,000 of White Ruthenian (Belarussian), 200,000 of Ukrainian, 50,000 of Jewish and 2,000 of German origin.
- Ostland Atlas
- Boog, Horst (1998). Germany and the Second World War: The attack on the Soviet Union. Oxford University Press. p. 1239. ISBN 0-19-822886-4.
- Kroener, Bernhard R.; Müller, Rolf-Dieter; Umbreit, Hans (2000). Germany and the Second World War:Organization and mobilization of the German sphere of power. Wartime administration, economy, and manpower resources 1939-1941. Oxford University Press. p. 172. ISBN 0-19-822887-2.
- Represje hitlerowskie wobec wsi białostockiej (Nazis’ Repressive Measures against the country around Białystok)» by Marcin Markiewicz Bulletin of the Institute of National Remembrance (Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej), issue: 121 pages: 65-68
- Biuletyn IPN nr 35-36 (12/2003-1/2004) - ISSN: 1641-9561
- Gnatowski M., „Białostockie Zgrupowanie Partyzanckie". Białystok 1994