Permanent exposition in memory of Bereza-Kartuzskaya concentration camp victims opened
Anyone visiting the Red Barracks in Bereza – where one of the most brutal concentration camps in Europe operated under Polish rule – can definitely understand the significance and importance of National Unity Day for Belarusians. A permanent exhibition in memory of its victims was opened in one of the buildings where a terrible conveyor of torture was once located.
As noted by the Chairman of the Bereza District Executive Committee, Sergei Bartosh, such facts should never be forgotten so that the horrors of the past would not be repeated. “A concentration camp operated in Bereza-Kartuzskaya for five long years. People – who wished to be masters on their land and to speak their native language – were kept there and were subjected to inhuman tortures,” he said.
Galina Kravchuk, a senior researcher at the Bereza Local Lore Museum, added, “During our work over the exhibition, we collected materials stored in the museum's funds. Visitors can get acquainted with the panorama of the camp territory. A punishment cell has been revamped, and photos, personal files and written memoirs of prisoners are available. People were forbidden to talk, to look at each other and even sit down on bunk beds: they had to stand or sit on a cold floor. Hungry prisoners were sent to perform hard physical work and were mercilessly beaten for the slightest remark or even without reason.”
In turn, history teacher Vadim Plis is convinced that visiting such places is especially important for young generations. “The hair stands on end when learning of the local conditions. Prisoners were starved and tortured with cold in dark punishment cells. They were forced to crawl, jump like a frog or walk like a duck. All commands were executed only by running, and the executioners’ main goal was to break prisoners physically and psychologically, to turn them into slaves. September 1939, when Belarusians united, put an end to those inhuman trials. Later, Belarusians defended their right to freedom and independence together with other USSR nations during the Great Patriotic War. We must cherish our values, traditions, and memory sacredly,” he stated.