Before World War I in Białystok lived about 50,000 Jews and it was about a half of the city's population. They played a main role in the city's industralization and transformation. The city was also a birth place of Dr. Lazar Lewis Zamenhof, an inventor of Esperanto. In the summer of 1905 and 1906 dozens of Jews were killed in series of pogroms. Many Jews left city during World War I, due its German occupation.

The reoccupation began in 1941. On "Bloody Friday" (27 June 1941) several hundred Jews were killed in the outskirts of the city. In August 1941 a ghetto was established in Białystok. It was set up in a small area divided by the Biała River and was set up for 43,000 Jews.

In July 1943 the Germans begun to liquidate the ghetto. The ghetto had a population of 30,000 and the decision  of its liquidation was kept in secret. Between 17 and 23 August 1943 about 26,000 Jews were deported from ghetto, about 4,000 to Auschwitz, 7,600 to Treblinka and 15,000 to labor camps in Lublin District.

It is said that about 150 inhabitants of the ghetto succeeded in escaping from the ghetto.[1.1]

  • [1.1] The Yad vashem Encyclopedia of Ghettos during Holocaust, pp.47-53, ed. G. Miron, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2009