Belarusian Central Council

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Belarusian Central Council
Seal of Belarusian Central Council.svg.png
Fullname: Belarusian Central Council
Alias: Belarusian Central Rada
Origin: Byelorussian SSR
Foundation: March 1, 1943
Headquarters: Minsk, Belarus
Commanders: Radasłaŭ Astroŭski
Goals: Wipe out all Jews in Belarus (failed)
Crimes: Genocide
Mass murder
Ethnic cleansing
War crimes

The Belarusian Central Council, also known as the Belarusian Central Rada, was a Nazi organization installed by Germany as the primary governing body of Belarus during their occupation of the country during World War II.


Immediately after the 1941 attack on the Soviet positions in Operation Barbarossa, the mass persecution of Jews by the Schutzstaffel forward units of of the Einsatzgruppen began under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe. Jews were massacred and ghettos were formed in dozens of towns with the participation of Belarusian collaborators who were given various prominent roles. The Belarusian Auxiliary Police was established and deployed to murder operations particularly in February–March 1942.

Following Germany's rapid conquest, the Generalbezirk Weißruthenien district of RKO was formed which included the western and central parts of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in its 1941 borders (which included the towns of Hlybokaye, Vileyka, Navahrudak and other territories earlier annexed by the USSR from Poland). In 1942, the German civil authority was extended to Minsk, Slutsk and Barysaw. The area was to be made part of the Nazis' project of Lebensraum ("living space"), in which those deemed non-Aryan would be exterminated or expelled to make way for German colonists, while the remaining locals would be subject to forced Germanization. All attempts by the Belarusian representatives to request self-governance for the occupied Belarus led to German repressions against those who voiced such requests.

Generalreichskommissar Wilhelm Kube was appointed the German administrator of the area. He had his command center established in Minsk with a second Kommissar in Baranovichi. In September 1943, Kube was killed by his Belarusian mistress, who planted a bomb in his bed coerced by the Soviet agents who knew where her son was.

In order to drum up fresh troops for the front inside Reichskommissariat Ostland and to stimulate support from the Belarusian population and elites, General Reinhard Gehlen suggested to the German High Command that some concessions be made to the Belarusian collaborators in the form of a puppet state. The semi-autonomous local government was founded by Nazi Germany in December 1943, and named the Belarusian Central Council. Radasłaŭ Astroŭski, the mayor of Smolensk at that time, was appointed its president. General Kurt von Gottberg who replaced Kube, named the Belarusian politician Ivan Yermachenka, arriving from Prague, the "Advisor on Belarusian affairs."

The Belarusian Central Council only had a limited role in governing, with the key decisions being taken by the German administration of the Generalbezirk Weißruthenien. The Council mostly managed social affairs as well as culture and education. The Council had twelve departments including: Education, science and culture; Propaganda and press; Social security; Finance; Youth affairs; Religion; Control; Administrative issues; Economy; National minorities; and Home Defense.

The Belarusian Central Council oversaw the activities of Belarusian civic organizations established earlier under German permission including: Union of Belarusian Youth; Belarusian Scientific Society; Belarusian Cultural Association; Belarusian Self-Help; and labour unions. The Council has managed to widen the usage of the Belarusian language in schools and in public life, worked on the opening of a university.

Unlike earlier Belarusian collaborationist organizations, the Belarusian Central Council was better positioned with the German authorities to protect the interests of the Belarusian population from the Germans.