Operation Hermann (i)

'Hermann' (i) was a German operation in the Belorussian region of the German-occupied western USSR by a combined force of Sicherheitsdienst personnel, police and SS troops of the Kampfgruppe 'von Gottberg' under the command of SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Curt von Gottberg, supported by Latvian and Ukrainian collaborator units, against so-called partisans (largely Jews and other 'undesirables') in the north-western part of Belorussia, and more specifically in the areas of Iwie, Nowogródek, Wołoszyn and Stołpce (13 July/11 August 1943).

The operation targeted the area of Ivenets and Naliboki as well as the forested area to the west of Minsk. The operation destroyed the ghetto of Glebokie, and unsuccessfully attacked the base area of the Bielski group of Jewish partisans in Naliboki forest of which large areas were burned. Some 4,280 persons were killed, and another 20,954 taken for forced labour. During the operation the German Kampfgruppen destroyed settlements in the area, burning more than 60 Polish and Belorussian villages.

A Polish Armia Krajowa (home army) unit led by Kacper Miłaszewski lost 120 men and was forced out of the forest. The Bielski partisan grouping, based in the Naliboki forest, managed to evade capture and escaped into the Jasinowo forest after splitting into small groups.

Following the operation, the communities around the Naliboki forest were laid waste. The Germans deported to Germany the non-Jewish residents fit for work as slave labour, and murdered most of the rest. Before this, homeless refugees were for the most part Jews who had escaped their ghettos, but in the autumn of 1943 non-Jewish Belorussian, Polish and Roma people who managed to escape the German undertaking roamed the forest. Many joined partisan units, some entered special family camps set up by the Soviets, and others joined the Bielski partisan group, which returned to the area and now accepted anyone wishing to join it. While the Germans destroyed many communities, much was left in and around the forest that could sustain life. Fields, orchards, and beehives all had their produce and farm animals roamed the area around the forest.