This small, from the first sight, urban settlement has a rather interesting and, what is important, long history. In fact, Derechin is a historical center of all Slonim neighborhoods. In order to see its true meaning, let us refer to the timeline.
History in the centuries
For the first time Derechin, at that time the village, was mentioned in the annals of the early XV century, being the estate of Lord Dramata. However, this place hardly passed from generation to generation – rather, it went "hand in hand". The families of Kopachevskies, Volovichies, Polubinskies used to live there.
Along with the latest owners Derechin (which had received the status of a town as long as in the XVI century, particularly in 1537) began to expand and develop. A monastery with a hospital at the monastery and a wooden Church were built there, and also a complete inventory of the settlement was compiled. According to the calculation, the population of Derechin amounted to 430 people at that time.
A new milestone in the life of the town became its transfer into the possession of the family of Sapieha, particularly, its accession to his lands due to the marriage of Isabella Polubinska with one of the members of the genus. And when the owner was the famous Chancellor of Lithuania, Alexander Sapieha, the history of Derechin saw the "Golden time".
At that time, in 1797, a magnificent Palace was built. It was surrounded by a cozy garden, large areas of alleys and the park, where such exotic for the mid-latitude plants as figs, oranges, pomegranates, and pineapples were grown. The Palace had the richest and one of the largest in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania library, which is not surprising, taking into account the tendency of reading and collecting books among many prominent kins. There was also a separate art gallery that had collected masterpieces of European (and not only) art. According to some reports, it contained about 300 paintings.
Unfortunately, that "Belarusian Versailles" was looted and destroyed during subsequent wars and attacks that befell this small town. For some time it belonged to Poland from 1921 to 1939. Then Derechin experienced a short-term, but a rather dark period.
The Second World War
It is worth noting that in 1830, more than 3 700 Jews lived in the area of the town. In the prewar years, the number of them had significantly decreased, but it still amounted to an impressive figure of 1346 people according to the census of the year 1921. It is not surprising that when the German troops occupied the land, their "cleaning program" had led to the decision to make the place a ghetto. It was located near the Church and was quite close to the settlement with the remaining locals. This, in turn, had a certain advantage, because at night they could secretly approach the fence and give the prisoners some food and clothing.
Needless to say, what atrocities were happening on the other side of the barbed wire? Suffice it to say that the attempt to escape of only 7 of the prisoners was punished by shooting as many as 150 Jews. The end of the story of the ghetto was also not the most pleasant – all the prisoners were executed at the end of July 1942. Thus, the total number of victims amounted to more than 4,000 people.
Of course, that tragic event did not pass by the inhabitants of the town, which is a part of Zelva district, Grodno region today. In 1948 the obelisk was erected in Derechin to cherish the memory of the victims, the Jews of the town. Flowers are brought to the obelisk up to this day.
Today, the town has completely recovered from the devastation and has a fairly developed infrastructure, being located on important highways of Mosty-Slonim and the Zelva-Medvinovichi.