In the lead up to the massacre, Soviet partisans had failed to recruit the Poles of Naliboki, who were loyal to the pro-Western Armia Krajowa Polish resistance organization. An agreement was signed between the Soviets and the Poles represented by a partisan unit led by Eugeniusz Klimowicz. The Polish and Soviet resistance forces divided local territory, agreed not to attack each other, and to act together against the Germans and bandits hiding in the nearby forests. The Soviets however did not respect the agreement. On the night of May 8–9, 1943, Soviet partisans from the Naliboki Forest suddenly entered Naliboki to kill the Polish partisans and loot the town.
After the village was overrun by the Soviet partisans, men presumed to belong to the Polish resistance were rounded up and systematically executed one-by-one or in small groups near the homes they were taken from. Also killed during the attack were three Polish women, several teenagers and a ten-year-old boy. Houses were looted and then set on fire, including the town's church, school, fire station and post office. The raid took two to three hours. The partisans reported the killing of 250 people, the capture of weapons, 100 cows and 78 horses, and the destruction of a German garrison. In reality the number of victims was lower (now estimated at 120-129) and no Germans were present/killed (only one Belarusian auxiliary policeman happened to be sleeping in the town during the night of the attack). A few of the attackers, including a Soviet political officer, were killed by the defenders.
According to Polish witnesses accounts, the village was controlled by the "self-guarding" unit, manned by local Poles aimed to protect the villagers from the soviet partisan's regular raids. In 2009, Maria Adamcewicz, still residing in Naliboki, described the incident as follows: In the end [of the village], there was a chapel, and there they built a German outpost, for those "self-guards". When partisans approached, they were not shooting, they were burning. And when partisans came into the village, at this point "self-guards" started shooting. And they shoot dead some of partisans in the middle of the village. And when they wounded the senior one of the partisans, he said, "Beat and burn all, don't sort it out." After that, Maria claims, partisans started to shoot not only at "self-guards", but also at locals.
Naliboki was completely burned down by the Germans four months later, in August 1943, as part of a massive anti-partisan action code-named Operation Hermann. The remaining inhabitants were taken to Germany for forced labor.
It has been alleged that the Jewish Bielski partisans supported the Soviets (with whom they had a co-operative relationship) in the massacre. But survivors of the Bielski group have denied this, particularly after the release of a film about them, entitled Defiance. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance has been investigating the massacre. Although the IPN has not reported its findings as of April 2009, one researcher from the institute has said that there's no evidence to support the allegation that the Bielski partisans were involved in the attack.
- Согласно Марии, начали стрелять и в тех, кто никакого отношения к самоохране не имел. Так погиб её родственник.
- A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?, Gazeta Wyborcza, 2008-06-16
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- Kamil Tchorek (2008-12-31). "Country split over whether Daniel Craig is film hero or villain". The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article5420709.ece. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
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- (Belarusian) 65-годзьдзе замоўчанай налібоцкай трагедыі.
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