Catholic Church of the Assumption of Mary founded by Sejm Marshal Lew Sapieha


Coordinates: 53°27′N 25°24′E / 53.450°N 25.400°E / 53.450; 25.400
Hrodna voblast
Founded 1498
Population (2004)
  Total 8 300
Time zone FET (UTC+3)
  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Area code(s) +375-15
Website Dzyatlava Dyatlovo

Dziatlava (Belarusian: Дзятлава, Lithuanian: Zietela, Polish: Zdzięcioł, Russian: Дятлово, Yiddish: זשעטל Zhetl) is a town in Belarus in the Hrodna voblast, about 165 km southeast of Hrodna. The population is 7,700 (2016).

Dziatlava was first referenced in documents from 1498, when it was granted to Prince Konstantin Ostrogski, who later built a wooden castle there. In the 17th century the settlement was owned by Lew Sapieha, who ordered a Catholic church to be erected on the main city square. The church was consecrated in 1646, renovated after a fire in 1743 and still stands.[1] During the Great Northern War of the anti-Swedish alliance, Peter I of Russia visited Dzyatlava and stayed there for a week in January 1708. In the 18th century, the town was owned by Polish magnate Stanisław Sołtyk, who built a Baroque residence there in 1751.

Until World War II, Zdzięcioł (now Dziatlava) belonged to the eastern part of the Second Polish Republic. It was the seat of Gmina Zdzięcioł in Nowogródek Voivodeship.[2] The population was composed predominantly of Polish Jews. The Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939, and stationed in the Voivodeship area until the outbreak of their own war with Germany in June 1941. After the Soviet rapid retreat, and several months of Nazi ad hoc persecution, on February 22, 1942 the new German authorities officially created Zdzięcioł Ghetto.[3][4]

For more details on this topic, see Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland.

During the Holocaust, about 1,500 Jews were killed near the town in the Zdzięcioł massacres of 1942. The old Jewish cemetery is considered a minor landmark.

Lithuanian heritage

Being 80 kilometers south of present-day Lithuania, environs of Dzyatlava had been known by linguists as the outermost indigenous Lithuanian speaking "island" apart from the contiguous Lithuanian language territory. The Lithuanian-speakers spoke a unique dialect, known as the "Zietela dialect"; it has been speculated that the ancestors of its speakers might have been Lithuanized Jotvingians. It drew the attention by many prominent linguists, such as Christian Schweigaard Stang, Vladimir Toporov, Kazimieras Būga and Juozas Balčikonis. In 1886, 1156 people in nearby villages declared themselves Lithuanians, however the real number might have been much greater.[5] At present the Lithuanian population is virtually extinct.[5]


See also


  1. Photographs, at
  2. "Województwo Nowogródzkie". Skorowidz miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej - Tom VII - Część I. Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Central Statistical Office of Poland). 1923.
  3. Holocaust Encyclopedia. "Zdzieciol (Zhetel) Ghetto" (Wikipedia OTRS ticket no. 2007071910012533). USHMM. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  4. Piotr Eberhardt, Jan Owsinski (2003). Ethnic Groups and Population Changes in Twentieth-century Central-Eastern Europe: History, Data, Analysis. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-0665-5.
  5. 1 2 Gediminas Zemlickas, "Paminklas mirusiai ðnektai (2)" [Monument to the Extinct Dialect], Lietuviø kalbos instituto Kalbos istorijos ir dialektologijos skyriaus darbuotojai doc. dr. Danguolë Mikulënienë ir dr. Aloyzas Vidugiris. Archived October 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
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Coordinates: 53°27′N 25°24′E / 53.450°N 25.400°E / 53.450; 25.400

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