When the Nazis occupied Bialystok, Poland for the second time on June 27, 1941, hundreds of Jews were burned alive in a local synagogue. Sporadic killing actions continued over the next months until the Nazis forced the remaining 50,000 Jews into a ghetto on August 1, 1941. As in other ghettos, the living conditions were unbearable, and the population was subject to periodic deportations to other camps and killing centers. In February 1943, approximately 10,000 Bialystok Jews were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp. 

The final liquidation of the ghetto began in August 1943. During the night of August 15th, several hundred Jews took up armed resistance against the German troops carrying out the liquidation. With few weapons and little ammunition, the resistance was quickly defeated; its leaders committed suicide. Several dozen Jews managed to escape to the surrounding forest, where they joined the partisan resistance but most were sent to camps in Treblinka, Majdanek or Auschwitz.

In August 1943, about 1,200 children from Bialystok, ages four to fourteen were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia as part of an attempt by the Nazis to ransom the children to Jewish rescue agencies in Palestine. Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, learned of the plan and thwarted it-- arguing that the children would grow to be adults and would assist the Jewish community in Palestine. As a result, two months later the children were sent to Auschwitz, where they were gassed and, with their 50 caretaker doctors and nurses, murdered upon arrival.

It is estimated that out of almost 60,000 Jews who lived in Bialystok before the war, only several hundred survived the Holocaust.