Today, Zelva is a village, the center
of Zelva region of Grodna oblast., 129 km from Grodna, 8.300 inhabitants
The first mention of Zelva in written sources is 1470. This year Mikhail Nagovich layed in the villige pf Vialikaya (Big) Zelva a catholic church. In 1477 a catholic church was layed in the estate (belarussian - mayontak) of Ivan Gineytavich - Malaya (Small) Zelva.
In the beginning of 16th century Lithuanian duke Aliaksander presented Malaya Zelva to Troki kastelian Stanislau Yanavich Kizhgaila. The owners of Malaya Zelva in the first part of 16th century were Ivan Vishneuski, Ivan Zabiarezinski, Yuri Illinich and Mikalai Zianouevich, in 1550-60 - Stanislau Kamarouski.
Since 1524 Vialikaya Zelva was known as a small city (myastechka -Belarussian, shtetl - Yiddish) of Vaukavysk povet, Navagrudak voevodstvo . In 1536 and 1565 Vialikay Zelva was a king estate, later of Yan Gliabovich, since 1568 - of famous magnat Mikalai Kryshtaf Radzivil, in 1581 - of Yazerski.
Famous belarussian magnat family Sapeha was a Zelva owner in the first part of 17th century. In 1616 Zelva consisted of a market and three streets (Dvornaya, Miazheritskaya and Vaukavyskaya). Also, 17 pubs (belarussian - korchma) and two mills were in Zelva. Polish king and Lithuanian duke Vladislaw IV visited Kazimir Sapeha in Zelva (1643). Since 1655 Zelva was a posession of duke Palubenski, from 168 till 1831 - of Sapeha family. In 1690 shtetl was a center of kluch in Vaukavysk povet of Navagrudak voevodstvo.
Jews were known as Zelva inhabitants since the third quater of 17th century. Zelva kagal (community) was under the rule of Grodna kagal. 522 jews lived in Zelva and Zelva region in 1766.
On the 20th of May, 1720, Polish king and Lithuanian duke August II Duzhi (Strong) gave Sapeha family a licence for organization a fair. It was the beginning of Zelva "Golden Age". Famous Zelva fair began on 25th of July and lasted four weeks.
Special for the fair was built a special place in the middle of the market (known as "gastsinny dvor") with more than 200 shops. In 1786 popular Warsaw magazin "Dziennik handlowy" ("Trade diary") wrote: "Zelva fair is a very popular. Since the second part of 18th century here gether the merchants (about 3-4.000 per year) from Belarus, Baltic coast, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Poland anf others. Zelva fair occupied a second part between European fairs, after Leipzig fair". Belarussian jews played a great role in Zelva fair, which specialized in a cattle (horse)-trade.
In 1764 Rech Pospolitaya (a union between Polish kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1569) authorities prohibited the activity of Lithuanian Vaad (at council of Lithuanians rabbies). After 1764 rabbies met in Zelva during a fair for the solve of main relogious questions.
In 1781 Vilna rabbies proclaimed a cherem against the Chasidim and authorized the deputies to spread it over the Grand Duchy jewish communities. In 1781 the representitives of main jewish communities (Grodna, Brest, Pinsk and Slutsk) on the first day of Elul (mid August) read at Zelva fair square in front of the crowd the act of cherem. In 1796, during the Anti-Chasidim movement, Vilna gaon disciple Israel Leibel recieved a great support.
In 1795 Zelva was occupied by Russian Army. It became the center of volost in Vaukavysk uezd of Grodna gubernia.
In 1831 Sapeha`s rule in Zelva ended. In 1830 an insurrection against Russian authorities for independence. Sapeha joined it. The rebells were defeated. Russian Tsar Nikolai I decided to confiscate all the possesion of active rebells.
The first part of 19th century was great time of Zelva fair. In 1845 the merchants wanted to open a new rair in shtetl. The actors, musicians with new drama and opera perfomances were in Zelva during the fair. Famous Zelva fair existed till the end of 19th century.
In 1847 848 jews lived in Zelva. According to the russian census of 1897 Zelva had 2.803 inhabitants (1.844 of them - jews). This time Zelva had a synagogue, catholic church, a mill and a beer-plant (belarussian - brovar), candles plant, and others. In the begining of the 20th century Malaya Zelva united with Vialikaya Zelva.
During World War I German and in 1919-20 Polish troops occupied Zelva. According to the Riga treaty of 1921 Zelva became a center of gmina in Vaukavysk povet of Belastok voevodstvo.
On 17th of September, 1939, Red Army invaded Poland. Shtetl became a part of Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic and Soviet Union.
On 22th of June, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded USSR. On the 1st of July they occupied Zelva. On the 12th of July, 1944, Second Belarussian front of Red Army liberated Zelva during the Belastok operation. During the War the fascists killed in Zelva and in Zelva region more then 6.049 (including all jewish population).
I saw a list of 134 belarussian ghettoes. It isn`t include information about ghetto in Zelva. But, I read a german report N43 from Zelva. Since 21th till 31th of July, the Nazi killed jewish intellectuals. In Zelva region german administation organized a ghetto in Dziarechin. In April, 1942 they killed here about 150 jews and during the 23th-26th of June, 1942, - 4.100 jews. I suppose, that Zelva jews were killed in Dziarechin. It was the end of jewish history of small shtetl of Zelva.