City with its own destiny
The city of Baranovichi is situated 206 kilometers to the northeast of the city of Brest. Baranovichi is a district center in the Brest Region. The city is a significant railway junction that connects Minsk, Brest, Luninets, Lida and Volkovysk. Besides, the main highways of the country cross near Baranovichi
The population of Baranovichi stands at 173,000 people as of 1995. This is quite a figure for a city in Belarus. Besides, Baranovichi is a fairly young city. I am going to relate its history, and it is up to you to judge.
The village of Baranowicze, as it was originally called, was first mentioned in 1706 as a private property of a Polish family named Rozwadowski. In the late 18th century, in the effect of the Partitions of Poland, the village became a part of the Russian Empire. In 1871’s it became an important railway junction, on the crossing of Warsaw-Moscow and Vilnia-Lviv lines. Soon the village started to grow and by 1883 it became a town with almost 2,000 inhabitants.
That was the start for Baranovichy’s history. Baranovichi a boundless ambition of a town in depth of the country to reach industrial and educational growth. Baranovichi is not a province anymore. Today it is a successful Belarusian city, a home to plants, companies and a university. By the way, that was the university that had strengthened the social status of the city. More and more young people decide to stay in the native Baranovichi to study and work. They do not strive to move to Minsk or Brest as it used to be.
Let us leave the present of Baranovichi to those who will write chronicles. We are going to dive into the past of the city.
The monuments of Baranovichi’s past are in the city itself and in its suburbs… For instance, the village of Milovidy, situated nearby, saw Kastus Kalinouski and his followers. There is a memorial plate to remind about the uprising and relate about these events to those who are unaware.
During the World War II two German concentration camps, Koldychevsky and Lesnyansky, were established in the Baranovichi District. Near Baranovichi was a site where mass shootings of Jews took place. There were thousand of Jews transported from the Western Europe.
After the World War II the city became part of the Soviet Union and the Belorussian SSR and started to be referred to under its Russian name of Baranovichi. In that time an intensive industrialization took place. In 1991 it became part of the independent Belarus.
In 1926, the Russian writer Alexei Tolstoy, the author of the trilogy “The Ordeal” was traveling via Baranovichi. The city was already familiar to him: Tolstoy was a war observer during the World War I and was working within the Baranovichi District for some time. The result of his “Baranovichi period” is a set of diary records and essays.
One more writer Sholem Aleichem, the classic of the Jewish prose, after his visit to Baranovichi wrote the novel “Baranovichi Station” based on his impressions from the year 1908.
Baranovichi’s ethnographers would say that the novel is a kind of statistical and historical description of the city of Baranovichi between 19th and early 20th century. There is a great deal of fascinating facts in the book. Sholem Aleichem had studied Baranovichi thoroughly. He visited all streets and corners of the city, entered Jewish shops and dined in ventas.
He might have visited one of the millstone producing factories as well. By the way, there were three factories of the kind in Baranovichi in the 20th century. This is a remarkable fact. Millstone producing was a time-consuming process that involved professional skills. Millstones were vital for ever mill, so stonecutters were very respected people. Their job required strength of body and accuracy.
It is not surprising that even today one may find a lot of millstones in villages in the Baranovichi District. They are not used for the intended purpose, of course. Somewhere millstones are a part of a house foundation, doorstep or stand by a well.
Baranovichi’s main street of is called Lenin Street. The Central city library which bears the name of the Belarusian poet of the 20th century, Valentin Tavlay, is situated on Lenin Street 51. In Baranovichi there is also a street and three lanes named after the poet. Valentin Tavlay was born here and his compatriots remember him. The there is a room in the local lore museum devoted to the poet and his works.
Baranovichi is connected with the names of such famous Belarusian writers as Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala. The poet Pavlyuk Bagrym, who used to be a blacksmith and a character of many local legends, was born in the village of Kroshine, near Baranovichi. Pavlyuk Bagrym is known as the author of one poem. Besides, the author of the poem “Pan Tadeusz”, Adam Mickiewicz, is also associated with Baranovichi. His birthplace is generally disputed among scholars. Some say the poet was born in the town of Zavosse, in the Baranovichi District.
by Veronika Smeyanovic.
Cards from collection
of Vladimir Lichodedov