History is still a secret to many
Chausy is a little town, in the Mogilev Region, with a population of about 12,000 people. The town is situated on the river sweetly called Basya. Chausy is not far from the city of Mogilev, a trip of only 41 kilometers. By the way, near the town, in five kilometers, there is a railway station with the same name “Chausy”
Highways that lead to Mogilev, Krichev, Mstislavl and Chernikov cross in Chausy. From the first sight Chausy is quite an ordinary and unremarkable district center.
If you look closer, even in the life of little towns like that, you would be able to catch the spirit of the past. There are plenty of fascinating historical moments. Thus, in case you someday have an opportunity to pay a visit to Mistislavl or Krichev, find a couple of hours to tour in Chausy. By the way, this town was for the first time mentioned in the chronicles in the middle of the 16th century. I got acquainted with the town thanks to Ivan Makarenko.
Ivan Ageevich is a Professor of Medical Science, Doctor of Science. He was born in the village called Kuzminichy near Chausy. During World War II he used to be an ordinary soldier and fought on the West fighting line, then he was a head of the partisan group that was stationed near Chausy. Only after the war, in 1945, when Ivan was already 27 years old, he entered the medical institute.
Makarenko was the person who revealed Chausy to me.
“You believe if the town is small, there is nothing interesting in it, and no surprises may arise?” the professor asked me on our way to Chausy, “you are mistaken, my son. When I was young I used to think the same way. In 1944 doctors did not allow me to return to the front-line, and I was forced to remain here and restore the city. I believed then that I lived in an ordinary place that was just a large village, nothing else. In course of time I understood I was wrong,” Ivan said.
Our car approaches the central street of Chausy, but my personal guide drives further leaving the Sovetskaya and Lenin streets behind. As though he tries to say: “you will have time to get acquainted with the historic center, let us take a walk in the ancient park”.
The southern part of the square slowly turns into a park lane. One notices that the park is inhabited not only by well-known trees and bushes, but also by exotic ones. Their home country is far from Chausy.
Ivan Ageevich takes me to the communal grave of Soviet soldiers that freed Chausy in June 1944. There is a smaller grave nearby. Makarenko explains that representatives of Chausy’s revolutionary committee who died in 1920 were buried there.
“By the way, it will be useful to visit the local museum,” Makarenko says, and we give up our trip in the park. The museum was established only several years ago, but regional ethnographers managed to collect a good deal of exhibits. I have heard about the museum before. Eventually, a friend of mine, the artist from Minsk, Georgiy Loyko, has dressed the exhibition.
He is famous for his remarkable dioramas. During my visit to Chausy I had a chance to see his works in reality. They were expected to become a multidimensional exhibition of Chausy’s historical recollections.
One day Chausy was a center of the sheading, the museum guide narrates. The book called “Picturesque Russia” describes Chausy in the following way: “on a sizable hill cut with ravines on the bank of the river Basya or Boschi that falls into Pronya, lies a district town called Chausy. The town belonged then to the Mogilev Region. In 1653 Nikolay Kazimir Podbipenta established a Carmelite monastery here. There are three Orthodox churches in the town and no Catholic one. Chausy actively carries on trade”.
In the late 19th and beginning of the 20th century Chausy held four annual fairs. There were about 50 small shops in the town. One more important thing: in the 90-s of the 19th century more than 40% of Chausy’s population was literate. You should admit the figure is impressive if the historical period is taken into consideration.
We are examining the exhibits with interest and pay attention to all details. The diorama called “Breakthrough of the German defense in battle on Pronya river on June 23, 1944” attracts our attention and we stop to study it. Ivan Ageevich remembers those events well. His relation together with the silent diorama create vivid impressions.
A thought comes to my mind that Chausy as well as other small Belarusian towns went through many wars. It is not by chance that Chausy’s emblem of the 17th century depicted a horseman with a sword on the blue background. After the town became a part of the Russia Empire the emblem was changed. A new emblem was created and approved: on the red background a sabre and a sword crossed and braided with a laurel wreath.
In 1654–1667 Chausy appeared to be in the center of the war between Russia and Rzeczpospolita. In spring 1655 the town became a residence of the Cossack colonel Nechai, who was in the head of the Chausy’s regiment until 1659. In autumn 1660 Polish troops come and stay on the bank of Basya. In 1708 Chausy were destroyed by Swedish troops under the command of cruel Karl XII.
Museum exhibits can tell about World War II and heroes born in the town of Chausy. Among them was Lev Manevich, the hero of the Soviet Union, famous resident agent of the Soviet intelligence service in Europe. He was born in Chausy in 1898. By the way, he managed to obtain a rank of brigade commander in the intelligence service. In some European countries Etienne (that was his cover name) was known as a successful businessman. In 1936 Manevich was arrested by Italian forces and was passed to Nazis.
The agent went through many hardships, including exiles in the concentration camps of Mauthausen, Melk, Ebensee. In Ebensee Manevich created an antifascist underground. On May 6, 1945 Lev Efimovich and his co-prisoners were released by American soldiers. Unfortunately, Manevich died on May 11. He was very ill and weak.
We leave the museum and take a walk in the town, then we go to the river. There are burial mounds on its left bank. Some time ago archeologists found garnitures and pottery originating from distant ages. In the meanwhile, Basya flows further through our times in future as though trying to tell to curious tourists: keep your eyes open, the history is still a secret
by Ales Karlyukevich.
Cards from collection
of Vladimir Lichodedov