Naroch: memory source

Naroch is a village in Myadel district located in 20 km to northwest from Myadel, in 29 km from railway station Postavy, on the motorway Minsk — Naroch. It is known from the 15th century under the name Kobylnik in Oshmyany county of Vilnya voivodeship of the Grand Principality of Lithuania
Traveling around Myadel district, going to the direction of the lake Naroch I all the time define an obligatory program for myself: to drop at Ivan Dravnitsky in the village of Kutky. Having got acquainted with him almost fifteen years ago I could have a look at Myadel district with new eyes. With a help of common teacher-pensioner and talented regional ethnographer I found out a number of themes and heroes of history of Myadel district. I certainly plan to drop at the village of Svir. I know for sure — after my trip I’ll write a letter to Meir Svirsky residing in the USA — inhabitant of this old place, a person who survived by a miracle during the Great Patriotic War … And the third meeting in obligatory program is Kobylnik, starting in the year 1964 — a village of Naroch (do not mix up with the resort village Naroch).

What attracts in Naroch-Kobylnik? In the very centre there is Andreevsky Catholic Church. Opposite the church — bell-tower. Earlier at the place of the current hieratic construction made out of red brick was another one — made out of wood erected in 1463. The name of its founder is known as well: Ignatiy Rassalovsky — a Svir dean. That wooden church would have gladdened the tourists and inhabitants of the Myadel district nowadays as well. But it burnt away in 1897. A familiar monumental brick construction was built in 1904. Neo-Gothic impresses. In the central part of the building there is an entry portal. Over it a round window in a form of Gothic rose is located. Overhead one will find a triangular shield with metal cross. There are six round columns in the interior. They divide the church into three parts. At the entrance, over tambour, there is a chorus gallery where the pipe organ is located. In the centre — a wooden figured sanctuary made out of dark oak. Local inhabitants tell that the three-storied sanctuary had been ordered from the craftsman from Vilnya. In niches aside there are sculptural figures of the saint, made in man’s height. In the centre of the third store there is a sculpture of Jesus. The walls of the church are decorated with icons drawn on canvas. The atmosphere in the church is so much attractable that entering the church for a minute you are to stay here for an hour a least. Orthodox Church — Ilinskaya — had preserved in Naroch as well. It is made out of stone. It was built in 1850s. Looking into the Church one should attentively peer in the wooden iconostasis — it is a real monument of woodcarving. The age of this work is no less than a hundred!

Historians and my friend Invar Dravnitsky state that the most intensive development of Naroch-Kobylnik happened in the second part of the 19th century. For example, in 1868 there were two estates near the village with 93 inhabitants. In one of them 20 people lived, in another — 17 people. Less than in twenty years Kobylnik became inhabited by 172 peasants and 311 commoners.

Besides, Orthodox Church and Catholic Church synagogue had been working. Regardful citizens organized a shelter for miserable old people (some like contemporary home for elderly). A part from five annual fairs held every Tuesday, a small-scale market used to be organized. In 1890s in the village Peoples College had been opened. Post office had appeared as well. In a word, Kobylnik became a centre of life in Myadel district.

A separate page in the village biography is events of the World War I. Comparing two German invasions of Belarus, historians often note that Belarusian people hadn’t ever suffered such cruelty like during the Great Patriotic War. Starting in 1915 there were a lot of different things in Myadel district. Peaceful people had to suffer greatly. The whole territory of Myadel district was invaded by German troops. People who lived in immediate battle area were taken to concentration camps, organized in suburbs of Suvalky and Podbrodie. For people who happened to stay in their villages a strict access system was set. In case of any disobedience Nazi organized shooting executions. The Germans exported peaceful population to Germany. Even children were supplied with certificates identifying age, other data and finger prints. It was prohibited for peasants to sell surplus of goods. Confiscation for the needs of German army used to happen very often — provand for horses, bread, meat. Mainly by forces of local inhabitants the Germans narrow-gauge railroads to supply munitions to the front line were built. The most tragic events occurred in March 1916 — during a so-called Naroch operation. Except ordinary artillery gun fire-fight the Germans carried out several gas attacks. For the time being mass graves near the village Brusy and in its suburbs speak of that fact. At the cemetery in the village Knyaginin on the mass grave a monument was erected: more than 2500 Russian soldiers died in front hospitals are buried there. During just Naroch operation Russian troops suffered vast losses: about 80 thousand of soldiers and officers died there. The losses among German army amounted to approximately 30-40 thousand people. We may only guess how greatly peaceful people suffered during this bloody war. In March 1916 main office of the German 21st armed body located in Kobylnik (it included 5 divisions, 1 brigade)…

After the World War I inhabitants of the village had suffered the invasion of Belopolyaki (Belarusian poles)…

…Once exploring the history of Kobylnik-Naroch in the village itself, try to know from the local old-timers about Cheslav Frantsevich Kudoba. To tell the truth, in the village he is known as Khudoba. Later he changed the first letter of his surname which seemed to be more sonorous. Cheslav Frantsevich is a doctor of geographic sciences. Great while till the very death in 1993, he had been working at the university in Vilnius. He was a deputy of Lithuanian parliament, headed the Fund of Culture of Lithuania. Scientific works of our landsman were honored with the State award of Latvia two times — in 1984 and 1993. The main thing is that many Kudoba’s works on hydronymics, geography are closely connected with Belarus, native land. In a collected book “Nash Neman” (Our Neman) (Minsk, 1988) an essay of Cheslav Frantsevich “U istokov rodnikov” — about childhood in Naroch, Kobylnik-Naroch, suburbs of ancient settlement plentiful of historical memory was published.

Ales Karlyukevich. Card from collection of Vladimir Likhodedov
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