Searching in the depth of times

The town where we will try to make a time travel, has had all chance to become a prominent city throughout its history…
It’s like in real life: you dream, build castles in Spain and gradually get rid of numerous illusions and face the harsh reality. And as for Glubokoe town, I’d like to stay romantic, believing that at least towns and castles do not fall in oblivion.

Maybe Napoleon himself thought romantically as he looked at local scenery… Otherwise why else should he plan to establish one of Europe’s most beautiful and prosperous cities here? Did the French Emperor know then that the castle of Glubokoe had been there since the 16th century? A colossal construction with traditional earth mounds, wooden walls, towers and moat served to make locals feel protected and inexpugnable. However, not only urban planning improved, accompanied by development of armament and elimination methods of all life and property. The castle was burnt down in 1654. Rapid reconstruction could not protect it from another fire after several years. And the castle was damaged again during the Northern war of 1700–1721. At that time its decline began. However, there was Zamkovaya street (Castle street) left… It can be seen in many postcards issued in various years.

Since the 16th century, Glubokoe stepped its right of “locality capital” to district center of Disna, as it was designated only a borough status. Yet this was of no obstacle to growth and development. Undoubtedly, influential possessors helped local residents to implement their dreams of prosperity. In the 17th century the borough was possessed by the Radzivill family, followed by the Witgenstein house. These are milestone names for political and economical history of Belarus. Wooden one-level huts were supplemented with a synagogue, a chapel and a church. Life was centered in Carmelite Catholic church as it offered a library, a school, a hospital and a chemist’s. And even an orchestra of 40 musicians!

In general, as for permanent development of economical efforts, this is a regular and forthcoming process. Any Belarusian borough or town falls within general system of coordinates and movement direction, as it’s disgraceful to look poor even before your neighbors. Yet it’s different about culture… There were peaks and falls, which is vivid in case of Glubokoe. Romantics, dreamers and artists capable to break through the curtain of reality and build splendid though ethereal castles, have always controlled culture here. Poet Nikolai Minsky is native to Glubokoe, the “lake borough” (as there are two cute ponds in the town). He was born to a poor Jewish family and became orphan very early. He took his pseudonym “Minsky” by reason that he was brought up and finished school in Minsk. By the way, he was awarded gold medal in grammar school. He qualified for bachelor of laws after college of law, St. Petersburg University. Nikolai Minsky was first published in 1870s and changed from Nekrasov and Plesheev-like poetry to symbolism. Vengerov, another our fellow countryman and a bibliographer, called Minsky “father of Russian decadence”. Yet the poet did not confine himself to mere literature and became a philosopher, having written dissertation “Future religion: philosophical talks”. Nikolai Maximovich Minsky died in 1937 — he wasn’t executed as he was in Paris then. Though as early as during the first Russian revolution he considered union of symbolism and revolution possible and “internally demandable”. But views used to change rapidly at that time. Thus he went to Paris, and this is why he was buried at the cemetery of Pere Lachaise where Honore de Balzac, Moliere, Guillaume Apollinaire and other prominent French figures rest…

Moreover, Glubokoe is related to Tadeusz Dolengi-Mostovich (which is confirmed by memorial board but withheld in some Belarusian encyclopedias). Here he wrote his “Witchdoctor” and “Professor Vilchur” filmed as early as before the war. There are several versions explaining death of Tadeusz Dolengi-Mostovich in 1939. Another our compatriot Rafal Cherviakovsky is native of Ostrovets and founder to one of Polish schools of surgery.

…Dokshitskaya, Zamkovaya and Krakowskaya streets, Tretiego Maya square — all these are addresses from old postcards of Glubokoe. There are plenty of them! Glubokoe turned out to be an extraordinarily attractive place not only for military leaders and writers, scientists and state officials (118 years after Napoleon the town was visited by Polish President Ignaty Mostitsky, which was commemorated with an arc in Zamkovaya street). Masters of photography used to visit Glubokoe, too — Juliosh Kloss, Jan Bulgak… Their postcards seem to be countless. Vladimir Skrabatun, a collectioner and a regional ethnographer, published his album “Glubokoe in old postcards” several years ago, and noted that “only few postcards could be omitted in his book”. However, digging into history is especially interesting as it reveals new findings and discoveries. Most likely, there are still things to find and reveal, thus it’s up to connoisseurs of history to venture!

by Ales Karliukevich

(postcards from Lihodedov’s collection)
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