Tour Guide - Itinerary

Russia Scandinavia 1981

Started 13/07/1981 Finished 10/08/198129 Days ITINERARY

Day 22 date 03/08/1981SMOLENSK to MINSK, BELORUSSIA

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Minsk is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislač and the Niamiha rivers.

The earliest historical references to Minsk date to the 11th century (1067), when it was noted as a provincial city within the Principality of Polotsk.

Minsk escaped the Mongol invasion of Rus in 1237–1239.

In 1242, Minsk became a part of the expanding Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It joined peacefully and local elites enjoyed high rank in the society of the Grand Duchy.

In 1413, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland entered into a union. Minsk became the centre of Minsk Voivodship (province).

In 1441, as Grand Duke of LithuaniaCasimir IV included Minsk in a list of cities enjoying certain privileges, and in 1499, during the reign of his son, Minsk received town privileges.

In 1569, after the Union of Lublin, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland merged into a single state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

From 1569, Minsk was a capital of the Minsk Voivodeship, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

It was also an important centre for the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In 1655, Minsk was conquered by troops of Tsar Alexei of Russia. Russians governed the city until 1660 when it was regained by John II Casimir, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland.

By the end of the Polish-Russian War, Minsk had only about 2,000 residents and just 300 houses. The second wave of devastation occurred during the Great Northern War, when Minsk was occupied in 1708 and 1709 by the army of Charles XII of Sweden and then by the army of Peter the Great

Minsk was part of a region annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793, as a consequence of the Second Partition of Poland. From 1919 to 1991, after the Russian Revolution, Minsk was the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, in the Soviet Union.

Before the Second World War, Minsk had a population of 300,000 people. The Germans captured Minsk  as part of Operation Barbarossa. However, many factories, museums, and tens of thousands of civilians had already been evacuated to the east. Communists and sympathisers were killed or imprisoned by the Germans. Homes were requisitioned to house invading German forces. Thousands starved as food was seized by the German Army and paid work was scarce.

Minsk was the site of one of the largest Nazi-run ghettos in the Second World War, housing over 100,000 Jews (ie Minsk Ghetto). By 1942, Minsk had become a major centre of the Soviet partisan resistance movement against the invasion, in what is known as the German-Soviet War. For this role, Minsk was awarded the title Hero City in 1974.

Minsk was recaptured by Soviet troops on 3 July 1944 in the Minsk Offensive. The city was the centre of German resistance to the Soviet advance and saw heavy fighting during the first half of 1944. Factories, municipal buildings, power stations, bridges, most roads, and 80% of the houses were reduced to rubble. In 1944, Minsk's population was reduced to a mere 50,000 from 300,000 5 years earlier.

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