Articles about Kobrin: 1917 - 1941

Years of hope, years of fight

On March 18, 1921 between the Soviet Russia and Poland the Riga peace treaty was signed. The western Belarus appeared under the power of the bourgeois and landowner Polish state. On new administrative-territorial division Kobrin became the center of the povet which was a part of the Polesia voivodeship which main town was Pinsk.

With arrival of the Polish administration for Kobrin other period of existence began absolutely. In all spheres of economy private-ownership business began to prosper, noble land tenure revived, appeared large a latifundium. Again national oppression, a polonization began, Catholicism restored the lost positions. With special hatred and cruelty ruling circles, first of all supporters of the marshal Yu. Pilsudsky, concerned to communists, to those who asserted the rights and national honor of aboriginals "vskhodny kresuv" (east suburbs — then the Belarusian lands as a part of the Polish state of the intermilitary period so were called).

Heads of the bourgeois and landowner Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth vigilantly preserved interests of the Polish businessmen. East suburbs were at once doomed to economic vegetation: elements of melkokustarny production, frankly agrarian course of economy, and as a result — a typical colonial appendage. As recognized even official circles, it was almost equivalent degradations.

Only about a road network of the power showed care. The population was forced to be fulfilled on "sharvarka" — improvement of roads many days in a year. It spoke simply: convenient ways of movement were necessary in order that it was possible to throw quickly troops and police for suppression of national performances.

Rigidly regulated system of taxes, uncountable penalties, punishments in any, even small occasions, continuous shadowing, the humiliating and haughty relation to "hlopa" became a norm of daily existence of local population in the bourgeois and landowner state. It is enough to list some types of penalties: for badly whitewashed house pipe, for absence on the plate cart with a surname of the owner, for the tobacco stalk which incidentally grew on a kitchen garden (the state monopolized tobacco production), for the dog who appeared not on a leash, for use kresaly, but not matches (matches cost very much) and a number of others.

Extreme contrast existed between the prices of industrial goods and of agricultural products. Peasants sold the production much below than its prime cost. The whole trains were loaded in Kobrin by almost gratuitous cattle and went to the West. Woodlands were cheap base of bread and meat for consumers beyond Bug. But to buy a finished product in a bench was not always on a pocket. Therefore inhabitants of the Kobrin povet came back to homespun clothes, bast shoes, rolls and a splinter. And this with the fact that shops in Kobrin were full of fabrics, clothes, footwear from England, France, Czechoslovakia and even Japan, without speaking about Poland.

Unemployment amplified. In the city there were still no large enterprises. In 1939 all 47 small zavodik provided employment only to 402 persons. Industries were the same, existing here since old years: production of a brick and tile, a dressing, sawmilling, bread baking etc. However, the factory of tissue sleeves opened, workshops on production of soap, candles, ropes, wattled products, wheel ointment, on repair of furniture, bicycles, sewing machines, small coffee and confectionery institutions worked. In handicraft workshops with one, as a rule, worker — tailor's, shoe, shorny, wheel, potter's, hour, about 300 people were engaged in photos —. Insignificant number of people held carrying, a season - but worked for gardeners, at a timber-rafting on Mukhavtsa. By the way, the Dnepro-Bugsky channel came to desolation, its regulating system was almost not restored.

Monthly in Kobrin more than five hundred unemployed, first of all from youth were registered. Young people did not seek to get families, being not able to provide its material existence. All this was the main reason for emigration of the population. The number leaving out of borders of the country in search of the better lot every year increased, having reached in 1930 — 1932 772 people on povt. Therefore there was no notable increase in population: in 20 years its quantity increased a little more than by one thousand.

Many enterprises stood idle because of the absence of customers and clients. Their owners hardly made ends meet. Only the owners of several tailor's and shoe workshops in the downtown serving landowners, officials and the military nobility did not know crises and constantly had the high income.

About the level of health care it is possible to judge by the fact that in 1938 in Kobrin only two small hospitals worked. Medical care cost much: in one days of stay in a clinic it was necessary to pay up to 5 zloties, as much — for visit to the doctor (while earnings of the worker in a month made 10 — 30 zloties). In a poveta one doctor fell on 8 — 9 thousand people and served a site in 277 square kilometers. Mortality in 1932 made 134 persons on 1 thousand. About 33 percent of children died in infancy.

The Polish government declared introduction of compulsory elementary education. However realization of this task in the territory of the Polesia voivodeship was far from hopes of locals. Only a half of schools gave three-cool education, the others — within one class. In the Kobrin povet in 1931 — 1932 there were 104 schools at which 12 thousand pupils were trained. One school fell on 36 square kilometers, and one teacher was engaged on average with 110 pupils. Country children usually sat down at school desks only after completion of agricultural works and finished occupations in the early spring when the sowing campaign began. Development of the program incomplete as a result did not give due effect, especially at a one-year course, many pupils and remained illiterate or semiliterate. Teaching at schools was conducted only in Polish, the exception was made by Scripture lessons.

In the thirties in the building of the former city school of Kobrin the second floor was built on. The writer M. Rodzevichuvna gave funds for reconstruction. Of course, in the gymnasium which opened here pupils joined knowledge in Polish. Occupations were joint for boys and girls. 19 teachers annually trained 250 — 300 grammar-school boys. Study cost much therefore only children of wealthy parents could go to a gymnasium. In the early thirties on Pinskaya Street (nowadays May Day) the second school — with seven years' education opened (now in it the high school No. 2 is placed). In the city there were also commercial, craft and Jewish spiritual schools.

The number of cultural and educational establishments was rather limited. Two private movie theaters — "Bike" and "Ebram" worked. Their repertoire consisted generally from American and partly the Polish movies. Tickets cost expensive, and halls crowded were not. But once in the city there was a poster which notified citizens that the Soviet movie "Cheerful Children" will be shown. It is necessary to tell that cultural and any other exchange between the USSR and Poland those years was almost not supported. But locals always vividly reacted to any information arriving from the country where the free people built socialism. "Cheerful children" became sensation. Crowds of citizens besieged movie theater from morning to the night, many villagers came.

The culture quite often became way of political struggle, upholding of national interests. In 1925 — 1927 the youth of Kobrin district on own means organized about fifty national reading rooms. At them choral and theatrical circles were created. Residents of villages, and it happened also citizens, willingly visited the improvised theaters equipped in someone's "klena" (the shed where rye is stored in sheaves, is conducted the thresh, straw and hay are stored). The means obtained from representations went for acquisition of books, an extract of newspapers and magazines. From the sanction of the voyevodsky or povetovy administration activity of these truly national centers of culture was quite often forbidden by police.

At the end of October, 1923 the Communist Party of the Western Belarus which was a component of Communist party of Poland developed the work. Separate forces of underground workers began to establish relations. The communist from Kobrin Gordey Smolsky came into contact with the Brest district committee of KPZB. Soon to the city there arrived the first secretary of district committee of party Semyon Dubovik. At meeting where he appealed to intensify revolutionary fight, there were G. Smolsky, L. Volosyuk, F. Kostylyuk, O. Glek, I. Kokalo and some other companions who then will make the fighting organization. Later party cells in the village of Batche and Polyatichi will be created.

Separate performances of workers of Kobrin took place in 1922 when several strikes of the shoemakers and tailors who made the demand of salary increase flashed. In 1923 builders of the road Brest — Gorodets striked. May Day demonstration which was organized by communists of the city became a remarkable event of 1925. Here is how it passed.

Heads of all cells received the order till certain time to avoid big congestions of people not to cause suspicion of police. At 12 o'clock in the afternoon on a prearranged signal the Market square was instantly filled with youth. Together with the people who arrived a .na a market there were about three thousand people here. With the short speech about the May Day and an appeal to show the revolutionary readiness addressed them, Smolsky. The red panel rose. The zealous police officer who appeared nearby could not pull out a banner from hands of the communist N. F. Kozak. There were banners. With singing of "International" the column moved on the Brest (nowadays Soviet) street. The revolutionary anthem replaced "Varshavyank", then "Safely, companions, in a leg!" Citizens welcomed amicably marching people. And at this time on a police station prepared for dispersal of protesters. Almost all police of the city participated in operation which was samolichno directed by the commandant. Stones departed to police officers. Then peace officers resorted to the weapon. Not to allow bloodshed, organizers of demonstration made the decision to disperse quickly.

The echo of this May Day widely swept across all Western Belarus. The meeting in the village of Cherevachitsa devoted to the International Youth Day became its next echo. That day (the beginning of September) there was a fair. It was carried out in connection with a religious holiday and attracted in Cherevachitsy to many people. The secretary of a district committee G. Smolsky and the secretary of a district committee of the Communistic Union of Youth of the Western Belarus (CUYWB) I speaking at meeting. Broke explained to the audience value of the International Youth Day, urged to join the ranks of Komsomol, to fight against the bourgeoisie and landowners. In crowd leaflets were distributed. When the horse group of police directly, trampling down yet not cleaned fields, brought in a hurry from Kobrin to the village, he found peaceful religious procession around church. The youth managed to disperse.

Activity of PTDC of B in the city gained the increasing scope. There were its city and regional committees. They carried out the activity through five subdistrict committees of the Communist Party and four subdistrict committees of KSMZB. From explanatory, propaganda activities communists even more often passed to the direct management of the movement of workers. In the same 1925 they successfully staged three strikes — shoemakers, tailors and workers of a saw-mill of "Kresa" belonging to the English industrialists.

All opportunities of legal work were used. There is an example. Educational society "Prosvita", harmless from the point of view of police, operated on Kobrin district. Its management was included into the bourgeois and landowner group of moderate sense which is completely supported by the government in Warsaw. Therefore the authorities had nothing against opening of reading rooms under a sign of "Prosvita". The youth could gather, discuss the pressing problems here, exchange illegal literature, receive tasks. Only in three years the begun to see clearly police quickly closed all points of "Prosvita". The musical, choral and theatrical circles operating at it were liquidated.

In 1926 the police together with defenzivy found many members of PTDC of B a trace, having arrested almost all heads of the communistic movement.

Building of the former Spassky monastery. Here in 20 — the 30th years the Kobrin povetovy court in which there took place trials of underground workers - members of PTDC of B and KSMZB was placed. (A reproduction from a card)

And in April, 1927 in Kobrin in the building of povetovy court (the being Spassky monastery) trial of 36 communists, including of G. Smolsky, O. Glek, L. Volosyuk, F. Kostylyuk, N. Sidyuk, N. Kozak, I. Kokalo, S. Kamenitsky and other heads of a Communist Party organization of the city and a povet began. All underground workers received long imprisonment terms.

Soon the underground party committee was created again. This time its headquarters was placed in the village Polyatichi, near Kobrin. Ranks of underground workers grew. In some villages (Polyatichi, Ilovsk, Tevli, Turnaya) almost all their population participated in liberating fight. In a poveta 3 regional and 16 subregional committees of KPZB worked.

In 1927 in Kobrin strikes took place again. Two weeks did not work workers at sawing plant of Gurvich, did not achieve salary increase yet. On July 29 protest, and then hunger strike in connection with repressions of prison administration were carried out by prisoners. It lasted seven days and came to the end with successful result — some supervisors who were famous for the greatest cruelty were discharged of service.

This year became history of revolutionary fight of workers of the Western Belarus one more event. In the fall of the power declared a recruitment. Cars at the next stations were added to the structure with recruits moving from Lunints. In Gorodtsa before landing the secretary of the Ilovsky subdistrict committee of KPZB I. S. Sidoruk read to future soldiers a leaflet of the Central Committee of the Communist Party "To recruits" which urged to use never the weapon against workers and peasants both Poland, and the USSR. Its (weapon), was emphasized in a leaflet, at the right time it will be necessary to turn against the bourgeoisie and landowners, battling for reunion against the Soviet Belarus. Such leaflets dispersed among recruits including among those who plunged at station Kobrin. When the structure in 40 cars approached Brest, all echelon started singing "International". The platoon of gendarmerie was caused. His commander, setting an example of "valor", with the revolver in hands it was put in the car where there were guys from Ilovsk and Zeelova, but received repulse. Police and gendarmes retired. "International" began to sound with a new force. Then police officers undertook a fanatic action. Having parted cars with the rebellious recruits who were in them, began to push together in full operation from two parties them among themselves. After that police officers dragged half-conscious children on punishment.

Daily here, there flashed in the city and you povt meetings, strikes were carried out, in a different form disobedience was shown. For several years in Kobrin 46 mass actions of workers took place. These organizers and similar to them acts were subjected to the cruel repressions which had time death.

In 1928 the deputy of Polish Sejm from party of socialists held a meeting with residents. Hardly it began the speech as the hall started singing "International". The communist underground worker Alexander Karpuk was "conductor" of this chorus. Soon he was arrested and, sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. In prison he was cruelly beaten by police officers, and in a year died in the conclusion.

On February 25, 1931 the Communist Party celebrated the day of the international fight against hunger and unemployment. In Kobrin the Market square became the place of gathering of protesters by tradition. Since morning groups of peasants of nearby villages began to arrive here. The way to them was barred by police officers, but the majority nevertheless managed to break in the roundabout ways. In the market there were already several hundreds of people with red flags and banners. Having received a reinforcement in the person of the arrived rural activists, the column in the ranks of which there were women and children, went to magistrate with exclamations: "Bread and works!" . The military team thrown here for establishing order refused to use the weapon. Several soldier came over to the side of protesters. And only mobilization of all forces of police and gendarmerie forced participants of this political action to recede. 120 people, including 12 women were thrown into torture chambers. Defenziva managed to track down and seize heads of demonstration of communists S. Zhuk and I. Litvinyuk. In prison they were tortured.

On September 2, 1933 in Kobrin the court-martial over eight members of PTDC of B — heads of revolt in Novoselkakh — I. Liskovich, I. Kitel, L. Bogdanovich, G. Tymoschuk, R. Matyuk, S. Kozlovich, V. Nikonchuk and A. Guzyuk took place. The purpose of court was obvious: to sentence them to death. To break will of communists, in the prison yard gallows by which daily saw off defendants were built in advance. Kobrin process was widely publicized. Novoselkovets were spoken out in defense by workers of Poland, the Western Ukraine, the Soviet Union and other countries. The powerful multimillion protest took effect: all defendants avoided the gallows, though were sentenced to the maximum terms of imprisonment.

Since spring of 1939 there was obvious a proximity of disturbing events. Europe came down to war more and more that first of all was connected with sharply increased aggression of the German fascism. The Polish government decided to carry out the hidden mobilization. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Belarusians were called up for military service, and sent them to the parts deployed on the western borders. And to "vskhodny cress" there arrived formations from the Poland. Pilsudchiki was counted that here it is more reliable the Polish soldiers, and as for local "hlop", they will become gun meat at the first collision with the German soldiery.

On September 1, 1939 Germany began military operations against the Polish state which, relying rather on the help to England and France, than on the forces, met war insufficiently prepared. Allies most of all cared for pushing Hitler closer to borders of the USSR, and did not hurry on revenue.

Planes with a swastika appeared also over Kobrin, the first fascist bombs fell to peace houses. The cars sowing death arrived daily. In several days the recruits mobilized the day before unexpectedly came back. For them in the Brest warehouses there was neither weapon, nor regimentals about what it was strictly ordered to them to be silent. However appearance of refugees, and then and the broken military units best of all demonstrated the approaching accident. The reactionary government of bourgeois and landowner Poland fled Warsaw, having left the people to the mercy of fate.

On September 17 in Kobrin there was the 83rd infantry regiment of Romuald Traugutt, what was sent to the West in the spring.

Fall of 1939. Kobrin group of Working guard

Soon from Brest Hitlerite parts seemed. The regiment bravely moved towards. In it there were many local guys, and now they advocated the interests not alien to them, and protected the city. The opponent, having settled down on that side of the canal of the Bond, waited for this desperate attack: carbines with the last holder of cartridges against automatic machines and machine guns... Hundreds of soldiers-infantrymen fell on this Kobrin suburb, from a regiment nothing remained.

Residents spent awful, sleepless night. Expected that fascists just about will break into their houses. But morning brought the encouraging message: from the East the Red Army to the aid moves. Several days reigned in Kobrin anarchy, police and representatives of the Polish administration ran or somewhere took cover. At the initiative of the former members of KPZB which undertook care of civilians community defense volunteer squads began to be created. Prisoners from a concentration camp in Bereze-Kartuzsky soon joined them. They disarmed wardens and local police officers. On September 18 to the aid of kobrinchana there arrived from Dyvin the group under E. R. Stup's command. The former political prisoner at tsarism, the participant of civil war, it headed the local forces of self-defense which in number grew to 500 people. (Subsequently in connection with the 50 anniversary of October revolution awarded the order to it the Red Star.) So the Working guard of Kobrin which stopped marauding and panic in the city and vicinities was born, established protection of the major objects. Several times rabochegvardeyets had to reflect attempts of saboteurs to blow up the railway bridge through Mukhavets.

And several days later, in the early solar morning on September 22, 1939, from Moskovskoye Highway Kobrin included krasnozvezdny tanks. Long-awaited release came. The meeting poured out on the real holiday: inhabitants put on the best dresses, women in the traditional Polesia embroidered clothes brought to liberators bread salt. The bridge through Mukhavets was burned even at appearance of Germans, and now on the river boats with the impatient citizens wishing to get acquainted closer with the Soviet soldiers scurried about. And soon there were also volunteers who led by the skilled joiner Spiridon Guzar started to build the floating bridge. Built it, standing on a belt in already as in autumn cold water. And meanwhile the stopped column of tanks was filled up literally with bouquets of flowers. Spontaneously meeting began. The planes scattering leaflets blew over the heads. It was bright, fine day in life kobrinchan, an award for twenty-year sufferings, tests and courage.

Next day heads of Working guard of Kobrin met political workers of tank division of army of V. I. Chuykov. The self-defense staff which was placed in the small wooden building of the former city magistrate on Bank (nowadays Komsomol members) the areas was formed. Fight did not end yet, in vicinities gangs of gendarmes, police officers and osadnik were active. Their large group was disarmed by rabochegvardeyets in the natural boundary the Rich man at the village Kalyukhi. Groups in Gorodtsa, Antopole and Zhabinke worked. The working guard carried out the functions until the end of 1939. Subsequently the Kobrin city council in memory of those days decided to call one of Krasnogvardeyskaya's streets, another Red Army.

For the organization of new life of the city there arrived several groups of skilled party and Soviet workers of BSSR here, and among them — T. F. Subbotin, the secretary of one of district committees in Gomelshchina, the deputy of the Supreme Council of the republic. He became the chairman of committee of Temporary management. Also the former underground workers, members of KPZB A. I. Fedosyuk, A. P. Karpuk, F. B. Masliyevich, P. D. Gazuk and others were a part of management. There were many problems: providing population with products, organization of trade and supply, medical care, resumption of work of some enterprises, railroad and mail. Especially it was necessary to resolve an issue of numerous refugees from the occupied Germany of Poland.

Cultural and educational work was developed. In the building of a gymnasium the free high school to which at once admitted 120 pupils opened. Special courses trained elementary school teachers from among the local competent population. To it, this guard of teachers of new type, it was necessary to solve problems of a general compulsory education. The central city library began to work, and in villages there were reading rooms. But it were only the first steps, it was necessary to define legislatively future of residents of the Western Ukraine and the Western Belarus.

During preparatory campaign for elections of deputies to People's assembly of the Western Belarus workers in the majority supported the socialist future, the Soviet power. To Bialystok, a venue of meeting, from Kobrin the big deputy delegation which voted on October 28 — 30 for establishment of the Soviet power left. Here it was accepted to include the appeal to the Supreme Council of the USSR with a request the Western Belarus in structure of USSR and to attach it to BSSR. The meeting unanimously decided to confiscate lands of landowners and osadnik, to nationalize banks, the large industrial enterprises.

On November 2, 1939 extraordinary fifth session of the Supreme Council of the USSR adopted the Law on inclusion of the Western Belarus in structure of USSR and its association with BSSR. And on November 12 the third extraordinary session of the Supreme Council of BSSR of a postanovikl to admit Western "Belarus to structure of BSSR. The new areas and areas which replaced former administrative-territorial division were formed. Kobrin became the center of the region of the Brest region.

Elections to People's assembly of the Western Belarus on October 22, 1939. On the Proletarian polling precinct of the city of Kobrin

In the city life as well as all of the annexed Western Belarus, the era of socialist transformations began. Among the new facts and the phenomena which filled labor everyday life of locals, a specific place was held by reconstruction of the Dnepro-Bugsky channel. Now, when the territorial unity of Belarus was restored, economic value of this water highway increased. Soon there were specialists water-transport workers of Upper Dnieper shipping company who developed the courageous project. On December 29, 1939 Central Committees Kp/b/b and SNK BSSR adopted the resolution on construction on the Dnepro-Bugsky channel.

Thousands of people captured by enthusiasm, thirst of new fulfillments turned to work. 200 communists and 500 Komsomol members headed socialist competition, Dnepro-Bug became shock building of the Soviet Belarus, all country. Came for building the whole villages, with songs, with red flags and banners. The winter at a boundary of 1939 and 1940 was severe, but it did not reduce speed of construction. In work powerful mechanisms were started. Actually there was a new channel: the main route, in particular thanks to introduction of a site Kobrin — Benefit is straightened, the course is considerably expanded and deepened. Locks, dams and vodootliva were added. The channel received reliable regulation of water level and completely became operational.

... In memorable September, 1939 together with the advanced parts of the 4th army which was moving ahead on the West there were two special correspondents of the newspaper of "the Hour Homeland" rather famous figures of the Soviet literature by then. The newspaper editorial office located in Kobrin. In the house No. 1 down the street of Suvorov lodged and lived here in October — November, 1939 the poet A. T. Tvardovsky and the writer B. L. Gorbatov. During this period Tvardovsky will for the first time address in the poetry front subject. Verses then will be published in Brest, the collection will receive the name "Front Verses". Style of those poetic lines in many respects anticipated a poetic manner of "Vasily Tyorkin".

The printing house in Kobrin did not exist yet, the newspaper — too. It was decided to start its edition. The first issues of the district newspaper 'Work" were printed on the manual machine. But here soon there arrived the marching printing house. The help and from newsdealers came: A. T. Tvardovsky and B. L. Gorbatov taught newspaper work, governed, processed and prepared for printing materials.

Labor everyday life of the city was reflected in strips of the newspaper. For the first time people went to work not to the private owner, and for the socialized, state enterprise. Unemployment disappeared, the confidence in tomorrow appeared. Yesterday's unskilled workers and farm laborers became at the head of again created institutions and the organizations, learned to manage public affairs.

In 1940 in the city the district group of industrial enterprises which merged together small workshops worked. Here the modern equipment was delivered, the state gave help in preparation of technical shots. Also other enterprises, artels which united on the cooperative beginnings of handicraftsmen - singles worked. The opening of Kobrin MTS dated for the beginning of collectivization in the village became a big event in economic life of the city and area. There were first collective farms — most quicker where revolutionary traditions were strong: in villages Turnaya (collective farm of M. I. Kalinin), Polyatichi and others. Even ancient commitment of Kobrin citizens to truck farming and a zemledelchestvo found the new embodiment: owners of a set of private "hundred parts" and "dzyalok" (so here called small plots) decided to create own, city collective farm.

And joyful the sowing harvest season of 1941 was brisk. The nature as if apologized for the casual disgrace — severe winter, promising a good harvest for the summer. But it did not happen to bring together him. Terrible war by unprecedented disaster fell upon the country.