Articles about Kobrin: As a part of the Russian Empire

Refugee epic

In a long chain of the past centuries military hard times periodically fell upon Kobrin district. In deep old times the population escaped from enemy attacks in forest thickets and impassable bogs of local vast bogs. And groups of the settlements which appeared on the way of enemy invasion mainly were exposed to ruthless ruin, and even elimination.

However without exaggeration it is possible to claim that military tests of the past both on the scale, and on consequences are incomparable with what fell to lot of kobrinets in World War I. And as strange it can seem, but "the enemy force" was the prime cause of the fallen disasters only indirectly. Bossy thoughtlessness of which we will tell further became direct responsible for a national grief.

Parade of Kobrin regiments
With a careful eye to proximity of border with East Prussia the Russian government held significant military forces on the western suburbs of the empire. Therefore long since in Kobrin lodged the 149th Tamansky and the 150th Black Sea infantry regiments.

Unusual parade of these regiments became a peculiar prelude of World War I in Kobrin. In the eve of departure on the front symbolical farewell of staff of soldiers to citizens took place. For this purpose on the extensive city pasture adjoining Factory (nowadays Red Army) street which usually served for educational firing practice of police harmonous columns in marching equipment were built pobatalyonno. As it was moved, in the beginning representatives of the military and civil authorities exchanged ardent patriotic speeches. Then, after a solemn prayer about talent to the Russian religous troops of a victory over adversaries, there came more impressive action. The officers of both regiments were constructed in the long rank, holding naked checkers at socks of boots. Regimental priests sprinkled their blades with the consecrated water, addressing thus soldiers on the forthcoming feats of arms for belief, the tsar and the fatherland.

Military hurricane in the West
During the whole next year the military hurricane stormed somewhere in the distance, on lands of "Kingdom the Polish". Already since the beginning of 1915 on August deaf grumble of the remote cannonade in windless days reminded kobrinets that near Bialystok courageously show to the enemy months-long resistance mean Osovetsky fortress. To listeners it was involuntarily thought: what a difference the next first-class Brest stronghold under which powerful protection it is possible to feel in the total safety.

However in summer months 1915 under the pressure of superior forces of the opponent the Russian army which is insufficiently armed and often operated by the dull management, with fights was slowly rolled away on the East. In the middle of August under threat to appear in an environment without resistance the Brest fortress seeming so unapproachable on which the exaggerated hopes of command were laid was handed over. Nevertheless the Russian troops showed fierce resistance to the East from Brest, causing to the enemy a huge loss. The set of extensive German cemeteries with hundreds of burials which were plentifully scattered on the Kobrin County visually testified to its scales.

War comes nearer
For the first time kobrinets from relative serenity news of emergence on Brestskoye Highway of chains pulled out a supply with the Polish refugees whose flow continuously increased. Soon military wagon trains began to put in their homogeneous mass. In Kobrin's center through the river Mukhavets by sappers was hastily induced at help to the decayed wooden bridge the pontoon bridge. And not far from bridges, on the flat river bank, in "the Svinyachy podrech", since early morning the estimated commission which bought at first from the Polish refugees, and then from local population of horses and cows whose herds under the own steam went to the East sat.

By order of the Supreme Commander, the grand duke Nikolay Nikolaevich, the adherent of hopelessly outdated military theory of "scorched earth", the villages left to the opponent were liable to ruthless destruction, and their inhabitants were forcibly evacuated far inland. And if in the Polish provinces this order had more likely test character, was carried out with caution, being limited to eviction of inhabitants from territories where military operations were directly performed, then to the East from Bug this order was executed with special eagerness what, first of all, the adjacent Kobrin County suffered from.

Influenced the dreadful beginning of distressful fleeing in the childhood, decades later local old residents with horror remembered how it occurred actually.

Theory of "scorched earth"
On the approaching front notified peals of an artillery cannonade in advance. Then under its accompaniment on the become silent rural streets there was a group of Cossacks to whom the duty to turn the blossoming settlement into a lifeless zone was assigned. Depending on a whim of the Cossack commander a full arbitrariness in the terms provided to inhabitants on collecting was allowed. References to severe orders, verbal admonitions, and even lashes of zealous gimpers quickly heated excessively a panic situation. All this was followed by woman's lamentations, a roar of the frightened children, abuse of the become stupid men and hysterical low of the cows driven from pastures during an inopportune time. For prevention of possible attempts of return the chain a supply, loaded incidentally come hand dobrishky, to the next bolshak connecting to Moskovskoye Highway was surely escorted by Cossacks. After carts there were korovenka attached to them. Besides, as soon as supplies left for a village fence, on the opposite side the set on fire dwellings already blazed.

Mournful campaign
Extremely exhausting was this mnogoverstny campaign during a hot drought, with clouds of not movably hanging suffocating dust. Sharpness of situation was aggravated with the fact that there was nothing to satisfy painful thirst of human masses and cattle as roadside wells and rare reservoirs were taken out to the bottom. Especially it had pernicious effect on children and old men. What set of refugee graves was left along roads by infinite refugee wagon trains!

Only for hundreds of versts from the overtaking front, in Babruysk, and even at the Dnieper, in Rogachyov, this mournful campaign came to an end. There in accuracy what else so was observed recently in Kobrin repeated. The commissions bought horses with supplies and cows, and loaded their owners into teplushka for sending to the new residence. Naturally, so abrupt withdrawal pains for centuries of the settled life were taken especially painfully as to domosedlivy Kobrin district the seasonal works so widespread in other places were completely unknown. It happened to visit the far foreign land only to young recruits enlisted "in Russians" as here used to say in those days.

Refugees from Kobrin
According to such scenario there was a usual evacuation of peasants. With citizens of the power behaved differently, apparently, with a careful eye to the fact that official cancellation of the notorious Ekaterina's law on the pale of settlement of Jews still did not follow. Compulsory evacuation, thus, did not concern them. In passing will be to remind not the liyena that the vast majority of the Kobrin population was made by Jews among whom it did not appear wishing to leave voluntarily rendered habitable places. Otherwise the situation with petty bourgeoises farmers, owners of own horses was. In the majority they preferred to follow the example of peasants, having gone to an unknown distance by own "tyagly force". To horseless petty bourgeoises, it is equal as families of the service class people, the commodity cars equipped with plank beds and adapted for transportation of soldiers were provided. To the evacuated officials three-months salaries - lifting were given. On one family it was allowed to take no more than ten poods of luggage. Points of food supplying the yearned poor creatures round the clock worked at considerable stations is hotter food.

According to the plan of evacuation the cities of the Kaluga and Tambov provinces intended for placements of Kobrin establishments. Other kobrinets were recommended to go to the same provinces. However, the majority preferred not to listen to bossy instructions, and to be settled self-willedally on vast open spaces of the Russian land, the benefit transport was free. Many reached the Caucasus, and even passed for Ural Ridge. New settlers were welcomed, after mass mobilization of men in army the lack of working hands was felt everywhere.

Hard return
Soon after emergence of mass fleeing everywhere in the country refugee committees began to arise. Rendering the much-needed help to hundreds of thousands of families was their purpose.

After the conclusion in 1918. The Brest peace treaty this organization was renamed into Plenbezh. This time the main attention was paid to an exchange of prisoners of war, and then to assistance to return of refugees. However, owing to the raged revolutionary chaos and Civil war families managed to return to the native land in 1918. Was especially sharply ached with nostalgia nevterpezh to wait for official permission of a refugee question. When active military operations ceased, having turned into large-scale position war, certain daredevils did attempts to make the way on the West through rather transparent front line. For transportation of a personal estate the loshadenka with the vehicle was by sharing the cost got. And for the rest with considerable options what happened in 1915, in the western direction this time repeated.

For other weight the refugee harvest season came to the end only at the very end of 1923. And if in 1915 vast wagon trains of poleshuk were forced to leave for certain whole world that, naturally, was considerable moral support, then for overcoming of a way back often it was necessary to show remarkable own initiative, convulsively finding out where and when railway echelons, and even separate cars for "repatriates" are formed (soon there was popular such word). Useful will be to remember that in Russia revolutionary confusion continued to rage at this time. To whom there was a business to destinies of these poor fellows?

A. Martynov