Byelorrussian Soviet Socialist Republic

Byelorrussian Soviet Socialist Republic


(Belaruskaia Savetskaia Satsyialistychnaia Respublika), also Byelorussia, Belorussia (Belarus’).

The Byelorussian SSR (BSSR) was formed on Jan. 1, 1919. With the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Dec. 30, 1922, the BSSR entered as a Union republic. It borders with Poland on the west; the Lithuanian SSR on the northwest; the Latvian SSR on the north; the RSFSR on the north, northeast, and east; and the Ukrainian SSR on the south. Area, 207,600 sq km. Population, 9 million (Jan. 15, 1970). Capital, Minsk. The republic is divided into six oblasts and 117 raions. It has 81 cities and 123 urban-type settlements (see Table 1).

The BSSR is a socialist state of workers and peasants, a Union soviet socialist republic, and a constituent part of the USSR. The operant constitution of the BSSR was confirmed by the Extraordinary Twelfth Congress of Soviets of the BSSR on Feb. 19, 1937. The supreme organ of state power is the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the BSSR, which is

Table 1. Administrative territorial division (Jan. 1, 1970)
OblastTerritory (sq km)Number of citiesNumber of urban-type settlements

elected for periods of four years on the basis of one deputy for 20,000 residents. In the period between sessions of the Supreme Soviet, the highest organ of state power is the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the BSSR. The Supreme Soviet forms the government of the republic—the Council of Ministers; it also adopts the laws of the BSSR and so on. The local governmental organs in the oblasts, raions, cities, settlements, and villages are the respective soviets of working people, which are elected by the population for two years. Byelorussia is represented by 32 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

The highest judicial organ of Byelorussia is the republic’s Supreme Court, which is elected by the Supreme Soviet of the BSSR for five-year periods; it operates through two judicial boards (for civil and criminal cases) and a plenum. In addition, there is the Presidium of the Supreme Court. The procurator of the BSSR is appointed by the general procurator of the USSR for a period of five years.

Byelorussia occupies the western outskirts of the East European plain, within the basins of the Dnieper (middle course), the Zapadnaia Dvina, and the upper course of the Neman. Characteristic of the surface of the republic, which is on the whole flat, is the alternation of elevated, flat, and depressed areas, which are swampy and occupied by lakes in some places.

Terrain The basic features of the terrain are, to a considerable degree, the product of Anthropogenic continental glaciation. The surface of the northwestern part of Byelorussia is formed by a system of well-preserved morainic chains of the period of the last (Valdai) glaciation. The most significant are the Sventsiansk, Braslav, and Osvei ridges—parts of the Baltic morainic chain. Swampy low-lands with sections of morainic and kame hills (Neman, Narochan-Vilei, Polotsk, and so on) stretch between the morainic chains. The Byelorussian chain extends from west to east. It consists of various elevations—including the Grodno, Volkovysk, Novogrudok, Minsk, Vitebsk, and Orshansk elevations—which were formed essentially during the Moscow glaciation and subsequently dissected by the valleys of rivers and streams. The Minsk elevation, with Mount Dzerzhinskii, the highest point in Byelorussia (345 m above sea level), is particularly dissected. The southeastern part of Byelorussia is occupied by a band of glacial (glacier, loess, and alluvial) plains; of these, the one with the highest elevation (up to 240 m) is the Orsha-Mogilev Plain. The Central Berezina and the small Baranovichi and Pribug plains serve as its extension in the west. Situated lower (150–100 m) is Byelorussian Poles’e in the south of the republic; its monotonously flat surface was formed primarily by gla-ciofluvial and postglacial river deposits. In the extreme south, eroded morainic hills and ridges of the era of maximal (Dnieper) glaciation project in places—for example, the Mozyr Ridge.


Geological structure and mineral resources The territory of Byelorussia is located in the western part of the East European Platform. The depths of stratification of the crystalline substructure distinguish the Byelorussian anticline; the Pripiat’, Brest, and Orsha basins; and the Poles’e, Zhlobinsk, and Latvian troughs. The Ukrainian Shield enters the southern part of Byelorussia, the Voronezh anticline its eastern part. The crystalline substructure occurs at depths of 20–100 to 1,000–5,000 m and crops out only in the most southerly section (the village of Glushkovichi, Lel’chitśy Raion). Distinguishable in its composition are rocks of the Lower Proterozoic and Archean periods. In the sedimentary stratum, the thickness of which reaches 1,000–5,000 m, primarily terrigenous and carbonaceous deposits of all ages are established, from the Upper Proterozoic (Riff and Wend) to the Neocene and Anthropogenic.

Byelorussia has deposits of various minerals. Particularly notable among these are the beds of potassium salts (sylvite, carnallite), which came to light in 1949 (the Starobin and Petrikov deposits). Deposits of rock salt have been discovered (1941) in the southern and southeastern portions of Byelorussia (Starobin, Davydov, and Mozyr). Deposits of oil discovered during 1964–68 are associated with the Pripiat’ Depression (Rechitsa, Ostashkov, and Vishan). Lignite, coal, and bituminous shales have been uncovered in the Pripiat’ Depression as well (Gomel’ and Brest oblasts). There are widespread deposits of clays, gravels of carbonaceous raw materials, building stone, and other minerals associated with the sedimentary cover of the platform; there are also beds of peat. There are mineral waters and brines in Byelorussia.


Climate The climate is moderately continental, with considerable influence from Atlantic maritime air (with frequent cyclones) and, to a lesser degree, continental and arctic air. The average annual temperatures vary between 7.4° C in the southwest and 4.4° C in the northeast. The average January temperature ranges between –4.4° C in the southwest and –8° C in the northeast; July temperatures are between 17° C in the north and 18.8° C in the south. The absolute maximum temperature is 37° C (Brest, Gomel’), the absolute minimum, –41°C (Vitebsk). The average annual precipitation is between 500 mm in the south and 700 mm on the elevations of the middle belt. More than two-thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the warm season. The growing season (with average daily temperatures above 5° C) ranges between 178 and 208 days.

Rivers and lakes Rivers belong to the basins of the Black and Baltic seas. The total length of rivers (over 5 km long) is more than 51,000 km. The density of the river network is 0.20–0.28 km/km2. The largest rivers of Byelorussia are the Dnieper (with its tributaries, including the Pripiat’, Sozh, and Berezina), the Zapadnaia Dvina, and the Neman (with its tributary the Viliia). The upper reaches of the Lovat’ River (Neva basin) are in the northeast. The rivers are fed by mixed sources, primarily by snow and rain. All the rivers are characterized by spring flooding and high water in summer and fall. (In the basins of the Zapadnaia Dvina and Neman, there are high waters in winter, as well.) Rivers are used for navigation, timber floating, and, to a lesser degree, as a source of energy. Many rivers are used as receptacles for water when swamps are drained. The navigable rivers are the Dnieper, Berezina, and Neman. Vessels move on the Pripiat’ to the Bug by way of the Dnieper-Bug Canal.

There are more than 10,700 lakes (along with ancient riverbeds). Of these, only 1,351 are greater than 0.1 sq km in area, and 279 are over 1 sq km. The most sizable lakes of glacial origin, diverse in their configurations, are characteristic of the north of the republic (Naroch’, 79.6 sq km; Osveiskoe, 52.8 sq km, and others). In the central bank, lakes are small and overgrown, primarily ancient riverbeds and undermined karst. In the south—the Poles’e—there are many riverbed and residual shallow lakes among the tracts of peat bog; the most sizable are Chervonoe (43.6 sq km) and Vygo-novskoe (26.0 sq km). Lakes regulate the flow of river waters. With the rivers, they serve as transportation routes; they are used in a number of cases as coolants for thermal electric power plants (the Berezovo and Lukoml’ state regional power plants). There are sizable reserves of sapropels on the bottoms of many lakes; these can be put to use as fertilizers and chemical raw material. Many lakes are rich in fish, and some are specially stocked. There are health resorts and tourist centers on the shores of a number of lakes.

Soils Soddy-podzolic soils of various mechanical structures and degrees of podzolization predominate in Byelorussia (about 60 percent of the land); in the western section, soils similar to brown forest soils, as well as gley-podzolic soils, stand out; in the lowlands (especially in the Poles’e) there are soddy-bog and bog (22.7 percent) and sandy soddy-podzolic soils. Alluvial-meadow soils are prevalent in the valleys of the large rivers. About 0.5 percent of the territory of Byelorussia (Stolin, Zhitkovichi, and Mstislavl’ raions) has soddy-humus-calcareous soils with a sizable humus content.

Over one-third the territory of Byelorussia is occupied by swamps and excessively moistened lands, which are especially prevalent in the Poles’e, Dnieper, and other lowlands. In this regard, a vast amount of land drainage work has been carried out under Soviet power; this is of particularly great importance for the development of agriculture. The area of land with drainage networks reached 1,472,000 hectares (ha) in 1969 (499,000 ha in 1913, 665,000 ha in 1940).

Flora Byelorussia is situated within the subzone of mixed forest. Forest occupies over one-third the territory of the republic, meadows and pasture about one-fifth, swamp and scrub land less than one-tenth, and cultivated vegetation about one-third. Nearly two-thirds of the total forested area consists of coniferous varieties, including pine (56.3 percent) and spruce (9 percent). Birch predominates among the small-leaved varieties. Broad-leaved woods (oak, white beech, maple, ash, and linden) occupy over 5 percent of the forested area. In the north of Byelorussia, broad-leaved spruce and fir woods are prevalent; in the central, more elevated part of the republic, mixed white beech, oak, and spruce forests grow, along with pine forests; and in the south, there are white beech and white beech and oak forests. In the Poles’e, broad-leaved pine predominate. Small-leaf varieties are encountered everywhere. Mature forests occupy 15.3 percent and ripening forests 26.7 percent of the wooded area. A number of new varieties are being introduced on forest plantations, including Siberian larch, Crimean pine, and red oak.

Swampy territory occupies more than 20 percent of the republic, actual swamps with soddy bogs 12 percent. Flood-land grassy swamp makes up 80 percent of the swampland of Byelorussia (it is especially widespread in the Poles’e). Its vegetative cover is dominated by sedges, several species of grasses, and mixed grass. Upland swamps with a predominance of sphagnum are characteristic of the north of Byelorussia.

Fauna The fauna of Byelorussia combines representatives of broad-leaved forests, taiga, and forest steppe (roe deer, squirrel, flying squirrel, crossbill, speckled gopher, steppe lark, and others). Beaver, otter, and mink are encountered at ponds. Waterfowl are abundant. Among fish, there is great diversity of carp (more than 20 varieties). New varieties of fauna have become acclimatized, including the Ussuri raccoon dog, American raccoon, and muskrat, and the Amur carp in ponds. Game animals include the fox, hare, elk, boar, wild fowl and waterfowl.

Preserves The Berezina Preserve (on the Berezina River) and a number of temporary preserves were established to protect and restore nature. The preserve played a large role in the reacclimatization of the beaver. The Belovezh Virgin Forest—a distinctive laboratory of live nature which enjoys worldwide fame—is situated in Byelorussia. It is the only ancient forest tract in Europe with pine forests, white beech and oak woods, alder thickets, and spruce groves. Numerous species of valuable animals are represented in the forest (red deer, roe deer, and wild boar, for instance). The European bison, with which the history of this forest tract is connected, is of particular value. In 1969 the Pripiat’ State Landscape and Hydrological Preserve was established in Gomel’ Oblast (Zhitkovichi and Petrikov raions).

Natural regions The Byelorussia-Valdai Region occupies the north of Byelorussia; it is divided into the Byelorussian lake region, with relatively young hilly-morainic terrain, and the Byelorussian chain, with more ancient denuded hilly-morainic terrain. The Zapadnaia Dvina is the largest river. There are many lakes. Swampy land makes up 18 percent of the territory, forested land about 25 percent. Sandy floodplains are covered with pine forests (up to 50 percent); and spruce and oak forests, with admixtures of small-leaf varieties, are associated with higher ground.

The Latgal and Braslavl’ elevations occupy the extreme northwest of the republic; they have young hilly-morainic lake relief.

The western Byelorussia region stretches out from the western borders of Byelorussia and tapers in the east to the Kopyl’ Ridge. In the northeast it adjoins the spurs of the Oshmian and Minsk elevations, and in the south it borders on the Poles’e. The terrain is hilly-morainic, in combination with ground-morainic (the Lida and Bug plains) and glacial (the Upper and Middle Neman floodplains). Its rivers belong to the basins of the Neman and the Bug. The Neman is the main river. Mixed spruce, oak, and white beech forests, alternating with pine forests, are prevalent.

The eastern Byelorussia region—northeast of the Belynichi-Mogilev-Krasnopol’e Line—is located, in large part, beyond Byelorussia, in Smolensk and Moscow oblasts. It is an elevated, plateau-like plain, characterized by numerous undermined sinkholes and sharply notched valleys, which are accompanied by ravines and gullies. The main rivers are the Dnieper and its tributary, the Sozh. Forests are preserved primarily in the southwest: spruce, pine, aspen-birch, and less frequently oak and oak-white beech. Much of the territory (50–60 percent) is cultivated.

The Predpoles’e is located in the central and southeastern part of Byelorussia. It includes a broad belt of plains which extend from the morainic elevations of the Byelorussian chain to the Poles’e. Plains relief predominates. The rivers are the tributaries of the Dnieper—the Berezina (most important), Sozh, Drut’, and Ptich’. Approximately one-third of the territory is plowed land. (Sections with loamy soils are plowed.) There are large tracts of mixed forests. The Poles’e is a vast swampy lowland. It extends 500 km from the Bug to the Sozh. In the north it borders the flat-hilly expanses of the western Byelorussian region and the Central Berezina Plain; in the south it merges with the Ukrainian Poles’e. Most of the rivers of the Poles’e belong to the basin of the Pripiat’. Forests occupy about 30 percent of the territory. Pine forests, distinctive types of broad-leaved and mixed forests, and lowland swamps are most prevalent.


Geografiia Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Belorussia. (Seriia Sovetskii Soiuz.) Moscow, 1967.
Makhnach, A. S., and L. M. Vazniachuk. Gealahichnae minulae Belarusi. Minsk, 1959.
Korulin, D. M. Geologiia i poleznye iskopaemye Belorussii. Minsk, 1962.
Lukashev, K. I., and A. S. Makhnach. Pripiatskaia vpadina—sokrovishchintsa nedr Belorussii. Minsk, 1966.
Fizicheskaia i ekonomicheskaia geografiia BSSR. Minsk, 1960.
Sredniaia polosa Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR. (Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR, issue 2). Moscow, 1967.
Pochvy BSSR. Minsk, 1952.
Shkliar, A. Kh. Klimat Belorussii i sel’skoe khoziaistvo. Minsk, 1962.
Belorussiia i Verkhnee Podneprov’e, part 1. (Resursy poverkhnostnykh vod SSSR, vol. 5.) Leningrad, 1966.
Iakushko, O. F. Geografiia ozer Belorussii. Minsk, 1967.
Iurkevich, I. D., and V. S. Gel’tman. Geografiia, tipologiia i raionirovanie lesnoi rastitel’nosti Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Rastitel’nyi pokrov Belorussii. Minsk, 1969.
Voronin, F. N. Fauna Belorussii i okhrana prirody (pozvonochnye). Minsk, 1967.


The bulk of the population of Byelorussia is made up of Byelorussians, who number 6,532,000, or 82.5 percent of the total number of Byelorussians in the USSR, according to the census of 1959. Russians (659,000), Jews (150,000), and Ukrainians (133,000) live primarily in cities and urban-type settlements; Poles (539,000) live in the western regions. There are also Tatars, Lithuanians, Letts, and other peoples living in the republic.

Byelorussia ranks fifth among the Union republics in size of population, following the RSFSR, Ukrainian SSR, Kazakh SSR, and Uzbek SSR. Between 1913 and 1970, the total population grew by 30.5 percent (see Table 2). The population of Byelorussia sustained great losses during the Great Patriotic War. During the German fascist occupation of Byelorussia, 2,225,000 Soviet citizens were annihilated.

In terms of territory, Byelorussia occupies less than 1 percent of the USSR, but 3.7 percent of the population of the Soviet Union is concentrated in it. The average density is 43.4 per sq km (1970; 33.2 in 1913). The central regions are most densely settled (Minsk Oblast, 60.2 per sq km; Grodno Oblast, 44.8; and Mogilev Oblast, 42.3); the lowest density is in the Poles’e (about 25 per sq km). In 1968, 83 percent of the population employed in the republic’s economy (2,818,000 industrial, office, and professional workers, compared to 1,135,000 in 1940) were concentrated in the sphere of material production. Of the total industrial, office, and professional workers, 34 percent were employed in industry, 8 percent in construction, 16 percent in agriculture and forestry, 16 percent in trade and transportation, and 15 percent in public health and education. By the beginning of 1969, women made up 51.8 percent of the total number of industrial, office, and professional workers; 50.8 percent of all the workers in industry, 70 percent of those in education, and 83 percent of those in public health were women. Rapid rates of socialist industrialization have resulted in the growth of the urban population. By early 1970, the urban population had virtually quadrupled in comparison with 1913. Byelorussia’s large cities (population as of 1970) are Minsk (916,000), Gomel’ (272,000), Vitebsk (231,000), Mogilev (202,000), Grodno (192,000), Bobruisk (138,000), and Brest (122,000).

Table 2. Population
1913 (est., at end of year, within contemporary boundaries of BSSR)6,899,000990,0005,909,0001486
1940 (est., Jan. 1)9,046,0001,925,0007,121,0002179
1959 (census, Jan. 15)8,055,0002,481,0005,574,0003169
1970 (census, Jan. 15)9,003,0003,907,0005,096,0004357

Many new cities sprang up under Soviet power, including Svetlogorsk, Soligorsk, Bereza, and Zhodino. A young city, Novopolotsk, arose side by side with the ancient Polotsk. It is a center for oil refining and the chemical industry. The new industrial center Novolukoml’ is growing.


Primitive communal system The first traces of the existence of man on the territory of Byelorussia go back to the Middle Paleolithic, the Mousterian culture. Human settlements of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic have been unearthed near the villages of Berdyzh and Podluzh’e in Chechersk Raion and lurevichi in Kalinkovichi Raion, Gomel’ Oblast. Several hundred settlements of the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age have been discovered on the territory of Byelorussia. During the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic, people engaged in gathering, hunting, and fishing. Farming and cattle raising arose in the Neolithic period, becoming the primary occupation during the Bronze Age (3000–2000 B.C.). Along with the more advanced stone tools, articles of bronze appeared, made from raw materials brought to the area. Around the seventh century B.C., tribes on the territory of Byelorussia began to make iron implements and to construct fortified settlements. In all, more than a thousand ancient town sites of the Iron Age and the early feudal era are known on the territory of Byelorussia.

The Byelorussian Dniepr region and Poles’e were occupied from the seventh century B.C. by the Milograd culture, and from the first century B.C. by the Zarubintsy culture. Characteristic monuments of these cultures have been exposed near the villages of Chaplino (Loev Raion, Gomel’ Oblast) and Obidovichi, Obidnia, and Taimonovo (Bykhov Raion, Mogilev Oblast). Various scholars link these cultures to the ancient Slavs. In the early Iron Age, central and northern Byelorussia were occupied by tribes of the Baltic language groups—shaded-ceramic culture and Dnieper-Dvina culture. During the second through fifth centuries A.D., Slavs gradually began to penetrate this area from the Byelorussian Dnieper region; by the ninth century they had assimilated Baltic tribes.

During the eighth and ninth centuries, three basic early medieval Slavic cultures took shape within Byelorussia: in the Poles’e, the Khotomel’ culture (named after the main site at the village of Khotomel’, Stolin Raion); in the basin of the Dnieper, the Bykhov culture (named after the main site near Novyi Bykhov); and in central and northern Byelorussia, a culture of the Bantserovshchina type (named after the main site at the village of Bantserovshchina, Minsk Raion). During the second half of the first millennium A.D., a process of deterioration of primitive communal relations took place on the territory of Byelorussia. By this time, three large tribal groupings had developed: the Poles’e and part of central Byelorussia were occupied by the Dregovichi, the basin of the Sozh River by the Radimichi, and the Dvina and upper Dnieper regions by the Krivichi.

Origin and development of the feudal system (ninth to 16th centuries). The socioeconomic evolution of the Slavic tribes in the territory of Byelorussia accelerated perceptibly during the sixth to ninth centuries. The development of agriculture and crafts facilitated the expansion of trade and the birth of cities, the most ancient of which were Polotsk and Turov. The property and social inequality which became established within rural society became the basis for the formation of class feudal relations.

The ancient Russian state (Kievan Rus’) formed during the ninth century. It gradually came to include the territory of Byelorussia. In the process of rapprochement and state unification of all the Eastern Slavic tribes, a single ancient Russian nationality took shape. Out of this nationality, three Slavic peoples subsequently formed: Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian. Plow farming spread extensively in the western lands of Rus’ from the ninth to the 11th centuries, and livestock raising developed. Peasant crafts were closely connected to farming. In general, agriculture maintained a natural character. There was an expansion of feudal land-holding by the princes, boyars, and church. An ever-increasing mass of peasants became feudally dependent, subject to corvée and paying quitrent in kind to feudal lords. Handicrafts, of a commodity character, developed considerably in both the cities and the countryside. There were more than 40 varieties of crafts in the cities. Freemen made up the bulk of city craftsmen; in the villages, some of the craftsmen maintained their personal freedom, and others were in a state of feudal dependence. Trade was conducted beyond the borders of Rus’, as well—with Poland, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Volga-Kama. Cities were founded: Berest’e (Brest) and Vitebsk in the first half of the 11th century, and somewhat later, Minsk (first mentioned around 1067), Pinsk, Borisov, Orsha, and others. Cities were not only political and economic centers but also the cultural centers of the lands.

The Polotsk, Turov, and Smolensk principalities were formed in the process of the feudal fragmentation of the ancient Russian state at the turn of the 12th century. These then broke up into smaller principalities; toward the end of the 12th century, the Grodno, Slutsk, Orsha, Mstislavl’, Novogrudok, Logoisk, Drutsk, and other principalities emerged.

During the second half of the 13th century, amid the intense struggle against Mongol Tatar onslaughts and the pillaging raids of the Teutonic orders of knights, the Lithuanian princes seized the feudal principalities of western Rus’. In the early 14th century, they succeeded essentially in bringing the western Rus’ lands into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. These lands occupied the major part of the duchy’s territory.

As a result of the separation of western Rus’ from the other lands of the ancient Russian state, the distinctive features of the language, culture, and customs of the people of western Rus’ began to gain force. The economic and other ties which developed in the various countries helped to make these distinctive features common to the entire population of those western Rus’ lands which had entered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Byelorussian nationality began to take form. Later, the name “Belaia Rus’” was extended to all the western Rus’ lands.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, the population increased markedly and the area of cultivated land expanded on the territory of Byelorussia. The iron-tipped wooden plow became the main implement for working the land. The numbers of rural craftsmen grew, as did the number of urban settlements. During the 13th century and afterward, ownership of the land was retained by the familial communal household, which consisted of three to five households (dymy). Sometimes the communal household (dvorishche) included not only relatives but outsiders as well. The communal household was regarded as a tax unit: feudal duties were generally charged not to the individual households but to the communal ones. At the same time, there was an increase in the dispensation of lands to feudal lords, especially the nobility (szlacht), by the grand princes of Lithuania. Service land tenure gradually turned into hereditary tenure.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, feudal land property in Byelorussia grew at the expense of communal peasant lands, which were plundered by the feudal lords, and also through the seizure of lands belonging to the grand princes. The growth of feudal landholding and the increase in feudal obligations in Byelorussia and Lithuania were accompanied by the further expansion of the privileges of the local nobility (the gentry and clergy), the restriction of peasants’ rights to ownership of the land, and their subordination to the authority of the feudal lords. One of the most important legislative enactments on the enserfment of peasants was adopted in 1447 by Grand Prince Casimir IV of Lithuania. This document prevented privately owned peasants from moving to grand princely estates. The status of peasants as subjects of the feudal lord on whose lands they resided was consolidated.

At the end of the 14th century, the Teutonic Order’s attack on the lands of Poland and Lithuania gained force. It was in this situation that the Union of Krevo was signed in 1385 by Lithuania and Poland (in the fortress of Krevo). Under the conditions of the union, Jagello—the grand prince of Lithuania—was elected king of Poland as well by the Polish feudal lords. This marked the merger of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland into one state. The policies of Jagello, which corresponded to the interests, first and foremost, of the Polish feudal lords, produced powerful opposition among the Lithuanian and Byelorussian feudal lords. The opposition was headed by the king’s first cousin, Vitovt.

The independence of the Lithuanian state was reestablished by an agreement signed in Ostrow (1392). In the course of the struggle waged by Lithuania and Poland against the aggression of the Teutonic Order, the battle of Grunwald was of decisive significance (July 15, 1410). After the destruction of the Order, the new Polish-Lithuanian Union of Gorodel was signed in 1413. By this union, the independence of the Lithuanian state was acknowledged, but with the Polish king’s supreme authority over the grand princes of Lithuania. The conditions of the Union of Gorodel stipulated that Catholic feudal lords were to have special privileges in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

With the expansion of the internal market, and particularly with the rapidly increasing demand of the Western European countries for agricultural products, the farmstead corvée system of farming spread ever more widely in Byelorussia from the end of the 15th century. From the mid-16th century, this trend was facilitated by the introduction of a land reform, called volochnaia pomera, both on state and on private feudal landholdings. As a result of this reform, the landlord’s tillage and the corvée obligations of the peasants to the estate were increased significantly. Volochnaia pomera replaced communal land tenure by individual household tenure.

The Lithuanian statutes of 1566 and particularly of 1588 increased the peasants’ personal dependence on the feudal lords and formalized juridically the complete enserfment of the peasants. The feudal lords’ unlimited punitive rights over their peasants—including capital punishment—was established. The previously diverse categories of the peasantry were merged now into a single mass of serfs, the khlopy. The increase in feudal exploitation ruined the peasants and spurred them to protest. During the 15th and 16th centuries, flights by peasants from one landlord to another increased in frequency, as well as flights to Russia, the Ukraine, and Poland or to join the cossacks. During the 16th century and the first half of the 17th, large tracts of state lands in Byelorussia passed into the possession of feudal lords, especially magnates, and the Catholic Church. The szlacht received special preferences in the conduct of foreign trade.

Despite the broad extension of the farmstead corvée and the growth of the privileges of the gentry, which served as brakes on the economic development of Byelorussia, its cities continued to grow, and numerous small urban settlements arose. Handicraft production became ever more differentiated and commodity oriented. The volume of trade increased. Russian-Byelorussian trade ties were important for the development of Byelorussian cities. Goods imported from Russia served as raw materials and semifinished products for Byelorussian handicrafts. The weakening of the Teutonic orders of knights aided the growth of trade between the Byelorussian cities and the countries of Western Europe. Byelorussian merchants conducted intermediary trade on a large scale between Russia and Western Europe.

The growing economic importance of the cities of Byelorussia permitted several of them to attain self-government fom the grand princely authorities as early as the end of the 14th century on the basis of the Magdeburg laws; these cities included Brest (1390), Grodno (1391), Slutsk (1441), Polotsk (1498), Minsk (1499), Mogilev (1561), and Vitebsk (1597). The organizing of handicraft guilds took shape in the late 15th and the 16th centuries. Inequality in property and social standing developed between the upper elements and the bulk of the urban population. During the 16th and 17th centuries, gospody were founded in several Byelorussian cities. These were organizations of apprentices and journeymen; their functions included mutual aid in the event of illness and the restriction of the arbitrary behavior of the master craftsmen. City communes waged a struggle against the extension of the holdings of feudal lords into the cities.

To strengthen their domination, the feudal lords of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania strove for an alliance with the Polish feudal lords. The Lithuanian, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian szlacht of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania aspired to obtain the same broad political rights as those held by the Polish gentry. The failure suffered by the Lithuanian state in the Livonian War of 1558–83 with Russia forced the local magnates to enter into the state union with Poland that the Polish feudal lords had long sought. By the Union of Lublin of 1569, one state was created, the Rzecz Pospolita, which incorporated two administratively demarcated territories—Poland (Crown) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Lublin Union made it possible for Polish magnates to seize Ukrainian lands.

In alliance with the Vatican, the center of the Catholic Church, the Polish authorities began to build Roman Catholic churches and monasteries in Byelorussia and the Ukraine, in the attempt to convert the Byelorussian and Ukrainian peoples to Catholicism. The majority of Orthodox Byelorussian and Lithuanian feudal lords soon converted to Catholicism. The upper Orthodox clergy embarked on a rapprochement with the Catholic clergy; however, the popular masses decisively rejected Catholicism. The Vatican and the feudal lords of the Rzecz Pospolita then decided to attract Byelorussians and Ukrainians to Catholicism by means of a union of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Under the terms of this union, formalized in Brest in 1596, the Orthodox church of Byelorussia and the Ukraine accepted Catholic dogmas and became subordinate to the Roman pope; however, they essentially retained their previous Orthodox rites. The union was accepted by the majority of the higher Orthodox clergy, but it was propagated among the mass of the Byelorussian and Ukrainian people by measures of compulsion.

Struggle of the popular masses against intensification of feudal oppression; reunification with Russia (17th–18th centuries). The intensification of feudal and national-religious oppression produced ever-growing resistance among the popular masses of Byelorussia and an attraction toward the fraternal Russian people, to whom they were joined by a common historical development and long-standing, close economic and cultural ties. This struggle assumed a particularly sharp character at the end of the 16th century. In 1590, detachments of peasants and cossacks led by Matiusha destroyed landlord estates in the region of Mogilev and Bykhov. A large antifeudal uprising of peasants and cossacks took place in 1595 under the leadership of S. Nalivaiko. The insurgents succeeded in taking such large cities as Slutsk and Mogilev for a time. In the first half of the 17th century, there were uprisings of townspeople in Mogilev (1606–10), Vitebsk (1623), and Polotsk (1633).

In the struggle against the oppression of the Polish feudal lords and Catholic Church, a prominent role was played by brotherhoods, Orthodox religious organizations which arose at the end of the 16th century in a number of large cities of Byelorussia. These organizations also aided the development of Byelorussian culture by founding schools and printing presses.

The process of the formation of the Byelorussian nationality was essentially completed in the 16th century. An important role in the development of the Byelorussian culture of that period was played by Byelorussia’s first printer, the scholar and humanist Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina. The prominent figures of Byelorussian culture of the 16th century also included two representatives of the Reformation and the humanist movement, Simon Budnyi and Vasilii Tiapinskii; in the 17th century the poet and scholar Simeon Polotsky was prominent. By the summer of 1648, the national liberation movement against Polish feudal lords which had begun in the Ukraine in that year had spread to Byelorussia, much of which was quickly enveloped by the uprising. The cossack detachments under Golovatskii, Anton Nebaba, Garkusha, Mikhenenko, Krivoshapka, Poddubskii, and other leaders were sent from Bogdan Khmel’nitskii’s army to the aid of the insurgent Byelorussian peasants. By early 1649, the troops of Rzecz Pospolita had harshly suppressed the main centers of the uprising. However, in the spring of that year, with the support of the cossack detachments from the Ukraine of Ilia Golota, Stepan Podbailo, and Mikhail Krichevskii, the popular uprising spread once more over a vast area. Only after military actions in the Ukraine were ended by the Belotserkov’ Treaty of 1651 were the feudal lords of the Rzecz Pospolita able to break the resistance of the rebels. The residents of a number of Byelorussian cities turned to the Russian government with the request that they be accepted as Russian subjects.

During the course of Russia’s war against the Rzecz Pospolita for the liberation of the Ukraine and Byelorussia (1654–67), the Byelorussian population supported Russian forces. At the end of 1655, Russian troops occupied virtually the entire territory of Byelorussia; however, they were later forced to withdraw. The war ended with the conclusion of the Truce of Andrusovo (1667). Military devastation, along with the hunger and epidemics that accompanied it, brought Byelorussia to a state of extreme decline. The population decreased by nearly half. The arbitrariness of feudal lords and the national oppression of the Byelorussian people intensified. Most of the schools and printing presses organized by the brotherhoods were closed. The Byelorussian language was driven out by Polish in state institutions and among representatives of the ruling class. The population was forcibly converted to Catholicism and the Uniate religion. Under these conditions, even with a certain decrease in corvée labor, the economy of Byelorussia was restored extremely slowly.

During the Northern War of 1700–21, military actions unfolded on the territory of Byelorussia over a number of years (beginning with 1705). The population offered active support to Russian troops. The war, the Swedish occupation, and epidemics returned Byelorussia once more to the state in which it found itself after the wars of the mid-17th century.

Byelorussia’s agriculture was essentially restored by the middle of the 18th century. However, the cities still remained in a state of decline. Their economic recovery and advances in the economy of Byelorussia as a whole became perceptible only in the second half of the 18th century. By the end of that century, the population far and away exceeded the level of the first half of the 17th century. The volume of trade grew, especially the export of products of field-crop cultivation and forestry. Craft production in cities rose and became ever more commodity oriented; rudimentary forms of capitalist manufacture arose, and production for middlemen expanded. Large feudal lords founded factories on their patrimonial estates, and serfs were given wages to stimulate their labor in these enterprises. Social differentiation among the peasantry began to be perceptible. However, the dominance of the gentry and clergy in the Rzecz Pospolita actively restrained the economic development of Byelorussia. In the 18th century, the popular masses of Byelorussia continued the struggle against feudal and national-religious oppression. The most significant action of this period was the peasant uprising in Krichev Starostvo (1740–44) led by V. Voshchilo.

As a result of the three partitions of the Rzecz Pospolita (1772, 1793, and 1795) the lands of Byelorussia reverted to Russia. Reunification with Russia was of great progressive significance for Byelorussia. Its economy was drawn into the vast all-Russian market, and the Byelorussian people gained access to the kindred, more developed Russian culture; the forcible conversion of the Byelorussian people to Catholicism ceased. However, the policies of tsarism in all areas of social life had a great-power orientation. In 1840, the use of the word “Byelorussia” was forbidden by a special edict.

Origin and development of capitalist relations (late 18th–19th centuries). During the Patriotic War of 1812, Byelorussia suffered greatly from the French occupation. The Byelorussian peasantry participated actively in the partisan movement against the Napoleonic forces. After its entry into Russia, Byelorussia’s economic development accelerated, and a capitalist structure took shape. The number of industrial enterprises in Byelorussia (excluding distilleries and mills) grew from 213 in 1796 to 942 in 1860. The number of workers increased correspondingly from 2,880 to 9,270 (including 5,000 wage laborers). Enterprises processing agricultural raw goods predominated in industrial production. At the end of the first half of the 19th century, the use of steam engines began in a number of factories. For the period between 1825 and 1861, the population of 42 Byelorussian cities increased from 151,000 to 320,000. Agriculture was more and more connected to the market, the area of plowed land grew, planting of industrial crops expanded, the relative importance of potatoes and sugar beets increasing considerably, raising of fine-fleeced sheep began, and the use of agricultural machines began on a number of landlord estates. However, the development of the economy of Byelorussia was restrained by serfdom. In the first half of the 19th century, more than three-fourths of the Byelorussian peasants belonged to landlords; of these, 97 percent were on the corvée system in the 1850’s. The crisis of the feudal-serf system, which intensified in Russia during the 1840’s and 1850’s, was manifested sharply in Byelorussia. The reforms of 1861 were exploitative in nature in Byelorussia, as throughout Russia. The peasants received 35 percent of the total land, but 65 percent remained in the hands of the landlords, state treasury, and church. Mass peasant disturbances began in response to the reforms. The most prominent representative of the democratic revolutionary movement of the mid-19th century in Byelorussia was F. Savich. The peasantry participated in the 1863 uprising under the leadership of Kastus’ Kalinovskii. The movement forced the tsarist government to make certain concessions: the temporarily obligated status of peasants was abolished in the western provinces, and the total redemption payments and the otrezki (land apportionments) were decreased to some extent.

The abolition of serfdom accelerated the process of the development of capitalism in Byelorussia. Many landlords began to conduct their farms on a capitalist footing; machines were used, and the three-field system was replaced by a multifield system, a change which considerably increased the ratio of commodity output to total output in agriculture. The development of capitalism in agriculture was accompanied by the stratification of the peasantry; at the start of the 20th century the poor peasants made up 61 percent of the total. About 300,000 people annually left their villages for seasonal work. Capitalist relations in agriculture developed more rapidly in the west and center of Byelorussia. The construction of the Moscow-Brest and Libavia-Romny railroads in the second half of the 19th century played a large role in this process. At the end of the 19th century Byelorussia was among the leading areas in Russia in terms of the density of its railroad network. The growth of industry in Byelorussia accelerated during the industrial upsurge of the 1890’s in Russia. During these years, 2.5 times more industrial enterprises were founded than during the previous decade. At the start of the 20th century there were about 800 factories and plants in Byelorussia, employing more than 25,000 workers. The branches of industry that processed local raw materials—primarily food and lumber—maintained their important position. The metal-working industry grew markedly. Between 1861 and 1890, the urban population doubled, while the general population grew by 70 percent. In the second half of the 19th century, the Byelorussian people consolidated into a nation. Byelorussians predominated among workers; there were also Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, and Poles. The industrial bourgeoisie was made up of representatives of the merchant class, wealthy artisans, craftsmen, and landlords who had invested their capital in industrial production.

Period of imperialism and the bourgeois democratic revolutions in Russia (1900–17). At the start of the 20th century, with Russia’s entry into the age of imperialism, the economy of Byelorussia, which was organically connected to the all-Russian market, also acquired new features. Large industrial enterprises became part of Russian cartels and syndicates; they became intertwined with Russian banks. Between 1900 and 1913, the number of factories and plants grew by a factor of more than 1.5. In 1910 there were more than 1,280 enterprises in Byelorussia. About half the workers were employed in enterprises where the numbers of workers exceeded 100. In agriculture, the domination of landlord farming persisted. The Stolypin Agrarian Reform aided the further stratification of the peasantry: up to 20 percent of peasant farms passed to khutors (privately owned homesteads) and otrubs (private farms whose owners live elsewhere). By 1913, the number of kulak farms amounted to 10–11 percent of all peasant farms in Byelorussia. Rural workers amounted to some 200,000, and workers employed in industry, construction, and transportation totaled about 280,000.

The workers’ movement began to unfold in Byelorussia at the end of the 19th century. Under the influence of the St. Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, founded by V. I. Lenin in 1895, social democratic circles and groups arose in Minsk, Vitebsk, Gomel’, Grodno, and other cities. The First Congress of the RSDLP, which laid the basis for the Social Democratic party of Russia, was held in Minsk during Mar. 1–3, 1898. During the Revolution of 1905–07, the working class of Byelorussia actively supported the revolutionary actions of the workers of St. Petersburg and Moscow. In January 1905, about 20,000 Byelorussian workers went on strike. In the October All-Russian Political Strike of 1905, the workers of many Byelorussian cities participated. On Oct. 18, more than 80 people were killed and about 300 wounded during a meeting in Minsk. Political strikes were organized by the workers of Byelorussia during the days of the December armed uprising of 1905 in Moscow; strike committees in Baranovichi, Orsha, and Gomel’ exercised revolutionary power at railroad junctions. During 1906 there were 577 peasant actions in Byelorussia; a wave of strikes by agricultural workers and peasant day laborers spread. Under the influence of the revolutionary actions of the working class and peasantry, the national liberation movement in Byelorussia grew. It had two orientations—revolutionary democratic and liberal bourgeois. The revolutionary social democratic organizations had to wage a struggle against the petit bourgeois nationalist parties—the Bund (which originated in September 1897) and the Byelorussian Socialist Gromada (December 1903).

During World War I, Byelorussia became an arena of military action. Its western part was occupied by German forces in 1915. The western front (1.1 million soldiers in 1917) passed through here. Military workshops for the front were established in Minsk, Mogilev, Gomel’, and Orsha. During these years, Byelorussia was turned into one of the most important sectors of the revolutionary struggle. Soviets of workers’ deputies arose in Minsk, Gomel’, Vitebsk, Bobruisk, Orsha, and other cities in the early days of the February Revolution of 1917. Virtually simultaneously, soviets of soldiers’ deputies were organized in subunits of the western front; they merged into soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies. At the same time, the Provisional Public Committee of Order and Security—a bourgeois organization which was subordinated to the Provisional Government—was founded in Byelorussia. After the rout of Kornilovism (August 1917), in which the working people of Byelorussia and the soldiers of the western front took an active part, the bolshevization of the soviets began. Great credit in the organization of the revolutionary struggle in Byelorussia belongs to M. V. Frunze, A. F. Miasnikov, V. G. Knorin, N. Ia. Alibegov, K. I. Lander, S. G. Mogilevskii, M. I. Kalmanovich, and others.

The Great October Socialist Revolution, the Civil War, and military intervention (1917–20). On Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917, on the day of the October armed uprising in Petrograd, the Minsk soviet of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies seized power in the city. From the first day of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Bolsheviks of Byelorussia and the western front joined actively in the struggle against counterrevolutionary forces. They barred the most important communications junctions to the military units which were heading from the front to suppress the October armed uprisings in Petrograd, Moscow, and other revolutionary centers of Russia on the orders of the Provisional Government. On Oct. 27 (Nov. 9), by the decision of the Northwest Regional Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), a revolutionary committee was created under the auspices of the Minsk soviet; it was then transformed into the Military Revolutionary Committee (VRK) of the Northwest Region and the Western Front. The second congress of soldiers’ committees of the armies of the western front (Nov. 20–25 [Dec. 3–8]) acknowledged the authority of the soviets. The congresses held in Minsk in November—the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies of the Minsk, Vitebsk, and Mogilev provinces; the soviets of peasants’ deputies of Minsk and Vilna provinces, and the soviets of soldiers’ deputies of the western front—unanimously acknowledged Soviet power and approved its first decrees. In accordance with the resolutions of these congresses, the executive committees and the front committee elected at them were unified on Nov. 26 (Dec. 9) and the Regional Executive Committee (Ispolkom) of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies of the Western Region (Obliskomzap) was established under the chairmanship of N. V. Rogozinskii. Authority over all of Byelorussia not occupied by the German forces passed to Obliskomzap. A regional executive organ of authority was formed—the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the Northwest Region and Front, headed by the Bolshevik K. I. Lander.

The October Socialist Revolution liberated the people of Byelorussia from social and national oppression and opened the way for them to create their own Soviet state system.

The establishment of Soviet power in Byelorussia had to struggle against the counterrevolutionary movement led by the Byelorussian Rada. In January and February 1918, the First Polish Corps of Legionnaires, under the command of General I. R. Dovbor-Musnitskii, raised a counterrevolutionary mutiny which was liquidated by revolutionary forces in the middle of February 1918. However, on Feb. 18, 1918, German forces violated the truce and went on the offensive. By March they had seized the greater part of Byelorussia. In response, an active popular resistance movement against the occupiers began. In the autumn of 1918, as many as 100 partisan detachments—some of which numbered up to 500 people—operated in Bobruisk, Borisov, Bykhov, Gomel’, Minsk, Mogilev, Polotsk, Rechitsk, Slutsk, and other districts. The partisan movement was especially powerful around Rudobelka, in Bobruisk District, where detachments were led by the Bolsheviks A. R. Solovei, Maksim Levkov, Maksim Us, and Stepan Zhinko. Between November 1918 and early 1919, the Red Army with the aid of the partisans liberated much of Byelorussia.

Socialist construction unfolded from the first days of the consolidation of Soviet power in Byelorussia. By spring of 1918, worker control over production was established in 67 large enterprises located in territory free from the occupiers. In the first half of 1919, more than half of the industrial enterprises were nationalized. From December 1917 through February 1918 organs of Soviet power set about carrying out the Decree on Land in the countryside. By 1921 peasant landholding in the eastern oblasts of Byelorussia had increased from 4.2 million hectares (1913) to 5.5 million hectares.

On Dec. 25, 1918, at a congress of the Byelorussian sections of the RCP (Bolshevik) in Moscow, a proposal on the establishment of the BSSR was introduced in the name of the Party’s Central Committee. The Sixth Northwest Oblast Conference of the RCP (Bolshevik) was held on Dec. 30–31, 1918, in Smolensk. It adopted a resolution on the formation of the BSSR and declared itself the First Congress of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Byelorussia. On Dec. 31, 1918, the Provisional Revolutionary Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of Byelorussia was established; it included D. F. Zhilunovich (chairman), A. F. Miasnikov, A. G. Cherviakov, S. V. Ivanov, M. I. Kalmanovich, S. I. Berson, and V. I. Iarkin. On Jan. 1, 1919, the government of Byelorussia published the manifesto proclaiming the formation of the BSSR. The date of publication of the manifesto became the date of formation of the BSSR. On Jan. 5, 1919, the government of the BSSR moved to liberated Minsk, which became the capital of the republic.

The first congress of soviets of the BSSR was held in Minsk on Feb. 2–3, 1919. At the congress, Ia. M. Sverdlov, the chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK), proclaimed the resolution of the Presidium of VTsIK “On the Recognition of the Independence of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.” The congress adopted the first constitution of the BSSR (Feb. 3) and a declaration on the establishment of a federal tie with the fraternal RSFSR, elected a central executive committee and a council of people’s commissars, and confirmed the emblem and flag of the BSSR.

During the Civil War and military intervention of 1918–20, thousands of Byelorussians fought in the ranks of the Red Army. In February 1919, Byelorussia was subjected to attack by the forces of bourgeois-landlord Poland, supported by the imperialists of the USA and the Entente. The economic, political, and military unification of Byelorussia and Lithuania came about from a need to struggle against the intervention and internal counterrevolution. The first congress of soviets of Byelorussia (Minsk, Feb. 2–3, 1919), adopted a declaration on the merger of the republics. The same decision was adopted by the first congress of soviets of Lithuania (Vilnius, Feb. 18–20, 1919). The government of the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR, headed by V. S. Mickevičius-Kapsukas, was elected in Vilnius on Feb. 27, 1919. Polish forces seized a considerable part of Byelorussia. Counterrevolution reared its head.

On Mar. 24, 1919, a counterrevolutionary mutiny in Gomel’ erupted. Many communists of Gomel’, including I. I. Lange, N. S. Biletskii, and others, perished in battle against the rebels. On Mar. 29, the Red Army units which had come to the aid of the local communists suppressed the mutiny. On Apr. 11, 1919, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania and Byelorussia resolved to mobilize members of the Party between 18 and 35 years of age to the eastern and western fronts. On June 1, 1919, the VTsIK published a decree on the military alliance of the Soviet republics of the RSFSR, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Byelorussia for the struggle against international imperialism. In April 1920, during the Soviet-Polish war of 1920, Polish forces undertook a new offensive. From May through July 1920, the Red Army, along with Byelorussian partisan detachments, threw back the Polish army. On July 11, 1920, Minsk was liberated. Soviet power was reestablished in Byelorussia. In Lithuania, on the other hand, Soviet power was not successfully reestablished: the bourgeoisie took power, forming a bourgeois republic which lasted until 1940.

On July 31, 1920, at a session of representatives of the Communist Party of Lithuania and Byelorussia and of soviet and trade union organizations of Minsk and Minsk Province, a declaration on the separation of Lithuania and Byelorussia and the establishment of the independent BSSR was adopted.

Period of socialist construction (1921–40) The industry and agriculture of Byelorussia were ruined during the years of the imperialist and civil wars. More than half of the industrial enterprises were destroyed, and the others were idle. The sown area had decreased by 36.5 percent. The RSFSR offered much aid to Byelorussia in the reestablishment of its economy: it sent the Byelorussian people foodstuffs, manufactured goods, raw materials, and equipment for enterprises. On Jan. 16, 1921, a treaty of military and economic alliance was signed by the RSFSR and the BSSR. Under the difficult conditions of the Civil War and military intervention, western Byelorussia passed to Poland by the Peace Treaty of Riga between Soviet Russia and Poland, signed Mar. 18, 1921. On Dec. 30, 1922, the BSSR became a constituent part of the USSR. By agreement with the RSFSR, the decree of VTsIK of Mar. 3, 1924, transferred eight districts of Vitebsk Province, six districts of Gomel’ Province, and one district of Smolensk Province to the BSSR; by a decree of Dec. 6, 1926, the Gomel’ and Rechitsa districts of the RSFSR, settled primarily by Byelorussians, were transferred to the BSSR.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party, the Byelorussian people scored significant successes in the socialist transformation of the republic. By the end of 1925, the socialist sector’s share in the large industry of Byelorussia amounted to 97 percent; more than half of the output of craft industry was produced by the cooperative sector. Collective farms were established in the countryside (81 associations for the common cultivation of the land, 467 agricultural artels, and 63 agricultural communes in 1928). During the prewar five-year plans, new branches of industry arose in Byelorussia, and more than 1,700 industrial enterprises were built (machine-tool plants in Minsk, Vitebsk, and Gomel’; the Gomel’ plant for agricultural machines; the Bobruisk and Gomel’ woodworking concerns; the Mogilev artificial-fiber factory, and so on). Byelorussia created its own fuel and energy base using peat; the reconstruction of transportation was carried out. For its successes in socialist construction and the development of its economy, the BSSR was awarded the Order of Lenin on Mar. 15, 1935. By 1940, the gross output of large industry of the eastern oblasts of the BSSR had risen by a factor of 23 in comparison with 1913; in 1940, the volume of the entire industry of the BSSR (along with western Byelorussia, which had become part of the BSSR in 1939) had risen by a factor of 8.1 in comparison with 1913, the output of electric power had grown by a factor of 169.5, and the extraction of peat by a factor of 240. The exploitation of man by man was completely abolished; unemployment and poverty disappeared. The kolkhoz system had triumphed in the agriculture of Byelorussia. On the eve of the Great Patriotic War, there were 92 sovkhozes, 316 machine and tractor stations, and 10,165 kolkhozes (excluding collective fisheries), which united 766,700 peasant farms. Between 1913 and 1940, the sown area in Byelorussia increased by 14.8 percent. The sown area under industrial crops rose particularly strongly—flax fiber by a factor of 2.6 and potatoes by 1.6. Byelorussia had turned into a highly developed industrial and kolkhoz socialist republic.

A cultural revolution was successfully implemented in Byelorussia: illiteracy was essentially liquidated, skilled national cadres of the working class and popular intelligentsia were created, and higher educational institutions, scientific and cultural-educational institutions, national theaters, libraries, and clubs were established. The Byelorussian people consolidated into a socialist nation. The Extraordinary Twelfth Congress of Soviets of Byelorussia adopted a constitution for the republic (Feb. 19, 1937) which reflected the socialist achievements of the Byelorussian people.

The fate of western Byelorussia, which was under the power of bourgeois-landlord Poland, turned out differently. The occupation regime, capitalist exploitation, and national enslavement lasted here for some 20 years. The working people of western Byelorussia suffered from chronic unemployment. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of Western Byelorussia (CPWB) they waged a revolutionary struggle for social and national liberation. In 1925, the Byelorussian Peasant and Worker Gromada (BPWG)—a mass, legal revolutionary democratic and national liberation organization—was established in western Byelorussia under the influence of the CPWB. By January 1927, it united more than 120,000 members in more than 2,000 primary organizations. In 1927 the government of J. Piłsudski smashed the BPWG. However, the struggle of working people continued under the leadership of the CPWB. In September 1939, after the attack on Poland by fascist Germany, the Red Army took the population of the western oblasts of Byelorussia and the Ukraine under its protection. The working people of these oblasts were enabled to freely determine their subsequent fate. On Oct. 28–30,1939, the People’s Assembly of Western Byelorussia unanimously proclaimed Soviet power and requested the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to accept the western oblasts of Byelorussia into the USSR and reunite them with the BSSR. On Nov. 2 and 12, this request was satisfied respectively by the supreme soviets of the USSR and the BSSR.

Great Patriotic War (1941–45) Byelorussia became a vast battleground from the first days of the Great Patriotic War. The large German fascist Central Grouping (more than 50 divisions) was concentrated here. Under the unfavorable circumstances which took shape in the initial period of the war, Soviet forces waged difficult defensive battles in Byelorussia. The German fascist troops were resisted stubbornly. The small garrison of Brest Fortress, which was completely encircled by the superior forces of the enemy, resisted heroically to mid-July. The garrisons of Minsk, Zhlobin, Mogilev, Gomel’, and other Byelorussian cities defended themselves stubbornly. Under powerful pressure by the enemy’s superior forces, Soviet troops were compelled to leave all of Byelorussia in August 1941.

The Party and soviet organs of Byelorussia did enormous work in the evacuation of people and enterprises. On the basis of incomplete data, about 1.5 million people were evacuated to the east. In the regions to the rear, 109 large industrial enterprises were removed (including 40 to the Volga Region, 24 to the Urals, 18 to the middle belt of the RSFSR), more than 5,000 tractors, about 675,000 head of cattle, and other property.

Byelorussia was occupied from June 1941 to July 1944. The German fascists established the so-called new order here—a harsh colonial regime of lawlessness, coercion, pillage, and terror. The population was deprived of elementary civil rights; a state of emergency and a system of hostages were introduced. Absolute power was concentrated in the hands of the general commissar of Byelorussia, W. Kube—one of the people close to Hitler. (On Sept. 22, 1943, he was exterminated by the Minsk underground.) The economic policy of the occupiers had the aim of transforming Byelorussia into a colony of imperialist Germany. The occupiers compelled Soviet citizens to work in the surviving enterprises, which were utilized for military purposes. Lands were distributed to German colonists, former landlords, and their servants. Unlimited taxes, deliveries, requisitions, and obligations were instituted. The planned destruction of the population of Byelorussia proceeded.

The fascists established more than 260 death camps and concentration camps, hundreds of prisons, and ghettos on the territory of Byelorussia. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens were exterminated in these institutions. More than 130,000 people perished in Malyi Trostianets, 56,000 in Bolshoi Trostianets and Shashkovka, 80,000 in Masiukovshchina, 30,000 in Uruch’e, more than 22,000 in Koldychev, 80,000 in Lesnaia, 27,000 near the village of Berezvech’e, more than 50,000 near Bronnaia Gora, about 60,000 in the Bobruisk death camp, and about 33,000 near the villages of Foliush and Kolbasino. In Polotsk, 150,000 people were exterminated; in Gomel’, about 100,000; and in Vitebsk, more than 90,000. More than 60 punitive operations were carried out against the peaceful population of Byelorussia; as a result, along with their population, 692 villages were destroyed (settled points in which more than 50 people perished). In all, 2,225,000 Soviet citizens and prisoners of war were annihilated during the occupation of Byelorussia; about 380,000 people were sent off to Germany for penal servitude.

The bloody regime did not break the will of the Byelorussian people who had temporarily fallen under the occupiers’ yoke. The Byelorussians, along with other fraternal peoples, rose up in selfless all-nation war against the enemy. From the first days of the occupation, partisan detachments, sabotage groups, and underground party, Komsomol, and also patriotic antifascist organizations were established under the leadership of the Communist Party. Partisans and members of the underground destroyed the vital forces of the enemy; blew up bridges, warehouses, military and industrial installations, fascist garrisons, headquarters, and commandants’ offices; and wrecked the military, economic, and political measures of the Hitlerites. People’s avengers, doing battle with the members of the punitive expeditions, took the population under their protection, saving Soviet citizens from annihilation, robbery, and deportation to Germany for penal servitude.

There were 1,108 partisan detachments operating in Byelorussia (1,003 of these were united in 199 brigades). Their ranks included more than 374,000 fighting men; in addition, more than 70,000 people were active in underground organizations. The partisan reserves had more than 400,000 people on military footing in detachments and brigades; they participated in the partisan struggle. Over 45 percent of all the partisans of Byelorussia were 18–25 years of age. Communists and Komsomol members made up more than 33 percent, and women accounted for 16 percent of the partisans. Along with Byelorussians, Russians (19.3 percent), Ukrainians (3.9 percent), Lithuanians, Letts, Estonians, and representatives of other nationalities of the USSR, as well as Poles, Slovaks, Czechs, Bulgarians, Serbs, Hungarians, Frenchmen, and Germans, participated in the partisan movement.

The partisan underground and the antifascist movement, which were closely linked to the partisans, existed in nearly all the cities of Byelorussia. They were particularly strong in Minsk, Vitebsk, Orsha, Brest, Gomel’, Borisov, Zhlobin, and Mogilev. There were large partisan territories and zones in Byelorussia where Soviet organs ruled throughout the period of the occupation. From late 1943, the partisans controlled about 60 percent of the entire territory of Byelorussia. During three years of struggle in the rear of the German fascist invaders, the partisans of Byelorussia destroyed and put out of commission about 500,000 Hitlerites and their accomplices; destroyed 948 German fascist garrisons and headquarters of security forces, 29 railroad stations, 305 planes, and 438 guns; blew up 939 military warehouses; and put 1,355 tanks and armored cars and 18,700 motor vehicles out of action.

The celebrated Railway War of the Byelorussian partisans inflicted great losses on German fascist armed forces. The partisans derailed 11,128 troop trains and 34 armored trains; they blasted 819 railroad bridges and 4,710 road bridges; and they destroyed over 7,300 km of telephone and telegraph communications lines. Aiding the offensive of the Red Army in the summer and fall of 1943, the partisans of Byelorussia carried out two major operations usually called Railway War and Concert. As a result, enemy transport in Byelorussia declined by 40 percent.

The partisans drew the attention of about 10 percent of the armed forces of the German fascist troops operating on the Soviet-German front. Cooperating with units of the Red Army, the partisans helped drive the German fascist aggressors from Byelorussia. They captured and held passages across water boundaries, carried out reconnaissance, served as guides, and participated in landing operations and in assaults on the fortified positions of the enemy. With the aid of Byelorussian partisans, Minsk, Mogilev, Pinsk, Molodechno, Borisov, Slutsk, Klichev, and other cities were liberated. In July 1944, Byelorussia was completely freed by Soviet forces.

For their heroism and valor, more than 120,000 partisans of Byelorussia were awarded orders and medals of the USSR; 87 of these were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. During the war, over 1 million Byelorussians served in the ranks of the Soviet Army. Over 300,000 Byelorussian fighting men were awarded orders and medals, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred on 410 people, and four Byelorussians—P. Ia. Golovachev, I. I. Gusakovskii, S. F. Shutov, and I. I. Iakubovskii—were twice awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. During the postwar years, thousands of monuments were established in Byelorussia, and numerous burial mounds were erected to the glorious memory of the heroic struggle of Soviet fighting men and partisans. The memorial complexes to the victims of fascism include Khatyn’ (a village near Minsk which was completely destroyed, along with its population, by the occupiers).

Postwar period During the three years of the occupation, the fascists turned 209 cities and raion centers into ruins and burned 9,200 villages (1.2 million structures), leaving about 3 million people homeless. The occupiers ruined and destroyed 10,000 industrial enterprises and ransacked 10,200 kolkhozes, 92 sovkhozes, and 316 machine and tractor stations; they shipped off to Germany more than 2 million head of cattle, 5.7 million head of goats and sheep, 1.6 million tons of grain, 0.3 million tons of meal, 3.1 million tons of potatoes and vegetables, 7 million cu m of commercial timber, and 0.5 million cu m of sawtimber; they cut down 104,000 hectares of forest and 33,000 hectares of orchards; the cattle population decreased by 69 percent, horses by 61 percent, and swine by 89 percent. The fascists mercilessly destroyed the national culture of Byelorussia. They destroyed and pillaged all higher educational institutions, scientific research institutes, theaters, museums, and prominent monuments of history, art, and architecture. Seven thousand schools and 2,200 hospital institutions were destroyed. The direct material damage alone to the economy and citizens of Byelorussia during the occupation amounted to 75 billion rubles (in state prices of 1941). Byelorussia was thrown back to the level of 1913 in a number of major branches of industry. In 1944 the volume of industrial production of Byelorussia amounted to only 5 percent of the total production of 1940. Sown area had decreased by 43 percent.

All the fraternal Soviet republics offered Byelorussia much assistance in reestablishing its ruined economy. After the liberation of Byelorussia, about 1.7 billion rubles were set aside from the Union budget. The RSFSR, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and other republics sent more than 50,000 units of different sorts of equipment, tens of thousands of motor vehicles, tractors, seed, cattle, and construction materials. As early an Jan. 1, 1945, about 3,000 enterprises had been raised from ruins and ashes. In September 1946, the eighth session of the Supreme Soviet of the BSSR adopted a law on the reestablishment and development of the economy of Byelorussia. The volume of capital investment was fixed at the sum of 7.5 billion rubles. Along with the reestablishment of old branches of industry, provisions were made for the creation of a number of new branches, especially in the area of machine building (automobiles, tractors, steam-driven tractors, and so on). The volume of industrial production for the five postwar years exceeded the level of 1940 by 15 percent.

By 1950 the agricultural level of 1940 had been reached and, in major branches, exceeded. The cultivated area was increased by 28 percent over the five-year period; the sown area of industrial crops nearly tripled. After the reestablishment of the economy, the process of further development of the economy and culture of Byelorussia in the 1960’s and 1970’s was accelerated. The volume of industrial production in 1969 had grown by a factor of nearly 11 in comparison with 1940, and by 90 in comparison with 1913. By 1969 the volume of the gross output of agriculture had increased by a factor of 2.9 in comparison with 1913.

For Byelorussia’s successful reestablishment of the economy destroyed during wartime and its great achievements in the further development of industry, construction, agriculture, and culture, the BSSR was awarded its second Order of Lenin on Dec. 22, 1958.

In connection with the 20th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War, the Brest Fortress was awarded the honorary title Hero Fortress, with the presentation of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal, by an edict of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on May 8, 1965. In 1966–67 the Soviet government awarded Orders of Lenin to Minsk and all the oblasts of the republic for their participation in the partisan struggle during the Great Patriotic War and their successes in the development of the economy.

On Dec. 27, 1968, the BSSR was awarded the Order of the October Revolution for the services of the working people of Byelorussia to the revolutionary movement, to the Great October Socialist Revolution, and to the creation and strengthening of the first socialist multinational state in the world, the USSR; for the courage and heroism displayed in battles against the enemies of the Soviet homeland; and for achievements in communist construction. The BSSR is one of the founding countries of the United Nations. Representatives of the government of the BSSR participate actively in the work of the UN.


Istoriia Belorusskoi SSR, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Minsk, 1961.
Polikarpovich, K. M. Paleolit Verkhnego Podneprov’ia. Minsk, 1968.
Isaenko, V. F. Arkheologicheskaia karta Belorussii: Kamennyi vek. Minsk, 1968.
Mel’nikovskaia, O. N. Plemena luzhnoi Belorussii ν rannem zheleznom veke. Moscow, 1967.
Turchinovich, O. V. Obozrenie istorii Belorussii s drevneishikh vremen. St. Petersburg, 1857.
Bezkornilovich, M. I. Istoricheskie svedeniia o primechatel’neishikh mestakh ν Belorussii. St. Petersburg, 1855.
Picheta, V. I. Osnovnye momenty istoricheskogo razvitiia Zapadnoi Ukrainy i Zapadnoi Belorussii. Moscow, 1940.
Picheta, V. I. Istoriia sel’skogo khoziaistva i zemlevladeniia ν Belorussii, part 1. Minsk, 1927.
Lochmel’, I. F. Ocherk istorii bor’by belorusskogo naroda protiv pol’skikh panov. Moscow, 1940.
Pokhilevich, D. L. Krest’iane Belorussii i Litvy ν XVI-XVIII vv. L’vov, 1957.
Fridman, M. B. Otmena krepostnogo prava ν Belorussii. Minsk, 1958.
Dovnar-Zapol’skii, M. V. Narodnoe khoziaistvo Belorussii, 1861–1914 gg. Minsk, 1926.
Saladkov, I. I. Sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoe polozhenie Belorussii do Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii (konets XIX-nachalo XX v.). Minsk, 1957.
Luk’ianov, E. P. Krest’ianskoe dvizhenie ν Belorussii nakanune Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii. Minsk, 1958.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia ν Belorussii: Dokumenty i materialy, vols. 1–2. Minsk, 1957.
Bor’ba za Sovetskuiu vlast’ ν Belorussii: Sb. dokumentov i materialov, vol. 1. Minsk, 1968.
Pobeda Sovetskoi vlasti ν Belorussii. Minsk, 1967.
Khatskevich, A. F. Pol’skie internatsionalisty ν bor’be za vlast’ Sovetov ν Belorussii. Minsk, 1967.
Zavaleev, N. E. Rabochii klass Belorussii ν bor’be za sotsializm 1917–1932. Minsk, 1967.
Kravchenko, I. S., and A. I. Zalesskii. Belorusskii narod ν gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny. Minsk, 1959.
Vsenarodnoe partizanskoe dvizhenie ν Belorussii ν gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny (iiun’ 1941–iiut’ 1944): Dokumenty i materialy ν 3 tt., vol. 1 (June 1941–November 1942). Minsk, 1967.
Prestupleniia nemetsko-fashistskikh okkupantov ν Belorussii: 1941–1944. (Documents and materials.) Minsk, 1963.
Masherau, P. M. 50 gadou Belaruskai Savetskii Satsyialistychnai Respubliki i kampartyi Belarusi. Minsk, 1968.


The Communist Party of Byelorussia (CPB) is a constituent part of the CPSU. Its sources were the Marxist workers’ circles that arose in the 1880’s and early 1890’s in Minsk, Vitebsk, Gomel’, and Grodno. Social democratic organizations began to appear in Byelorussia in the middle of the 1890’s. The first congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), which was the founding congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party, was held in Minsk on Mar. 1–3, 1898. With the founding of the newspaper Iskra (1901), Leninist-Iskra groups began appearing in Byelorussian cities. After the Second RSDLP Congress in late 1903 and early 1904, Social Democratic organizations were set up in Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Gomel’, Grodno, Orsha, Gorky, Kopys’, Polotsk, Bobruisk, Borisov, Smorgon’, Pinsk, Rechitsa, Shklov, Mozyr’, and other cities. In January 1904 the Poles’e RSDLP Committee (one of the organizers was M. K. Vladimirov) was set up; the committee directed the work of the Social Democratic groups and organizations of Mogilev and parts of the Minsk, Chernigov, and Poltava provinces. Between January and August 1904 the committee’s underground printing shop published more than 70,000 leaflets and brochures (18 titles). In March 1904 the Northwestern Committee of the RSDLP was founded to direct the organizations of Minsk, Vitebsk, and Vilna provinces and part of Kovno Province. The Party Central Committee maintained continuous ties with Byelorussian Bolsheviks; in 1904 alone the prominent Party figures E. D. Stasova and M. M. Essen visited Minsk and M. M. Litvinov visited Gomel’ and Bobruisk. Lenin conducted a personal correspondence with Vladimirov.

The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in Byelorussia were engaged in a bitter struggle around ideological and organizational questions. It was only as a result of insistent effort by the Bolsheviks that the Poles’e and Northwestern committees decided in favor of the convocation of a Party congress. The Byelorussian delegates to the Third Congress of the RSDLP (1905)—M. K. Vladimirov, D. S. Postolovskii, and G. L. Shklovskii—voted for Lenin’s resolutions. In the Revolution of 1905–07 the Byelorussian Social Democrats were guided by the decisions of the Third Congress of the RSDLP. The Social Democratic organizations set up fighting companies and revolutionary military organizations in several cities for work among the soldiers. In the course of the Revolution of 1905–07, the Byelorussian Party organizations increased considerably and had up to 4,500 members in 1906. They formed the Northwestern RSDLP Union; its members were also the Party organizations of Byelorussia and Lithuania. In May 1906 the union congress adopted the name of Oblast RSDLP Union of Lithuania and Byelorussia. In the years of reaction the Byelorussian Social Democrats suffered great losses but did not discontinue their revolutionary activity. The shipment of clandestine literature from abroad to Russia continued to go through Byelorussia.

At the Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP (1912), the delegate of the northwestern region was M. I. Gurvich. To step up Party work, the Poles’e RSDLP Committee was recreated in April 1912 (V. N. Zalezhskii, M. N. Galitskii, and E. N. Morozov).

During World War I the Byelorussian Bolsheviks propagandized Lenin’s slogans. The Poles’e RSDLP Committee, headed by S. G. Khavkin, was active. In Gomel’, Party work was led by 1.1. Iavorskii and others; in Minsk by V. G. Knorin, K. I. Lander, and L. P. Rezausskii and after April 1916 by M. V. Frunze and others; in Lunintsa by I. E. Liubimov and others; in Nesvizh by I. K. Ksenofontov and others; in Orsha by P. N. Lepeshinskii; and in units of the western front by A. F. Miasnikov.

In the period between the two bourgeois democratic revolutions, the Byelorussian Bolsheviks supported V. I. Lenin in the struggle against the liquidators, recallers, and revisionists. After the February Revolution of 1917, the Gomel’ Bolsheviks were first in Byelorussia, in April 1917, to leave the organization that included the Mensheviks. By autumn 1917 separate Bolshevik organizations were set up everywhere in Byelorussia. The newspaper Zviazda, the organ of the Minsk RSDLP (Bolshevik) committee, played a great role in the political education of the masses.

With a view to preparing the working people of Byelorussia and the soldiers of the western front for the armed struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution, the first RSDLP (Bolshevik) conference for the Northwest Region was held in Minsk in September 1917. The conference was attended by 88 delegates representing 7,132 Party members and 2,058 sympathizers. The conference was an important step toward the formation of the Byelorussian Communist Party. It elected as Party center the Northwest Region RSDLP (Bolshevik) Committee (chairman, A. F. Miasnikov; secretary, V. S. Seleznev). The jurisdiction of the Region Committee extended to Minsk, Mogilev, and Vitebsk Provinces and part of Vilna Province and to the whole western front. At the Extraordinary Second Conference of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) for the Northwest Region (Oct. 5–7, 1917), 453 delegates represented 28,591 Party members and 27,856 sympathizers. The conference concerned itself with a direct preparation for the socialist revolution and the assumption of power by the Soviets. The Byelorussian Bolsheviks were a major factor in winning the soldiers of the western front for the socialist revolution.

The delegates to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd included 20 Byelorussian Bolsheviks. On Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917, the Soviets seized power in Minsk. However, in February 1918, German troops occupied almost all of Byelorussia. After the German invaders were driven out of Byelorussia, the Sixth Northwest Region Conference of the RCP (Bolshevik), which was held in Smolensk on Dec. 30–31, 1918, recorded in a resolution that it “considers it necessary to proclaim an independent Byelorussian Socialist Republic” (Ocherki istorii KP Belorussii, part 1, Minsk, 1961, p. 348). The conference proclaimed itself the first congress of the Communist Party of Byelorussia (Bolshevik) and formally founded the CPB (Bolshevik) as a component part of the RCP (Bolshevik). The conference was attended by 206 delegates from Party organizations in Minsk, Mogilev, Vitebsk, and Smolensk provinces and parts of Vilna and Chernigov provinces. The first PB (Bolshevik) congress elected the Party’s Central Bureau, which included A. F. Miasnikov, V. G. Knorin, I. Ia. Alibegov, M. I. Kalmanovich, la. F. Perno, V. S. Seleznev, and D. F. Zhilunovich.

In February 1919, under the threat of Polish occupation, the Byelorussian and the Lithuanian CP (Bolshevik) united into one Party organization, the CP of Lithuania and Byelorussia (Bolshevik). The organs of the Central Committee (CC) of the CP of Lithuania and Byelorussia (Bolshevik) became the newspapers Zvezda (Star) in Russian, Mlot (Hammer) in Polish, Kommunistas (Communist) in Lithuanian, and Stern (Star) in Yiddish. After the end of the Civil War and foreign intervention, the CC of the CP of Lithuania and Byelorussia (Bolshevik) was abolished in view of the establishment of bourgeois rule in Lithuania. The Third Congress of the CPB (Bolshevik) was held in Minsk on Nov. 22–25, 1920; it was attended by 68 delegates from 1,700 Party members. The CPB (Bolshevik) Central Bureau was elected, which included V. G. Knorin, A. G. Cherviakov, A. S. Slavinskii, and I. A. Adamovich. The CPB (Bolshevik) mobilized the Byelorussian people for the restoration of the war-ravaged national economy.

The Ninth Congress of CPB (Bolshevik) (December 1925) summed up the results of the restoration of the republic’s industry and agriculture. Throughout the period of building socialism, the CPB (Bolshevik) organized the Byelorussian people for the struggle to implement the plans of socialist industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture and the tasks of the cultural revolution.

The Byelorussian Communists unflinchingly implemented the Leninist general line of the ACP (Bolshevik) and waged a consistent struggle against all deviations from Leninism: the “left-wing” communists, the workers’ opposition, the Democratic Centralism Group, local nationalists, Trotskyites, and right-wing deviationists. Profound socialist transformations took place in the republic under the leadership of the CPB (Bolshevik). In the prewar years great work was done in Byelorussia by V. G. Knorin, A. G. Cherniakov, V. A. Bogutskii, A. I. Krinitskii, N. M. Goloded, A. S. Slavinskii, Ia. B. Gamarnik, I. A. Vasilevich, N. F. Gikalo, P. K. Ponomarenko, and others.

From the early days of the Great Patriotic War the CPB (Bolshevik) organized and inspired the struggle of the Byelorussian people against the fascist German invaders. The Party set up a Party and Komsomol underground in the republic and organized a national partisan war behind the enemy’s lines. The partisan detachments and the underground in enemy-occupied Byelorussia had more than 35,000 Communists in their ranks. Ten oblast committees, 185 interraion and raion committees of the CPB (Bolshevik), and 1,316 primary Party organizations operated behind enemy lines. The CPB (Bolshevik) Central Committee had representatives and liaison men in all the oblasts of Byelorussia and regularly sent Soviet literature behind enemy lines. Between May and August 1943 alone, it sent more than 927,000 copies of newspapers, 2,329,000 leaflets, and more than 664,000 books, magazines, and brochures; 162 underground newspapers were published behind enemy lines, including Zviazda, the central organ of the CC and of the Minsk Party oblast committee (more than 100 issues).

The Fifth Plenary Session of the CC CPB (Bolshevik) (Moscow, Feb. 26–28, 1943), attended by leaders of the partisan movement and the Party underground, played an important role in the development of the all-people’s partisan movement. The Byelorussian Communist Party organizations rallied the Byelorussian people around the Party, strengthened faith in victory over the enemy, and aroused and inspired the people for the struggle against the fascist oppressors. Its heroic struggle made an important contribution to the victory of the Soviet Union over fascist Germany.

After the liberation of Byelorussia (July 1944), the republic Communist Party, with the help of the CC ACP (Bolshevik) and the Soviet government, began working on restoring the republic’s national economy and helping the Soviet Army. In October 1946 the CPB (Bolshevik) had 80,403 members, of whom more than 72 percent had joined the party during the Great Patriotic War or soon after its conclusion. The Jan. 25, 1947, resolution of the CC ACP (Bolshevik) “On the Work of the CC CPB (Bolshevik)” set the tasks of the speediest restoration and further development of the republic’s national economy before the Byelorussian Party. These tasks were successfully fulfilled.

In fulfillment of the decisions of the Twentieth through Twenty-third Congresses of the CPSU, the Byelorussian Party increased the role of the Party organizations in state, economic, and cultural accomplishments, eliminated the distortions

Table 3. Dynamics of membership of the CP of Byelorussia
 CPSU membersCPSU candidate membersTotal number of Communists
1918, December17,800None17,800
1920, November1,700No records1,700
1921, March3,000No records3,000
1923, March3,900No records3,900
1926, January9,4587,26516,723
1929, February29,33011,87741,207
1932, January37,94421,23159,175
1937, June34,80612,19447,000
1940, May36,38823,46559,853
1946, October61,32119,08280,403
1949, January90,97619,134110,110
1960, February183,85519,592203,447
1966, March320,62222,421343,043
1968, April362,42121,476383,897
1970, January395,67720,325416,002
First Congress  Dec. 30–31, 1918
Second Congress  Mar. 4–6, 1919
Third Congress  Nov. 22–25, 1920
Fourth Congress  Feb. 25–Mar. 2, 1921
Fifth Congress  Oct. 15–20, 1921
Sixth Congress  Mar. 15–19, 1922
Seventh Congress  Mar. 20–26, 1923
Eighth Congress  May 12–14, 1924
Ninth Congress  Dec. 8–12, 1925
Tenth Congress  Jan. 3–10, 1927
11th Congress  Nov. 22–29, 1927
12th Congress  Feb. 5–16, 1929
13th Congress  May 30–June 12, 1930
14th Congress  Jan. 23–28, 1932
15th Congress  Jan. 16–22, 1934
16th Congress  June 10–19, 1937
17th Congress  June 10–18, 1938
18th Congress  May 15–20, 1940
19th Congress  Feb. 15–18, 1949
20th Congress  Sept. 20–23, 1952
21st Congress  Feb. 10–13, 1954
22nd Congress  Jan. 24–27, 1956
23rd Congress  Jan. 14–15, 1959
24th Congress  Feb. 17–19, 1960
25th Congress  Sept. 26–28, 1961
26th Congress  Mar. 3–5, 1966

of the Leninist norms of Party life that had been committed in the past, and strengthened revolutionary legality. The Communists and all the working people of Byelorussia actively fought for the successful implementation of the Communist Party Program which was adopted at the Twenty-second Congress of the CPSU. The CPB greatly improved its work after the October (1964) plenary session of the CC CPSU and the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU, which helped the former to free itself of subjectivist and voluntaristic errors that had taken place in the past. The Twenty-sixth Congress of the CPB, which was held in March 1966, approved the draft directives of the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU on the five-year plan for the development of the USSR national economy for 1966–70, and appealed to the Communists and all the working people of the republic to participate in the socialist competition for the successful fulfillment of the tasks of economic and cultural accomplishments. Guided by the decisions of the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU, the Byelorussian Communists directed the efforts of the republic’s working people toward attaining new successes in the building of the Communist society in the USSR.


KP(b) Belarusi u rezaliutsyiakh, part 1 (1903–1921). Minsk, 1934.
Dokumenty i materialy po istorii Belorussii (1900–1917), vol. 3. Minsk, 1953.
Khronika vazhneishikh sobytii istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Belorussii, part 1 (1883–1918). Minsk, 1962.
Ocherki istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Belorussii, part 1 (1883–1920); 2nd ed., part 2 (1921–1966). Minsk, 1967–68.
Mil’chyna, F. I., and M. A. Kavalenka. Historyia komunistychnai partyi Belarusi: Pokazal’nik litaratury. Minsk, 1968.


The Byelorussian Komsomol is a component part of the All-Union Komsomol. The first revolutionary youth organizations arose in 1917 as part of RSDLP (Bolshevik) committees in Minsk, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Orsha. They were organized in a bitter struggle against Bund and Menshevik youth organizations. After the first Russian Komsomol congress and the congress of the Komsomol of the Western Commune (Smolensk, Dec. 25–27, 1918), which was attended by delegates from Minsk, Vitebsk, and Mogilev provinces, Komsomol organizations were founded in Vitebsk, Mogilev, Minsk, Orsha, Polotsk, Gorodok, Bobruisk, Mozyr’, Shklov, Bykhov, Rogachev, Slutsk, Igumen, and other cities in December 1918 and the first months of 1919. During the Civil War and the foreign intervention the majority of Komsomol members enlisted in the army or in partisan units. Underground Komsomol organizations operated in some German-occupied cities and raions. Many Komsomol members died in the struggle against the invaders. After the invaders were driven out, great work began toward reviving and creating new Komsomol organizations. The First All-Byelorussian Komsomol Congress was held in Minsk on Sept. 24–27, 1920 (104 delegates from 20 city and district organizations representing 3,000 Komsomol members); 50 percent of the delegates to the congress were young workers; 15 percent, peasants; and the rest, Red Army men and employees. More than half of the delegates were members or candidate members of the RCP (Bolshevik). The congress set forth the current tasks of the Byelorussian Komsomol and elected a central committee and delegates to the Third All-Russian Komsomol Congress. The newspaper Chyrvonaia zmena (Red Youth) began publication in Minsk on Apr. 21, 1921.

In the period of socialist construction the Byelorussian Komsomol, under the leadership of the Party, actively participated in the restoration of the national economy, in the industrialization and collectivization of the republic’s agriculture, and in implementing the cultural revolution; conducted political, educational, and enlightenment work among the youth; and devoted much attention to military, patriotic, and physical education of youth. Byelorussian Komsomol members actively participated in the construction of the Stalingrad Tractor Plant, the Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the mines of the Donets basin.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the Byelorussian Komsomol was a loyal aid and fighting reserve of the Party in mobilizing the people for the struggle against the German fascist invaders. On the eve of the war, the Byelorussian Komsomol had more that 263,000 members. In 1941 more than 100,000 Byelorussian Komsomol members were sent to the active army by way of general and party mobilizations. More than 95,000 patriot Komsomol members took part in the Byelorussian underground and partisan movement, forming 5,500 primary organizations. Ten oblast committees and 210 interraion, city, and raion committees of the Byelorussian Komsomol operated behind enemy lines. The newspaper Chyrvonaia zmena, the organ of the central committee and of the Minsk oblast committee of the Byelorussian Komsomol, reappeared in January 1943. An important role in creating a wide network of underground committees and organizations of the Byelorussian Komsomol and making them function smoothly was played by M. V. Zimianin, K. T. Mazurov, S. O. Pritytskii and F. A. Surganov, secretaries of the Byelorussian Komsomol central committee, and by other leaders of the Byelorussian Komsomol. In September 1945, on the 25th anniversary of its existence, the Byelorussian Komsomol was awarded the Order of the Red Star for courage, selflessness, and heroism in the struggle against the German fascist invaders. Orders and medals were awarded to 35,000 Komsomol members and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union to 29 members.

In 1944 the Byelorussian Komsomol was mobilized for the restoration of the war-ravaged economy; 8,000 Komsomol members worked on the restoration of Minsk, 5,000 built the Minsk Automobile and Tractor Plants, and 40,000 participated in housing construction in the countryside. Upon the call of the Komsomol, 30,000 young men and women went to construction projects and into industry in 1946. In the following years the Byelorussian Komsomol actively participated in the development of the socialist economy and socialized cattle raising and exercised sponsorship of the construction of major plants, factories, electric power plants, and major chemistry enterprises. During 1953–69 more than 100,000 Komsomol members and other young people of Byelorussia, following the appeal of the Komsomol, went to new construction projects in Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Far North, and the Far East.

Members of the Byelorussian Komsomol are constantly replenishing the ranks of the Party: in the years 1949–69, 129,974 Komsomol members were admitted to the CPSU, which amounted to 42.2 percent of the total number of new Party members in these years. On Jan. 1, 1970, there were 916,230 young men and women in the ranks of the Byelorussian Komsomol, grouped in 15,400 primary Komsomol organizations. The Byelorussian Komsomol is a loyal aid of the CPB in creating the material and technical base of communism and in the communist upbringing of the young generation. In September 1970 the Order of Lenin was awarded to the Byelorussian Komsomol in honor of its 50th anniversary.


Komsomol—nashei dobleistnoi partii syn: Iz istorii Leninskovo Kommunisticheskovo Soiuza molodezhi Belorussii. Minsk, 1960.
Zhurov, A. E. V boiakh rozhdennyi: Kratkii Ocherk istorii Komsomola Belorussii. Minsk, 1967.
Anisau, S. G. Z gistoryi kamsamol’skaga padpollia Zakhodniai Belarusi. Minsk, 1958.
Table 4. Dates of congresses and membership of Byelorussian Komsomol
Number of congressKomsomol membership at date of congressDate of congress
First Congress3,000Sept. 24–27, 1920
Second Congress2,420 (for Mar.)Apr. 20–24, 1921
Third Congressabout 2,350 (for June)Sept. 13–18, 1921
Fourth Congressabout 3,000May 26–29, 1922
Fifth Congressmore than 3,000Oct. 4–8, 1922
Sixth Congress4,500 (for Dec.)May 5–10, 1923
Seventh Congress15,685June 9–14, 1924
Eighth Congress42,000Feb. 5–10, 1926
Ninth Congressmore than 60,000Apr. 22–28, 1928
Tenth Congress100,000Jan. 5–13, 1931
11th Congress58,275Mar. 10–17, 1936
12th Congress85,000Oct. 17–24, 1937
13th Congress200,464Feb. 7–12, 1939
14th Congress263,749Oct. 5–10, 1940
15th Congress217,000Mar. 5–8, 1947
16th Congress316,851Feb. 10–12, 1949
17th Congress511,090Jan. 30–Feb. 1,1952
18th Congress671,586Mar. 5–8, 1954
19th Congress658,525Jan. 10–12, 1956
20th Congress614,002Feb. 11–12, 1958
21st Congress613,896Dec. 17–18, 1959
22nd Congress628,233Jan. 17–18, 1962
23rd Congress812,000Feb. 17–18, 1966
24th Congress916,230 (for Jan.)Feb. 26–27, 1970
Shevela, G. “Boevaia molodost’ (Iz istorii bor’by belorusskikh komsomol’tsev ν tylu nemetsko-fashistskikh okkupantov).” In Sovetskie partizany (lz istorii partizanskovo dvizheniia ν gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny), 2nd ed. Moscow, 1963.
Kovsharov, N. D. Komsomol ν vosstanovlenii promyshlennosti BSSR (1946–1950 gg.). Minsk, 1961.
Petrashkevich, A. L. Komsomol Belorussii ν semiletke. Minsk, 1962.


The trade unions of Byelorussia constitute a component part of the trade unions of the USSR. They began to be established during the years of the Revolution of 1905–07. The mass organization of trade unions in Byelorussia began after the February Revolution of 1917. With the victory of the October Revolution the trade unions actively participated in forming the Soviet economic administrative organs, in organizing production, and in creating a new system for distributing consumer goods. During the years of the Civil War they mobilized people in nonoccupied regions to resist the invaders, and they requisitioned for the front surpluses of grain, livestock, and fodder from the kulaks; thus they assured the Red Army of everything it needed.

In July 1920 the Central Bureau of Trade Unions was established; it was soon reorganized as the Soviet of Trade Unions. In May 1921 the First Congress of Trade Unions of Byelorussia was held. By this time there were 76,000 trade-union members in the republic. By 1928, Byelorussian trade unions included approximately 237,000 workers. During the period of the prewar five-year plans the Byelorussian trade unions under the direction of the Party organizations took an active part in the building of socialism. They were the initiators and organizers of the struggle for a system of cost saving, and they carried on a campaign among the workers to mobilize their monetary savings to build factories and plants. The trade unions managed the daily administration of socialist competition as well as the movements of the shock workers and Stakhanovites, and they disseminated information on the experience of advanced workers. The trade unions also carried out a great deal of political educational work among the working class, and they implemented measures on a broad scale to set up social insurance. In 1938 the trade unions encompassed more than 500,000 members. In 1940 the budget of the state social insurance amounted to more than 100 million rubles.

During the postwar years the trade unions of Byelorussia actively participated in restoring the republic’s ruined economy, in addition to further developing its national economy and culture. They participate in improving production administration; they carry on the struggle to fulfill production plans, to increase labor productivity, and to improve working conditions and the daily life of manual and office workers; and they implement the functions of state and public control of labor protection, safety techniques, and observance of labor legislation. As of January 1970, Byelorussia had trade union associations in 24 branches of industry, of which 20 Byelorussian republic committees of the trade unions encompassed more than 3.2 million members. At their disposal were 620 Houses and Palaces of Culture, clubs, more than 10,000 Red Corners, 950 libraries, more than 18,000 circles and amateur artistic groups (65 of these have been awarded the title “People’s”), over 150 universities of culture, tourist bases, and 136 raion and city tourist clubs. The budget for state social insurance has grown to 181 million rubles.


General characteristics In the general territorial division of labor in the Soviet Union the specialization and role of Byelorussia are determined by its well-developed branches of industry, primarily by the highly specialized intensive machine-building, chemical and petrochemical, petroleum, radio technology, electronics, woodworking, glass, and food industries, as well as light industry. Agriculture specializes in dairy farming and cattle breeding, hog raising, poultry farming, and flax and potato growing. Heavy industry, light industry, and the food industry are found side by side with a well-developed agriculture.

Byelorussia holds first place in the USSR in production of heavy-duty trucks and ensilage harvesters; second place in the production of peat, motorcycles, ball bearings, wrist-watches, potassium fertilizers, polyethylene, plywood and veneer, flax fibers, and linen fabrics; and third place in the production of metal-cutting lathes, tractors, bicycles, television sets, window glass, knitted clothing and underwear, confectionery, animal oils, and other goods. Byelorussia is second among Union republics in area devoted to raising flax and winter rye and third in area used for growing potatoes and hemp, producing milk, and raising hogs.

In 1969 industry accounted for 58 percent of the gross national product and 46 percent of the national income, and agriculture accounted for 24 percent and 31 percent respectively. The gross industrial product in 1969 grew in comparison with 1940 by almost 11 times, and in comparison with 1913, by 90 times; the corresponding growth for agriculture was 1.7 and 2.9. Byelorussian products are shipped to various parts of the USSR as well as to more than 80 foreign countries.

Industry The gross industrial product in a recent ten-year period (1960–69) grew by 2.9 times, including the production of means of production (group A), which grew by 3.4 times, and the production of consumer goods (group B), which grew by 2.4 times. The basic branches of industry are machine building and metalworking, chemical and petrochemical industries, forestry, woodworking, peat production, building-materials industry, light industry, and food industries. The rates of growth in output in particular branches of industry are shown in Table 5.

Table 5. Rates of growth in industrial output (1940–69)
Electric power11.59.739
Machine building and metalworking12.42284
Chemical and petrochemical12.122154
Lumber, woodworking, and paper and cellulose11.01.82.9
Building materials11.36.919
Glass, enamel, and pottery11.55.614
Light industry10.72.75.4
Food industry10.92.45.0

Industry is more highly developed in the eastern parts of Byelorussia, which set out on the road of socialist transformation earlier. However, industry is developing at stepped-up rates in the western regions by comparison with the republic as a whole. In the postwar years a number of industrial plants were constructed anew in western Byelorussia: a cotton combine; factories for machine tool accessories, motor vehicle assembly units (in Baranovichi), spare parts for motor vehicles, and commercial machines; a nitrogen-mineral fertilizer complex; a cotton-spinning factory (in Grodno); electrical-engineering, agricultural-machinery, and paint and lacquer plants (in Lida); factories for the manufacture of electric lightbulbs and natural gas equipment (in Brest); and a knitted-wear combine (in Pinsk).

Under Soviet power new branches of industry have developed, including chemical, petroleum refining, electronics and radio engineering, precision instruments, and petroleum-drilling industries (see Table 6). Hundreds of industrial plants and entire industrial complexes have been built to utilize local natural resources—for example, in Minsk, Novopolotsk, Soligorsk, Bobruisk, and Mogilev.

The main sources of energy in Byelorussia are peat, natural gas, coal, liquid fuels (Novopolotsk Petroleum Refinery), and hydroelectric power. Peat is one of the major local power sources, and Byelorussia has peat reserves second only to the RSFSR (5 billion tons, computed in terms of air-dry product). Peat accounts for more than 20 percent of the fuel used in the republic and 13 percent of its power reserves. In 1969 peat production for use as fuel, which was 3.1 times peat production in 1940, represented 22 percent of the all-Union production. Natural gas is carried by the Dashava-Minsk and Shchors-Gomel’ pipelines. Coal is imported from the Donets Basin and from the L’vov-Volyn’ Basin in the Ukrainian SSR.

In the postwar years qualitative changes have taken place in the fuel balance of Byelorussia: petroleum and natural gas have taken an important place. Natural gas takes up 20 percent of the entire republic’s fuel consumption and 70–80 percent of the consumption in Minsk, Gomel’, and other industrial centers. The power industry has been strengthened and developed significantly. The main sources of electric power in 1969 were three state regional power plants—the Berezov’, 920,000 kW; the Vasil’evichi, 322,000 kW; and the Smolevichi, 987,000 kW—and the Minsk Thermal Electric Power Plant, 400,000 kW. In 1969 the first phase of the largest power plant in the republic was commissioned. That was the Lukoml’skaia State Regional Electric Power Plant with a projected capacity of 2.4 million kW. Major electric power plants are being built in Bobruisk, Grodno, and elsewhere. Electrical energy output in 1969 exceeded the level of that in 1940 by 25 times. In 1965 the Byelorussian electric power grid was completed, uniting the Byelorussian system with the power grids in the Northwest USSR and the Central Zone and, by way of the power grid of the Polish People’s Republic, with the international Peace Power Grid.

More than one-quarter of the value of all output produced by industry in Byelorussia is accounted for by machine building and metalworking. Gross output for machine building and metalworking increased in volume in 1969 by 84 times over 1940. Motor vehicle and tractor production held the leading place. The basic products were heavy-duty trucks, superheavy dump trucks (Minsk, Zhodino, and Mogilev), multipurpose tractors (Minsk), and various kinds of machine tools (Minsk, Vitebsk, Gomel’, Orsha, and Molodechno). Agricultural machinery is manufactured at Gomel’, Lida, and Bobruisk, and instruments and radioelectronics components at Minsk, Gomel’, and Vitebsk. Equipment for the peat industry is designed and built at Gomel’, and riverboats at Gomel’, Vitebsk, and Bobruisk. Cameras, motors, refrigerators, and other products are also manufactured.

The chemical industry is rapidly growing, with specialization in the production of mineral fertilizers, synthetic fibers, and so on. In the period 1960–69 the gross output of the chemical and petrochemical industries of Byelorussia increased seven times. On the basis of the potassium deposit at Starobin the largest works for the production of potassium fertilizers has been built at Soligorsk. In 1969, Byelorussia provided nearly half of the country’s potassium fertilizer. In 1963 a nitrate mineral fertilizer plant at Grodno went into operation. There is a chemical works at Gomel’; synthetic fiber production is under way at Svetlogorsk and Mogilev and being developed at Novopolotsk. In 1969 the production of synthetic fibers was 21 times that of 1940. A chemical industry complex is being built on the basis of petroleum refining in the Novopolotsk region. In 1970 a major petroleum refinery was being built at Mozyr’ and a tire works at Bobruisk. In the postwar years the manufacture of industrial rubber goods has developed in Bobruisk, Borisov, and Krichev.

The gross output of the building-materials industry in 1969 exceeded the volume in 1940 by 19 times. Output of prefabricated large-panel concrete and reinforced concrete elements and parts amounted to 2,570,000 cu m in 1969. Plants producing prefabricated housing parts have been built and are in operation. The production of new types of products is under way—for example, keramzit, agloporit, semirigid slag-wool slabs, and foamed plastic. Cement (at Krichev and Volkovysk), bricks, lime, large silicate blocks, and drainage pipes are produced from local raw materials.

Table 6. Production of the most important types of industrial goods
Electric power, in millions of kW-hrs350874912,934
Petroleum, in thousands of tons2,760
Peat used for fuel, in millions of tons0.
Peat briquettes and semibriquettes, in millions of tons0.021.8
Metal-cutting lathes, in thousands of units6.04.826.4
Trucks, in thousands of units2.429.4
Tractors, in thousands of physical units0.0479.5
Electric motors, in thousands of kW11.853.31,384
Mineral fertilizers (in standard units), by thousands of tons13.24,791
Synthetic fibers, in thousands of tons2.62.254.8
Radio sets and long-playing phonographs, in thousands of units0.446.3510.4
Television sets, in thousands of units544.0
Bicycles, in thousands of units70.0506.9
Cement, in thousands of tons332003421,918.0
Commercial lumber, in millions of cu m2.
Paper, in thousands of tons21.351.339.999.7
Leather footwear, in millions of pairs9.87.535.6
Linen fabrics, in millions of linear m0.0115.819.159.2
Wool fabrics, in millions of linear m0.040.31.424.1
Cotton fabrics, in millions of linear m1.29.11.669.7
Knitted clothing, in millions of units1.21.324.0
Motorcycles, in thousands of units144.7
Refrigerators, in thousands of units150.8
Clocks and watches, in millions of units2.3
Meat, in thousands of tons60.339.4358.5
Canned goods, in millions of standard-unit containers0.510.625.8375.9
Granulated sugar, in thousands of tons166.8

Byelorussia has long been famous for its highly developed glass industry (Kostiukovka near Gomel’, Borisov, Grodno Oblast, and others) which produces such items as high-quality glass, window glass, glass containers, glass pipe, and laboratory vessels. Byelorussia accounts for 18 percent of all top-grade glass produced in the USSR.

Byelorussia’s relatively large timber reserves and favorable geographical situation and transportation facilities have spurred the growth of the lumbering and woodworking industries. They have developed from cottage industry into a major mechanized branch of industrial production. In 1969 the production of saw timber had grown by 3.8 times in comparison with 1913 and by almost 1.8 times in comparison with 1940, paper production had increased by 4.7 and 1.9 times respectively, and cardboard production by 10 and 5.4 times. Sawmills were concentrated near lumbering centers in Borisov, Bobruisk, Rechitsa, Mozyr’, and Vitebsk. Branches of the woodworking industry and paper industry produce furniture, veneer and plywood, matches, paper, and other wood products (Pinsk, Bobruisk, Mosty, Borisov, Gomel’, Rechitsa, Dobrush, and Slonim).

In light industry the most developed sectors are the textile industry (60 percent of the total value of output in light industry), and the sewing, footwear, and knitted-wear industries, which rely both on local raw materials, such as flax, and on such imported materials as wool, cotton, and silk. A variety of synthetic fabrics are also produced, along with knitted clothing and underwear, carpets, needlework, and other products. There are more than 40 factories for primary flax processing. In 1969 production of wool fabric exceeded that of 1940 by 89 times; cotton fabric, by 7.6 times; linen fabric, by 3.8 times; and knitted clothing and underwear, by 3.7 times. The largest enterprises in light industry were the cotton fabric works in Baranovichi, the cotton gin in Grodno, the factory complexes for fine woolen fabrics in Minsk and Grodno, and the knitted-wear factories in Vitebsk, Gomel’, and Pinsk. Leather and footwear factories using local raw materials are operating in Minsk, Mogilev, Grodno, Lida, and elsewhere.

The most important branch of the food industry is the dairy and meat-processing industry, accounting for more than 40 percent of the gross volume of output in the food industry. It is represented by 21 meat-packing plants at Minsk, Orsha, Vitebsk, Baranovichi, Gomel’, Grodno, Mogilev, Bobruisk, and elsewhere; milk plants at Minsk, Vitebsk, and other cities; plants for canning milk at Rogachev, Lepel’, and Lida; and butter-and-cheese plants, located throughout the territory. One of the oldest industries in Byelorussia, the flour and groats industry, has developed in Minsk, Gomel’, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and other cities. The confection industry has grown into a major branch, particularly in Minsk and Gomel’. In the postwar years, the sugar industry was established (Gorodeia, Skidel’, Slutsk, and Zhabinka). Other branches of the food industry found in Byelorussia include vodka distilling, starch and molasses production, makhorka tobacco production, wine-making, canning, and brewing.

Agriculture A major mechanized agriculture has been built up in Byelorussia under Soviet power. In 1969 gross agricultural production came to 4.3 billion rubles. Sown acreage has significantly increased. Area used for agricultural purposes in 1969 was 9.9 million hectares (ha). Of this, plowed lands

Table 7. Pattern of crop cultivation (for all types of farms, in hectares)
Total area4,542,1005,212,0004,913,1006,123,600
Cereal crops3,629,7003,475,5003,391,6002,718,000
Winter rye1,968,4001,567,6001,528,5001,011,600
Spring barley356,700377,100348,100631,500
Industrial crops128,500312,800302,700317,200
Sugar beets4,60049,300
Fodder crops159,100432,900302,1002,067,800
Vegetables and melons41,50061,80042,10045,700
Table 8. Gross yield of agricultural crops (for all categories of farms, in tons)
Cereal grains2,567,7002,726,9002,683,6004,328,500
Winter rye1,338,6001,360,0001,397,9001,204,500
Flax fiber32,80036,50042,200116,300
Sugar beets69,400905,000
Ensilage crops (excluding maize)86,80077,8003,537,500
Maize for ensilage and green fodder1,246,300
Fodder root crops (including sugar beets for fodder purposes)134,400171,3002,111,900
Hay and green fodder2,953,6002,634,9005,940,800

accounted for 6.2 million ha, hay fields 1.9 million, and meadows and pasture 1.6 million. More than 1.3 million ha of drained and reclaimed swamp and marshland are used for agricultural purposes. The Byelorussian Ridge area and the plains adjacent to it are the best adapted for agriculture. The proportion of land in use in this area is 60–80 percent; in the Pripiat’ Poles’e marsh region it is 20–40 percent. (For the pattern of crop cultivation see Table 7.)

At the beginning of 1970 there were 2,349 kolkhozes in Byelorussia and 738 sovkhozes of all kinds. There were 139,100 tractors (in terms of standard 15–horsepower units), 21,500 harvesting combines, and 52,600 trucks. All kolkhozes and sovkhozes used electricity.

Crops accounted for 49 percent of the total value of gross agricultural output. Cereal crops (44.4 percent of all land under cultivation) are raised in all regions of Byelorussia, with an average yield of 9.2 quintals per ha in the period 1960–68. In 1969 the average yield for cereal grains was 15.9 quintals per ha. Among the industrial crops (5.1 percent of all land under cultivation), flax was the most widely grown, primarily in the northern and northeastern regions, and sugar beets were grown mainly in the central and western areas. Potatoes occupy 15.9 percent of the cultivated area and are found throughout the territory, and fodder crops, such as annual and perennial grasses, maize, and fodder root crops, cover 33.8 percent. Before the October Revolution horticulture was poorly developed in Byelorussia. Now it is a significant source of raw materials for the republic’s food industry. The total area devoted to fruit and berry crops reached 157,300 ha in 1969, compared to 20,000 ha in 1913. Gross yield of fruits and berries in 1968 had tripled in comparison with 1940. Horticulture has developed most in the eastern parts of Gomel’ Oblast and the southern parts of Minsk Oblast. (The gross yield for agricultural crops is shown in Table 8.)

Livestock raising is the leading branch of agriculture in Byelorussia. Under Soviet power the herd size has risen by 2.2 times in comparison with the prerevolutionary period. Byelorussia is among the leaders in the USSR for density of cattle population (see Table 9).

Table 9. Livestock (as of January 1)
Sheep and goats2,050,0002,578,0001,409,000670,000

In 1968 there were 49 head of cattle, including 25.5 cows, per 100 ha of agricultural land, and 52 hogs per 100 ha of plowed land. Poultry on farms of all categories numbered 22.5 million on Jan. 1,1969. (The output of livestock products is shown in Table 10.)

Table 10. Output of basic livestock products
Milk, in tons1,400,0002,000,0001,600,0005,200,000
Meat (liveweight), in tons219,000275,000222,000690,000
Eggs, in millions4136125681,497
Wool, in tons2,7003,3002,0001,200

Beekeeping and raising fur-bearing animals (black and brown fox, mink, and coypu) are also developed.

As a result of the socialist reconstruction of agriculture, the size of its marketable surpluses has grown. (The pattern of state purchases of agricultural products is shown in Table 11.)

Table 11. State purchases of agricultural products
(for all categories of farms, in tons)
Cereal crops436,000487,000567,100
Sugar beets36,600835,000
Flax fiber21,60023,000103,000
Livestock and poultry (liveweight)140,90067,300666,500
Milk and dairy products230,600273,7002,429,400
Eggs, in millions11238.9410.9

Transportation Most shipping in Byelorussia is done by rail or truck. In 1969 there were 5,400 km of general-purpose railroad track (3,800 km in 1913). Byelorussia holds sixth place in the USSR for density of rail network (26.1 km per 1,000 sq km). Freight turnover on railroads came to 46.8 billion ton-km in 1969. The Moscow-Minsk-Brest line was the main railroad track. The Bakhmach-Gomel’-Minsk-Molodechno-Vilnius line, the Leningrad-Vitebsk-Mobilev-Kiev line, the Vilnius-Baranovichi-Rovno line, and the Gomel’-Brest line also played an important role. Simultaneously with the construction of new railroad lines, older ones are being modernized. More than 30 percent of the lines have been adapted for diesel-electric traction. That part of the line used for suburban passenger commuting between Minsk and Molodechno has been electrified, and a new electrified line from Minsk to Pukhovichi has been built.

In 1969 there were 65,100 km of highway, including 24,800 km of hard-surface road. Freight turnover for auto transport in general use came to 3,043,000,000 ton-km in 1969, and passenger service covered 7,581,000,000 passenger-km. The Moscow-Minsk-Brest highway is the main road. In 1969 the total distance covered by bus lines was 169,000 km (over 30 times that in 1940).

At the end of 1969 there was a total of 3,900 km of navigable waterways. Freight turnover for river transport in 1969 exceeded the 1940 level by 4.5 times. There are air connections with many of the major cities of the USSR and with certain regional centers. The pipeline is the newest form of shipping to be used in Byelorussia. By the beginning of 1970 there were 2,000 km of trunk pipelines.

Standard of living During the years of Soviet power the life of the Byelorussian people has changed fundamentally. The standard of living of the population has risen and the living conditions of both urban and rural workers have improved. The national income of Byelorussia had doubled in 1969 in comparison with 1960. Payments and benefits received by the population from public consumption funds came to more than 1.9 billion rubles in 1969 (over 200 rubles per person), which was 8 percent more than in 1968. Expenditures for social and cultural needs from the state budget of the republic had increased in 1969 by 8.8 times over the 1940 level and came to more than 1 billion rubles (43 percent of the total budget). As a result of the rise in consumer-goods production and the higher standard of living of the population, retail trade turnover has grown systematically. Its gross volume had risen from 297.9 million rubles in 1928 (in terms of 1969 comparable prices) to 4,747 million rubles in 1969. Pension payments amounted to 473.4 million rubles in 1969 (153.1 million in 1958). There were 3,086 savings banks in Byelorussia in 1969. Deposits in them by the population amounted to more than 1.1 billion rubles as of Jan. 1, 1970 (17 million rubles in 1940). The amount of money deposited in savings banks by the population rose in the period 1940–69 by 64 times. The average size of deposits per person in 1969 was 124 rubles (1.9 rubles in 1940).

Major gains have been made in housing construction. From 1959 to 1968, 33.9 million sq m were brought into use as a result of expenditures by the state, the kolkhozes, and the population, and in 1969, another 4.2 million sq m were brought into service.


Ekonomika Sovetskoi Belorussii, 1917–1967. Minsk, 1967.
Ekonomika Belorusskoi SSR ν stroitel’stve kommunizma. Minsk, 1967.
Promyshlennost’ Belorusskoi SSR: Statisticheskii sb. Minsk, 1965.
Belorusskaia SSR. Moscow, 1957.
Malinin, S., M. Ippa, and A. Razumenko. Narodnoe khoziaistvo Belorussii na sovremennom etape. Minsk, 1964.
Martinkevich, F. S. Razmeshchenie i spetsializatsiia sel’skogo khoziaistva Belorusskoi SSR. Minsk, 1961.
Ekonomicheskaia geografiia BSSR. Minsk, 1967.
Levin, I. B., G. B. Pekelis, and A. P. Ianchenko. Elektroenergetika BSSR i ee rezervy. Minsk, 1963.
Polonskii, M. L., and M. I. Rostovtsev. Belorusskaia SSR. Moscow, 1964.
Geografiia Belorussii. Minsk, 1965.
Belorusskaia SSR ν tsifrakh ν 1965 g. Minsk, 1966.
Belorusskaia SSR za 50 let: Statisticheskii sb. Minsk, 1968.
Tikhonov, A. I., and S. E. Cherepovich. Belorussiia—respublika bol’shoi khimii. Minsk, 1964.
Novye goroda Belorussii. Edited by V. A. Korol’. Minsk, 1966.
Zhuchkevich, V. A., A. Ia. Malyshev, and N. E. Rogozin. Goroda i sela BSSR. Minsk, 1959.
Ekonomicheskaia istoriia BSSR. Edited by S. N. Malinin and K. I. Shabuni. Minsk, 1969.
Rakov, A. A. Naselenie BSSR. Minsk, 1969.


Medicine and public health In 1968 the birthrate was 16.5 per thousand, and the death rate was 7.0 per thousand (compared with 25.5 in 1913). Infant mortality was 19.9 per thousand live births (compared with 180 in 1913). In 1968 the average life span was 73 years (compared with 37 years in 1896–97). The principal causes of death were malignant growths and cardiovascular diseases.

Cholera and smallpox, which were encountered before World War I (1914–18), were eliminated during the first few years of Soviet power. During the German fascist occupation of Byelorussia, prevalent diseases included relapsing, spotted, and enteric typhus, malaria, and other infectious diseases. Thanks to the introduction of sanitary antiepidemic measures, by 1950 high-level disease indexes of enteric and spotted typhus, dysentery, diphtheria, trachoma, and venereal diseases had dropped lower than those of 1940, and the incidence of relapsing typhus had been eliminated. During the ensuing years malaria, spotted typhus, polio, and rabies were eliminated. Cases of diphtheria, tetanus, and tuberculous meningitis have become rare and isolated. The disease rate of enteric typhus and whooping cough has also been considerably lowered. Individual cases of anthrax, brucellosis, and leptospirosis have been noted.

Outstanding from a medical-geographical point of view on the territory of Byelorussia are the lowland regions, located in the basins of the Pripiat’, Berezina, Dnieper, Neman, and Zapadnaia Dvina rivers. The peat-bog, marshy soils and large forests create the conditions here for the spread of certain naturally occurring local diseases (tularemia, encephalitis caused by ticks, and leptospirosis) and endemic goiter.

By 1969 there were 1,050 hospital institutions functioning in Byelorussia with 87,700 beds (9.9 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) as contrasted with 240 hospitals with 6,400 beds (0.9 beds per 1,000) in 1913. Hospitals have specialized beds for therapy (14,000), surgery (10,000), oncology (1,700), otorhinolaryngology (1,100), ophthalmology (900), and nervous diseases (1,900) and for pregnant women and those in childbirth (7,000), gynecological cases (3,700), sick children (noninfectious, 9,700), and so on. Polyclinical aid was rendered by 1,547 ambulatory and polyclinical institutions and 2,800 points staffed with paramedics and midwives (as compared with 139 and 224 in 1913); at enterprises workers are serviced by 13 medical and sanitary sections and 192 medical hygiene stations. By 1969 there were 533 women’s and children’s consultation offices in operation. The number of children of nursery age in permanent nurseries and kindergartens amounted to 68,000, and there were 2,900 places in special children’s sanatoriums. Seventy-five dispensaries for tuberculous diseases were operating (compared to two in 1913), as well as 11 for oncological diseases, and 33 for skin and venereal diseases (in 1913 there were none). In 1969 there were 1,085 pharmacies and 3,141 pharmaceutical stations (as contrasted with 297 privately owned pharmacies in 1913). A network of sanitary antiepidemic institutions has been established, including 169 sanitary and epidemicological stations. Working at treatment and disease-prevention institutions in 1969 were 21,300 physicians of all specialties—that is, one physician for 418 people (as compared with 1,167 physicians, or 1.7 physicians for 10,000 people, in 1913)—as well as 66,000 paramedical personnel. The education of medical staffs is carried out at three medical institutes (in Minsk, Vitebsk, and Grodno) and at 22 medical schools. In order to raise the qualifications of medical personnel, the Institute for the Advanced Training of Physicians was established in Minsk (1932), and two medical schools were founded (in Bobruisk and Pinsk). There are nine medical scientific research institutes.

Byelorussia has at its disposal various natural means of treatment; its healthy climate, picturesque locations, considerable deposits of peat, sapropels, and numerous sources of mineral waters have created a base for the development of a network of health resorts. By 1969 there were 19 sanatoriums for adults with 4,400 places, 25 for children with 3,000 places, and one boardinghouse with 100 places; there were also 15 workers’ resorts with 4,400 places. The Byelorussian Ministry of Health also owns sanatoriums in other Union republics (the Ukrainian SSR, the Georgian SSR, the Lithuanian SSR, the Latvian SSR, and the Estonian SSR). Funds allocated from the republic’s budget for the development of public health facilities and physical culture are growing constantly: 268 million rubles in 1969, as compared to 36.4 million rubles in 1940.

Sports and tourism have also become important. By 1969 there were 65 stadiums (each with a seating capacity of 1,500 or more), more than 3,000 multipurpose sports areas, and 34 swimming pools. The total number of persons engaged in physical culture is 2,142,000, and there are more than 2,900 Masters of Sport. There is a well-developed network of camping sites and tourist routes, among which 364 go through sites of the Soviet people’s military and labor glory, and there are four ail-Union routes. In 1968, 20 tourist bases provided services for approximately 18,000 tourists. There are 113 convalescent sports camps, as well as houses for hunters and fishermen. In 1969, Byelorussia was visited by approximately 20,000 tourists from 42 countries of the world.


Savchenko, N. E. “Zdravookhranenie Belorussii k piatidesiatiletiiu Sovetskoi vlasti.” Zdravookhranenie Belorussii, 1967, no. 11.
Kardash, I. B. “Itogi piatidesiatiletnei bor’by s ostrozaraznymi i sotsial’nymi bolezniami ν BSSR.” Zdravookhranenie Belorussii, 1967, no. 11.
Veterinary services As a result of natural and geographic conditions of the territory of Byelorussia, there are periodical outbreaks of blood parasitic diseases of farm animals (babesiasis and anaplasmosis of horned cattle, as well as piroplasmosis among horses), which are carried by ticks. In the forest and marsh regions, miasmic diseases of farm animals and subcutaneous gadflies are widespread. The territory of Byelorussia is enzootic (constantly subject to infection) by trichinosis among pigs; as a consequence, this disease is registered here more frequently than in other regions of the USSR. Also widespread are worm diseases of horned cattle and pigs (fascioliasis, ascaridosis, and dictyocaulosis, for example).
In 1969, 2,235 specialists with a higher education and 5,610 with middle-level veterinary education were working in Byelorussia. There are 2,266 veterinary institutions in Byelorussia, including 117 stations for combating animal diseases, 1,040 veterinary sections, and 123 veterinary laboratories. Direction of the veterinary service is carried out by the Veterinary Administration of the republic’s Ministry of Agriculture; and in the administrative regions it is handled by the chief veterinarians. Highly qualified specialists are trained at the Vitebsk Veterinary Institute, and veterinary assistants receive their education at eight veterinary technicums. The foremost research centers in the veterinary field are the Vitebsk Veterinary Institute and the Byelorussian Scientific Research Veterinary Institute (near Minsk).

Children were being trained in reading and writing (making use of church books) as early as the 11th and 12th centuries in the cities of Polotsk, Turov, Pinsk, Minsk, and Vitebsk. The Sermons of Kirill Turovskii (12th century) were distributed throughout Rus’. In the 12th century Evfrosiniia Polotskaia taught reading and writing and the transcription of books at her convent. In the 12th and 13th centuries literacy in the western Russian lands began to penetrate more and more to the stratum of the townspeople—craftsmen and merchants; 13th-14th century birch bark documents found in Vitebsk testify to this.

The establishment of Byelorussian culture proceeded in sharp conflict with the national and religious oppression by the Lithuanian and Polish feudal lords and the Catholic clergy. The Reformation and the humanist movement had an enormous influence on the cultural and ideological development of the Byelorussian people. Byelorussian humanists and reformers gave special significance to educating the popular masses. There arose in Byelorussian territory many Protestant schools and printing shops, and the first textbooks in the Byelorussian language appeared. In the 16th-17th centuries in Iv’ie, Kletsk, Liubcha, Nesvizh, Novogrudok, and other cities there were Arian schools—educational institutions of the representatives of the Reformation in Byelorussia. An important role in the struggle with Catholicism and the Uniate Church was played by the brotherhoods and the fraternal schools which belonged to them. In the second half of the 17th century, some of the fraternal schools and printing shops were closed down as a result of increased reaction of the Polish Catholics.

The most famous representatives of education and pedagogic thought in Byelorussia in the 16th and 17th centuries were Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina, a humanist scholar and the area’s first printer; the Byelorussian humanists Simon Budnyi, Vasilii Tiapinskii, Lavrentii Zizanii Tustanovskii, Meletii Smotritskii, and Simeon Polotskii; and the publishers L. and K. Mamonichi (brothers), S. Sobol’, and P. Mstislavets.

Reunification with Russia at the end of the 18th century had great progressive significance for Byelorussia; this reunification facilitated the strengthening of cultural bonds between the fraternal Russian and Byelorussian peoples. More than 20 small Russian schools were opened for the urban population, as were two main and six smaller popular colleges. However, the level of development of popular education remained low: the Byelorussians were deprived of the possibility of studying in their native language; Russian schools and colleges were few; in most educational institutions (Uniate monasteries and Jesuit colleges) teaching was, as before, conducted in Polish; and the schools were not accessible to children of working people. Provisions for secondary education were significantly worse than in the old Russian provinces. Toward the middle of the 1890’s in Byelorussia and Lithuania, which were part of the Vilnius educational district, there were 15 secondary schools (Gymnasiums, Realschules, and teaching seminaries). The Catholic monastery colleges were closed only in the second quarter of the 19th century, when the general-education Russian school became predominant. In 1840 the Gory-Goretskaia Agricultural School was opened.

The surge of the social movement during the Revolution of 1905–07 touched Byelorussia, too. A visible role in the struggle for Byelorussian schools and the creation of textbooks in the native language was played in those years by the poet Iakub Kolas and the poet Tetka (A. S. Pashkevich). The first Byelorussian primer, Lemantar, was printed in 1906. Significant contributions to the development of culture and pedagogic thought in Byelorussia at the end of the 19th century and during the first quarter of the 20th century were made by the ethnographers and pedagogues E. R. Romanov and A. K. Serzhputovskii, the linguist E. F. Karskii, and the poet Ianka Kupala.

In the 1914–15 school year there were 7,682 general education schools of all sorts, including 7,492 primary schools, 119 incomplete secondary schools, and 71 secondary schools. In all types of schools 488,600 students were trained (one-fifth of all school-age children). Of the specialized secondary schools in 1915 there were technical schools, several teaching seminaries, and three teaching institutes. In Byelorussia in 1913 there were 851 public libraries (with a book collection of 423,000 copies). About 80 percent of the Byelorussian population was still illiterate.

The victory of the October Revolution opened broad possibilities for cultural development to the Byelorussian people. The basic task of the cultural revolution in the first years of Soviet power was the liquidation of the mass illiteracy of the population. In April 1919 the first evening schools for adults were opened, and beginning at the end of 1920 a network of schools was organized for semiliterates. The teaching was conducted in the native language of the students. On the initiative of the Party figure and educator P. N. Lepeshinskii and his brother, the educator M. N. Lepeshinskii, the first experimental school-communes were organized—the Litvinovicheskaia (1918) and Lemenskaia (1920–1924) school communes. They were greatly aided by V. I. Lenin, N. K. Krupskaia, and A. V. Lunacharskii. In April 1924 the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the Byelorussian SSR accepted a resolution on the introduction of universal compulsory primary education in the native language. It was completed by 1932, and the implementation of universal compulsory seven-year education began. The literacy of the population around this time reached 89 percent.

The fate of working people was different in the western regions of Byelorussia, which were captured in 1919 by bourgeois Poland. In the 1925–26 school year in the territory of western Byelorussia there remained only two Byelorussian and eight Polish-Byelorussian schools. After the reunification of the Byelorussian people (1939), universal seven-year education was introduced in January 1940.

In the Byelorussian SSR in the 1940–41 school year there was a total of 12,294 schools, in which 1.7 million pupils were trained; 56,600 students were trained in 25 institutions of higher learning and 128 specialized secondary schools.

During the Great Patriotic War the German fascist aggressors in Byelorussia destroyed 6,808 school buildings and all the nursery schools and kindergartens. In the zones of partisan activities (including Brest, Gomel’, and Vitebsk oblasts), general-education schools were created in the forests.

In the postwar years the school network was restored in Byelorussia within a very short time. By 1959 the literacy of the population in the nine-to-49 age group reached 99 percent. Beginning with the 1959–60 school year there was a transition to universal eight-year training, which was completed in the 1962–63 school year. Beginning with the 1966–67 school year, concrete measures directed toward the transition to universal secondary education were taken. In 1969, 260,000 children were in attendance in 2,333 preschool institutions. In the 1969–70 school year there were 11,660 general-education schools of all types, with 1,852,000 pupils. In 1969 there were 421 extrascholastic institutions, including 160 Palaces and Houses of Pioneers and Schoolchildren, 29 stations of young technicians, 20 stations of young naturalists, 189 children’s sports schools, and seven tourist-trip stations. In the 1969–70 school year there were 81,866 pupils in 148 professional-technical educational institutions; 144,400 pupils in 131 specialized secondary schools; and 137,300 students in 28 institutions of higher education. Among the largest institutions of higher education are the Lenin Byelorussian University and institutes of polytechnics, agriculture mechanization, technology, national economy, medicine, teaching, and foreign-language teaching in Minsk; an agricultural academy in Gorki; teaching, medical, and agricultural institutes in Grodno; and veterinary, medical, and teaching institutes in Vitebsk. In 1969 in Gomel’ a university was created based on a pedagogical institute. The institutions of the Byelorussian SSR prepare students in 170 special fields.

At the end of 1969 in Byelorussia there were 7,321 public libraries (general collection of 52,049,000 copies of books and journals), 48 museums, and 5,879 clubs. The largest libraries are the Lenin State Library of the Byelorussian SSR and the Fundamental Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR in Minsk. Among the main museums are the Historical Museum of Byelorussia, the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War, the House-Museum of the First Congress of the RSDLP, the Arts Museum, and the Ia. Kupala and Ia. Kolas literary museums (all in Minsk); the Historical-Archaeological Museum in Grodno; the Museum of the Heroic Defense of the Brest Fortress (Brest); and the House-Museum of A. Mickiewicz (Novogrudok).


Il’iushin, I. M., and S. A. Umreiko. Narodnoe obrazovanie ν Belorusskoi SSR. Minsk, 1961.
Narysy historyi narodnai asvety i pedahahichnai dumki u Belarusi. Minsk, 1968.
Kul’turnae budaunitstva u Belaruskai SSR: Rekamend. pakazal’nik litaratury. Minsk, 1965.
Belorusskaia SSR za 50 let: Statisticheskii sbornik. Minsk, 1968.
Nasha respublika: Tsifry i fakty. [Minsk, 1968.]
Amateur arts In 1969 there were a number of large amateur artistic groups, such as the Liavonikha Folk Dance Ensemble of the Palace of Culture of the Minsk Tractor Factory, the song and dance ensemble of the Lenin Palace of Culture of the Railroad Workers in Gomel’, the Neman Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of the Grodno Municipal Palace of Culture, the Kolas Folk Dance Ensemble of the Vitebsk Raion Palace of Culture, the Dniapro Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of the Rechitsk Municipal Palace of Culture, the Ulybka Agitteatr of the Mogilev Artificial Fiber Factory, and the folk theaters of the Minsk Tractor Factory, the Minsk Automobile Factory, the Palace of Culture of Byelorussian Labor Unions, the Palace of Culture of the Orsha Flax Combine, and the Men’s Folk Chorus of the Minsk Automobile Factory.
As of Jan. 1,1969, there were some 29,000 amateur artistic circles, including 5,616 dramatic, 8,966 choral, 2,507 musical, 4,929 dance, and 156 fine arts groups; the total number of participants was 465,000 people.

Natural and technical sciences Before the revolution the policy of the tsarist autocracy did not permit the formation of national cultural and scientific centers in Byelorussia. In 1840 near the village of Gorki the Gory-Goretskaia Agricultural School was opened, the highest division of which became the first agricultural higher educational institution in Russia, but by 1863 this institute was transferred to St. Petersburg as a result of revolutionary actions by a part of the student body. The only scientific institutions founded in the prerevolutionary period were the Minsk Experimental Marsh Station (1913), a medicinal plant station near Mogilev, and the Beniakonskaia Experimental Agricultural Station (1910), each of which had no more than 10 or 12 specialists working on projects.

NATURAL AND TECHNICAL SCIENCES AFTER THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION PREWAR PERIOD. The history of the natural and technical sciences in Byelorussia began with the formation of the Byelorussian SSR. The Agricultural Institute was reopened in Gorki in 1919 and was transformed into the Agricultural Academy in 1925. In 1919 the Vitebsk Botanical Garden was established, and a network of experimental agricultural institutions was organized. In 1921 the Byelorussian State University (BGU), a center for training national scientific personnel, opened in Minsk, and research studies were begun in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and the social sciences. In 1922 a number of higher educational institutions were founded in Minsk, Vitebsk, Gomel’, Mogilev, and other cities; they conduct scientific research. The republic’s first scientific center, the Institute of Byelorussian Culture (Inbelkul’t), was founded in 1922 to study among other subjects the natural resources of Byelorussia. In 1929, on the basis of Inbelkul’t, the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR (AN BSSR) was created encompassing a number of scientific institutes. The principal direction of scientific research was linked to the study of the raw-material and power resources of Byelorussia, together with the problems posed by newly created industry and a large-scale, collectivized agriculture.

The Geological Institute of the AN BSSR carried out geological surveys (Academicians N. F. Bliodukho and G. F. Mirchink of the AN BSSR, Corresponding Member A. M. Zhirmunskii of the AN BSSR, and others), and most of the republic’s territory was photographed. Boreholes also began to be drilled, as a rule not very deep (200–300 m, some as deep as 1,000 m); geophysical investigations (magnetic and gravimetric) were conducted; and primary, small-scale geological maps were compiled. As a result, deposits of mineral raw materials were discovered, as well as building materials, and many problems of supplying water to the cities were solved. An examination was started concerning the peat resources of Byelorussia; work was done on the problems of extracting, drying, and burning peat, as well as studies of the chemical composition of peat and sapropels; these operations were carried out by the Peat Institute of the AN BSSR (1934), the Polytechnic Institute, Belgiprotorf (The Byelorussian State Project Institute of Peat), and others.

In the area of agricultural sciences the Scientific Research Institute of Rural and Forest Economy, the Institute for the Study of Agricultural Soils and Fertilizers of the AN BSSR, the AU-Union Scientific Research Institute of Marsh Farming, and a number of agricultural experimental stations have conducted projects encompassing problems of draining and reclaiming marshy soils (Academicians la. N. Afanas’ev and P. P. Rogovoi and Corresponding Member A. G. Medvedev of the AN BSSR). New, more valuable varieties of potatoes (Academician P. I. Al’smik), flax, and other crops were developed, a food base for animal husbandry was established, harvests of farm crops were increased, and the plentiful forest resources were utilized.

Inbelkul’t had already begun research in botany, zoology, and other biological sciences; these investigations were developed further at the Institute of Biology of the AN BSSR (1931) and in departments of the BGU and other higher educational institutions. A description of the flora of the Byelorussian SSR was made, including medicinal plants, weeds, and lower plants. Forests were studied (Academician V. I. Perekhod and Corresponding Member S. P. Mel’nik of the AN BSSR). Research studies were made of diseases of potatoes and other crops (N. A. Dorozhkin, V. F. Kuprevich, and others). Work was begun on plant physiology (M. N. Goncharik). The first systematic investigations of the fauna of Byelorussia were conducted under the direction of A. V. Fediushin. Not long before the war, work began on the compilation of the multivolume Fauna of the Byelorussian SSR (I. N. Serzhanin, Academician N. M. Kulagin of the AN BSSR, and others). The works of T. N. Godnev and his students on photosynthesis, biochemistry, and plant nourishment, carried out at the Biological Institute of the AN BSSR and at the BGU, were outstanding. Major contributions in chemistry were made by Academician N. A. Prilezhaev of the AN BSSR, who together with his students conducted a number of investigations on the utilization of a method which he had discovered for oxidizing certain organic compounds; Academician V. V. Shkatelov of the AN BSSR, who studied resin acids; and Academician O. K. Kedrov-Zikhman of the AN BSSR and others in biochemistry. Research in physics and mathematics was done primarily by scholars in the departments of the Byelorussian State University.

Science in the Byelorussian SSR increased its tempo of development right up to the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The German fascist invaders inflicted enormous damage on Byelorussian science. Many scientists perished at the fronts and in partisan detachments. During the German fascist occupation the material and technical base of scientific institutions and higher educational institutions was destroyed; institute buildings were razed; laboratory equipment, libraries, and other valuable property were destroyed or transported to Germany.

POSTWAR SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT. During the first postwar decade a great deal of effort and money was expended on restoring scientific institutes and laboratories. Throughout these years science in Byelorussia developed primarily along its former lines. There was continuous study of the natural resources important for the national economy. There was a predominance of research in the field of biology and its applications. Under the direction of M. P. Tomin work was completed on the multivolume Flora of the Byelorussian SSR (1959). A number of studies were completed on lower plants (V. F. Kuprevich, A. P. Pidoplichko, and others). The vegetation of marshes and meadows was studied, and biological principles for their improvement were developed (Academician S. G. Skoropanov of the AN BSSR and others). Academician I. D. Iurkevich of the AN BSSR summed up many years of study on the forests of Byelorussia, and he proposed recommendations for restoring and extending them. Academician N. D. Nestorovich of the AN BSSR carried out a great deal of work in the study and practical introduction of species of trees and bushes brought in from other regions.

Research continued on plant diseases, especially those affecting potatoes, and on methods of combating them. Much attention was paid to the study of Byelorussian reservoirs. The species composition of fish and their distribution in lakes and rivers of the Byelorussian SSR have been studied, and recommendations have been made concerning the rational utilization of the republic’s fish-producing lakes.

Medicine. Neurological studies have been made (Academician N. I. Grashchenkov of the AN BSSR, M. B. Krol’, and D. A. Markov); diseases of the cardiovascular system have been studied (Academician B. I. Trusevich of the AN BSSR and others); and skin and venereal diseases (Academician A. Ia. Prokopchuk of the AN BSSR) have been researched.

Peat. In 1953 the Peat Institute completed the publication of a major work, Peat Reserves of the Byelorussian SSR, which describes the structure and botanical and chemical composition of peats and determines the possibilities for their utilization (A. P. Pidoplichko and others). Studies were completed on the thermal processing of peat, especially its gasification, and methods were proposed for the thorough chemical processing of its products from decomposition by heat (Corresponding Member V. E. Rakovskii of the AN BSSR and others).

Chemistry. During the first postwar decade a number of valuable research studies were carried out in the field of chemistry. The Institute of Chemistry worked on the analysis of mineral raw material, on colloidal chemistry (Academician N. F. Ermolenko of the AN BSSR), physical chemistry (Academician B. V. Erofeev of the AN BSSR and M. M. Pavliuchenko) and organic chemistry. Physics research during this period was not developed because of a scarcity of qualified scientific personnel and a weakness of experimental facilities.

DEVELOPMENTS SINCE THE MID-1950’s. Major shifts in the development of the natural sciences and technology in the Byelorussian SSR occurred during the mid-1950’s. At the present time in Byelorussia physical mathematics and technology are in the forefront; there has been an essential change in the subject matter of biological research. This shift was conditioned, in the first place, by the fact that the republic had become one of the most vigorous industrial centers of the USSR with well-developed machine-building, automotive, tractor, instrument-making, radio engineering, and chemical industries. In the second place, the higher educational institutions of the Byelorussian SSR, first and foremost the BGU, were training a significant number of young scientific personnel in the fields of physical mathematics and technology. The Institute of Physics and Mathematics was founded in 1955, and in 1959 the separate Institute of Mathematics together with a computer center, under the administration of the AN BSSR, was formed on its basis. The year 1963 saw the establishment of the Institute of Solid-state Physics and Semiconductors of the AN BSSR. In addition to the already existing Institute of Physics and Technology, the Institute of Power Engineering (1953; subsequently renamed the Institute of Heat and Mass Exchange), the Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering of the AN BSSR (1965; with a nuclear reactor which had been put into operation in 1962), and the Institute of Technical Cybernetics (1965) were created. Also functioning in the academy are the Electronics Laboratory, the Physics Division of Nondestructive Testing, and the Mechanics Division of Polymers, reorganized in 1969 as the Mechanics Institute of Metallopolymeric Systems (Gomel’). Laboratories were established in connection with the departments of a number of higher educational institutions. These institutes have been supplied with modern scientific equipment.

An important role in the development of science in Byelorussia was also played by the transfer of a number of highly qualified scholars from Leningrad and Moscow to work at the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR and at the republic’s higher educational institutions. The following have been elected academicians of the AN BSSR: in 1953, the physicists A. N. Sevchenko and B. I. Stepanov and the biologist N. V. Turbin; in 1956, the mathematicians N. P. Erugin and V. I. Krylov, the physicists M. A. El’iashevich, N. N. Sirota, the heat engineering scientist A. V. Lykov, and the metallurgist V. P. Severdenko; in 1959, the biologist I. A. Bulygin.

The principal specializations in physics research are optics and spectroscopy, the physics and chemistry of semiconductors, and quantum electronics. Studies in engineering physics have concentrated on heat and mass exchange, nuclear power engineering, the mechanical properties of metals, and metal research. Research is also being conducted on the theory of elementary particles, nuclear physics, technical cybernetics, mechanics of metallopolymeric systems, magnetic methods of testing, and radio electronics.

Spectroscopy and luminescence. The problems of spectroscopy and luminescence are being worked on at the Physics Institute of the AN BSSR and at BGU. In this field a number of fundamental problems of theoretical spectroscopy have been solved, and a theory of the luminescence of complex molecules has been constructed (B. I. Stepanov, who in 1967 was awarded the S. I. Vavilov Gold Medal for outstanding work in the field of physics). Methods and equipment were worked out for diagnosing lowtemperature plasma (M. A. El’iashevich, Lenin Prize, 1966). Sophisticated methods have been developed for studying the excited states of complex molecules of gases—methods for determining the varied heat capacity, the temperature of the excited molecules, and so on (Academician N. A. Borisevich of the AN BSSR and his colleagues); the solution of this problem has, in particular, great importance for the study of processes in quantum oscillators. Research studies are being successfully carried out on the luminescence of organic materials (A. P. Sevenchenko, Corresponding Member L. V. Volod’ko of the AN BSSR, and others), on infrared spectroscopy and technology, and on photochemistry (Corresponding Member G. P. Gurinovich of the AN BSSR). A new method has been created in crystal optics which allows the study of the properties of crystals encompassing all possible types of anisotropy (Academician F. I. Fedorov of the AN BSSR and his colleagues).

Quantum electronics. Special notice should be taken of research studies in the field of quantum electronics. Under the direction of B. I. Stepanov, engineering methods were developed for the design of quantum oscillators; lasers have been made operational with solutions of organic dyes (these possess a number of advantages); and methods are being developed to transform the frequencies of laser radiation. For its achievements in the development of physics and in training highly qualified scientific personnel, the Physics Institute in 1967 was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

Solid-state physics and semiconductors. In the field of solid-state physics and semiconductors, the nature of chemical bonds in solid states and the growth of crystals, mostly semiconductor crystals, are being studied. Studies have been carried out in the creation of various types of ferrites, ferromagnetic films, and semiconductor compounds (N. N. Sirota). Studies are also being made on electronic and radio physics (Corresponding Member V. G. Vafiadi of the AN BSSR and others), on the theory of relativity, and on quantum field theory. Problems of the plasticity and strength of metals and alloys, metal studies, and metal processing are being studied at the Institute of Physics and Technology of the AN BSSR, as well as in departments of the Polytechnical Institute. Research has been carried out on the mechanism of plastic deformation; new technical methods are being created for the pressure treatment of metals (V. P. Severdenko). Also under study are the processes of crystallization and the structure and properties of various alloys, primarily cast iron. Methods are being worked out for the ther-momechanical processing of alloys in order to increase their strength and plasticity (Academician K. V. Gorev of the AN BSSR). The Physics and Technical Institute of the AN BSSR is the principal organization of the Soviet Union on problems of the strength and plasticity of materials in an ultrasonic field.

Heat and mass exchange. An important part of the research on physics and technology is the problem of heat and mass exchange, which is now under study in the appropriate institute of the AN BSSR. This institute, which was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1969, is the principal organization in the Soviet Union dealing with this problem. The processes of mass and heat exchange play an essential role in chemical reactors, in thermal diffusion installations, in electric impulse technology, and especially in various drying processes. The theory of heat and mass transfer, developed by A. V. Lykov, was the basis for a series of experimental investigations and engineering solutions.

Nuclear power engineering. The basic trends of nuclear power engineering (Academician A. K. Krasin of the AN BSSR) are concerned with problems of utilizing dissociable gases as heat conductors for atomic electric power plants and energy for nuclear fuel in radiation chemical technology; several substances valuable for the national economy have been created synthetically by radiation methods.

Mechanics of metallopolymeric systems. In the field of the mechanics of metallopolymeric systems (Corresponding Member V. A. Belyi of the AN BSSR) studies are being made on the physical and mechanical properties of polymers and machine parts made of them; methods of creating thin-layer polymer coatings have been developed (anticorrosion, electric insulation, and so on).

Mathematics. Byelorussian mathematicians have also made significant achievements. Research studies in the field of mathematics are carried out primarily at the Mathematics Institute of the AN BSSR, headed by Academician N. P. Erugin of the AN BSSR, a Hero of Socialist Labor, and at the mathematics departments of the BGU. Work is being conducted in the field of ordinary differential equations (N. P. Erugin), computer mathematics (Academician V. I. Krylov of the AN BSSR), algebra and group theory (Academicians D. A. Suprunenko and S. A. Chunikhin of the AN BSSR), integral equations (Academician F. D. Gakhov of the AN BSSR), mathematical problems of the theory of automatic control (directed by Academician E. A. Barbashin of the AN BSSR), and equations of mathematical physics (E. A. Ivanov). There are developments in the mathematical software for the Minsk computers that are fundamentally increasing their efficiency.

Technical cybernetics. In 1965 the Institute of Technical Cybernetics was established on the basis of the cybernetics laboratory (directed by Corresponding Member G. K. Goranskii of the AN BSSR), a part of the Mathematics Institute. The basic problem being worked on by the institute is the theory and practical method of automating engineering work with the help of computer technology, in particular, the automation of machine-building design. In this field the institute is the principal scientific organization of the USSR.

Biological sciences. In the biological sciences essential changes have occurred during the past 15 years both in the subject matter and in the methods of research. An ever-increasing role is being played by theoretical and experimental research studies. The Institute of Experimental Botany, the Institute of Genetics and Cytology, the Division of Microbiology, the Laboratory of Biophysics and Isotopes, and the Institute of Physiology, which does work in the field of animal and human physiology, have been founded. Research studies are continuing on the fruit-bearing quality, mineral nourishment, and biology of trees (Academician N. D. Nesterovich of the AN BSSR). Also under study is the effect of physiologically active soil substances on growth and formative processes in plants; research is being carried out on the influence of chemical growth stimulators on organisms and on the use of herbicides. Studies have also been undertaken on the utilization of valuable plants which grow in a wild state—both for technology and for food (Academician N. V. Smol’skii of the AN BSSR). Research has been conducted on the biochemistry of plants, especially that of the potato (Academician A. S. Vecher of the AN BSSR).

The work of Academician V. F. Kuprevich of the AN BSSR, a Hero of Socialist Labor (Division of the Physiology and Systems Study of Lower Plants of the AN BSSR) laid the foundation for soil enzymology—a new specialization in soil science which studies the action of fermenting agents in the soil and determines the processes of decay and synthesis of organic material in the soil. In the Division of Microbiology of the AN BSSR studies are being conducted on the effect of plant roots on the soil (Corresponding Member S. A. Samtsevich of the AN BSSR).

Research studies in genetics and cytology are being carried out along the following lines: the genetic bases of heterosis and the obtaining of high-yielding forms of hybrids (Academician N. V. Turbin of the AN BSSR); the quantitative hereditary laws concerning the transmission of traits (Academician P. F. Rokitskii of the AN BSSR); artificial polyploids (increasing the number of chromosomes in a cell; the beginning of this specialization was made by Academician A. R. Zhebrak of the AN BSSR); and mutations (genetic changes) caused by chemical substances (P. F. Rokitskii) and ionizing radiations (N. V. Turbin and others). At the Laboratory of Biophysics and Isotopes an overall study is being undertaken of the processes of photosynthesis in a molecule of chlorophyll, the changes in the state of this molecule, and the centers of its activity (Academician T. N. Godnev and Corresponding Member A. A. Shlyk of the AN BSSR). In the Biophysics Laboratory studies are being conducted on the mechanisms of the transfer and preservation of energy in protein macromolecules.

Plant growing and soil science. Extensive practical research is being conducted in the field of plant growing and soil science. Scientific work is proceeding at the institutes of the Ministry of Agriculture in farming, soil science and agronomy, and fruit, potato, and vegetable growing. Research is also done by agricultural experimental stations and departments of the republic’s agricultural higher educational institutions. Soil studies have been completed (Academicians I. S. Lupinovich and P. P. Rogovoi and Corresponding Member A. G. Medvedev of the AN BSSR and others), and research has been done on methods of improving the soils; preparations are under way for the compilation of a land evaluation of Byelorussia. Studies are being made on improving and reclaiming peat-bog soils (S. G. Skoropanov and others); on selecting grain and groat crops, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit and berry crops; and on protecting agricultural plants (Academician N. A. Dorozhkin of the AN BSSR and others). Of special interest are the works of Academician P. I. Al’smik of the AN BSSR, a Hero of Socialist labor, on the selective development of potato varieties with an increased protein content. Basic principles have been established for soil-improvement machinery and its efficient operation (Academician M. E. Matsepuro of the AN BSSR and others).

Nervous system. Fundamental work is being conducted on the study of the nervous system in animals and human beings. The center for this research is the Institute of Physiology of the AN BSSR; such studies are also being carried on at the departments of the republic’s higher medical schools. Academician I. A. Bulygin of the AN BSSR, together with his colleagues, has demonstrated the existence of special types of sensory neurological conductors which lie at the base of the sympathetic reflexes and which are enclosed within the peripheral neurological ganglia and the central nervous system. Their properties have been determined along with their contacts with the motor neurological elements; a multiplicity of such sensory paths has been established, which enter the central nervous system in various segments. The works of Academician D. M. Golub of the AN BSSR established a firm foundation for the proposition concerning the multiplicity and multisegmental quality of the sensory paths of the internal organs. These works were the experimental basis for developing methods for the creation of new neurovascular paths in cases where the spinal cord has been injured.

Neurological research studies have continued intensively; Academician D. A. Markov of the AN BSSR has studied the incidence and therapy of generalized sclerosis. Physiologists and doctors have achieved important successes in the field of the physiology and therapy of the cardiovascular system (Academicians I. D. Mishenin and B. I. Trusevich of the AN BSSR and Corresponding Member N. I. Arinchin of the AN BSSR).

Among other medical research studies the following should be noted: the introduction of physiological methods for reviving apparently dead newborn babies (I. S. Legenchenko and L. S. Persiianikov), the development of operative methods for treating anomalies of the urogenital system (A. I. Mikhel’son, Corresponding Member N. E. Savchenko of the AN BSSR, and V. A. Mokhort), the study of the change of a number of microelements in normal and pathological states (Academician V. A. Leonov of the AN BSSR), the development of new physical and chemical methods for tissue research, vitamin exchange (V. A. Bondárin, Iu. M. Ostrovskii, and others), the study of biochemical processes occurring in the nervous system as a result of radiation damage (L. S. Cherkasova and others).

Zoology. Research studies are being conducted in the field of zoology. Attention is concentrated on the fauna of Byelorussia, especially that of Poles’e.

Animal husbandry. Animal husbandry scientists and selective breeding specialists, working in the institutes of animal husbandry, institutes of veterinary science of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the departments of higher agricultural institutions, have developed highly productive breeds of Byelorussian black-spotted hogs and red Byelorussian cattle. They have also worked on problems of the prevention and elimination of brucellosis and tuberculosis of farm animals (Academician M. K. Iuskovets of the AN BSSR and others), veterinary sanitation (Academician Kh. S. Goregliad of the AN BSSR), the elimination of the sources of the principal types of worm infestations (Academician R. S. Chebotarev of the AN BSSR and others).

Chemistry. Research studies in the field of chemistry are performed at two institutes of the AN BSSR—the Institute of Physical Organic Chemistry and the Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry—and at BGU, the Byelorussian Agricultural Academy, and other higher educational institutions and scientific research institutes. Chemists of the Byelorussian SSR have obtained a number of adsorbents and catalysts based on natural mineral raw materials and the modification of zeolites (molecular screens) (Academician N. F. Ermolenko of the AN BSSR and others). Catalytic methods have been developed for obtaining monomers based on petrochemical raw material (Academician B. V. Erofeev of the AN BSSR and others). Of great practical importance are the results of studies on improving the flotation process of enriching potassium fertilizers (Academician M. M. Pavliuchenko of the AN BSSR and others). Research is also being carried out on methods of synthesizing physiologically active substances (Academician N. S. Kozlov of the AN BSSR and others).

Geology. Geological research studies in Byelorussia are primarily carried out by the Geological Administration of the Council of Ministers of the BSSR, the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Geological Administration under the Council of Ministers of the BSSR, and the Laboratory of Geochemical Problems of the AN BSSR. A stratigraphic diagram has been worked out for the entire sedimentary layer structure as well as for the crystalline base; a regional tectonic breakdown of the territory has been provided; the material composition of the rocks has been studied; thousands of boreholes have been drilled, many reaching a depth of 3,000–5,000 m; a large complex of geophysical studies have been made; and geological, tectonic, and other maps have been compiled. New data have been obtained in the field of anthropogenic modifications of the earth’s crust. The most important results in the field of geological sciences are the discovery on the territory of Byelorussia of potassium and rock salts, petroleum, mineral waters, a large number of deposits of building materials, a shale-bearing basin, hard and soft coal, and evidence of ferrous and nonferrous metal ores (Academician G. V. Bogomolov of the AN BSSR, K. I. Lukashev, G. I. Goretskii, A. S. Makhnach, and others). Much work has been done in physical geography, especially in geomorphology, the study of Iandforms, agroclimatology and agrometeorology, paleogeography, and lake science.


Social sciencesPHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL THOUGHT. In ancient Rus’ and the period of feudal disintegration, the philosophical and social thought of the western lands of Russia developed within the framework of the prevailing religious world view. There was a prolonged struggle between Christianity and the pagan world view. The consolidation of Christianity at the end of the tenth century facilitated the spread of translated works of Graeco-Roman and Byzantine philosophers. Original landmarks of the religious and philosophical literature of the 12th century were Words and Sermons by Kirill Turovskii and the Epistle by Kliment Smoliatich. The folklore, literary works, and chronicles are permeated with the idea of preserving and unifying the Russian lands, as well as the need to combat foreign enemies. Feudal disintegration also gave rise to separatist moods.

Beginning in the 14th century exchanges of philosophical and social thought took place between Byelorussia, Lithuania, and Poland when Byelorussia was included in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which during the 16th century united with Poland into a single state—the Rzecz Pospolita (Commonwealth). At the same time the ideological and philosophical ties of the Byelorussian people with the Russian and the Ukrainian peoples continued to develop. The formation of the Byelorussian nationality coincided with the spread of humanistic ideas in culture and with the development of the Reformation. At the beginning of the 16th century the first Byelorussian printer, Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina, propagated the ideas of humanism, asserted the rights of reason in acquiring knowledge of the world, and strove to utilize the Bible for purposes of education. The ideological opposition to the prevailing religious and philosophical doctrine found expression in the Reformation doctrines of the 16th and 17th centuries. From positions of the humanistic world view the followers of anti-Trinitarian-ism and the heretical schools related to it defended the worth and freedom of the personality (Simon Budnyi, Vasilii Tiapinskii, the brothers Lavrentii and Stefan Zizanii, and others); they exposed the Catholic Church, criticized Orthodox religious and philosophical concepts and church authorities, criticized religious fanaticism and intolerance, and moved up from a religious skepticism to rationalistic views of the world.

The ideological leaders of the plebeian-peasant wing of the Reformation movement were Petr of Gonendz, M. Chekhovits, and Iakub of Kalinovka, all of whom shared the concepts of early Christian egalitarian communism, as well as the freethinking fugitive from Russia, Feodosii Kosoi, and others. The advocates of natural law (L. Sapega, A. A. Olizarovskii, and others), in opposition to medieval traditions and feudal-theological theories concerning the state and law, considered the phenomena of social life from the point of view of man’s nature and the requirements of human reason. Scholasticism (M. Smigletskii, I. Kimbar, and others), which gradually gained increasingly stronger positions in educational institutions after the opening in 1579 of the Jesuit Academy in Vil’no, was opposed to the materialistic-atheistic trend in philosophy, as represented by S. Lovan and K. Bekesh during the second half of the 16th century and by K. Lyshchinskii in the second half of the 17th century. In the treatise On the Nonexistence of God, K. Lyshchinskii acknowledged material nature to be the only reality and declared god to be the product of people’s fantasy. The growth of the national liberation movement at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries gave rise to a polemical literature (Meletii Smotritskii, Afanasii Filippovich), directed against the policy of Catholicization and Polonization, church union, and the suppression of the Byelorussian people’s culture. The idea of uniting Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia into one state was defended by Simeon Polotskii.

The triumph of feudal Catholic reactionism led to the strengthening of medieval scholasticism at the end of the 17th century and in the first few decades of the 18th. The development of philosophical and social thought slowed abruptly. A social and economic revival in the mid-18th century facilitated the spread of the ideas of Western European science and philosophy. An eclectic philosophy took shape (A. Skorul’skii, S. Shadurskii, B. Dobshevich), which combined elements of scholasticism with elements of the new, rationalistic thought and which gradually undermined the dominance of scholasticism. In the gentry journalism, published from the end of the 17th century through the middle of the 18th and directed against feudal anarchy in the Rzecz Pospolita, projects were put forth in behalf of political reforms and the strengthening of the state’s power.

The last third of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th saw the development of the ideology of the Enlightenment, influenced by French and Polish educators. After Byelorussia’s union with Russia the works of Russian naturalists and philosophers became widespread. The representatives of the natural sciences, relying primarily on the principles of deism, validated the role of experiments in cognition, and they asserted the idea of the unlimited potentials of human reason (M. Pochobut, V. Karchevskii). The deist K. Narbut highly valued the importance of liberating philosophy from scholasticism and theology. The dualist A. Dovgird criticized the apriorism and agnosticism of I. Kant and the skepticism of D. Hume and defended the materialistic sensualism of F. Bacon, J. Locke, and E. Condillac. The foes of the French Enlightenment (M. Bogush, M. Kadlubovskii) were opposed by the defenders of its ideas (I. Bykovskii). The physiocrats (I. Stroinovskii, K. Boguslavskii) developed the ideas of natural law; they also studied problems concerning the origin of society, the state, the place and role of science in society, and so on. A sharp ideological conflict developed over the peasant problem between the serf owners (I. Grabovskii) and the advocates of abolishing serfdom (M. Karpovich, D. Pil’khovskii, and others). The idea of union between Byelorussia and Russia was promoted by G. Konisskii. The liberal educational organization entitled the Society of Scoundrels demanded the political and legal equality of people before the law; they carried on a struggle against the obscurantism and darkness of the Jesuits from the Polotsk Jesuit Academy. The members of the gentry-revolutionary Society of the Philomaths and a Decembrist organization, the Society of Military Friends, maintained the necessity of overthrowing the autocracy and abolishing serfdom.

In the middle of the 19th century the revolutionary democratic trend came into being in philosophical and social thought. Early representatives of this tendency were F. Savich and Iu. Bokshanskii. During the second half of the 19th century revolutionary democratic ideas were spread by K. Kalinovskii, F. Bogushevich, A. Gurinovich, and la. Luchina. They criticized the antipopulist character of the Reform of 1861, spread propaganda on the need for a revolt against tsarism, called upon the Russian and Byelorussian peoples to form a revolutionary alliance, defended the ideas of “communal socialism” and power for the people, and defended the Byelorussian culture and language, which were being persecuted by tsarism. The revolutionary democrats were opposed by the gentry-bourgeois school of social thought (A. El’skii, I. Orlovskii, and A. Pshchelka), which evolved into an advocacy of nationalism and spread the ideas of the peaceful coexistence of classes.

During the 1870’s and 1880’s the revolutionary Narodniks (or Populists; including Grinevetskii, Bogdanovich, Sudzilovskii, and Ivanovskii), the Belorusskoe so-tsial’no-revoliutsionnoe obozrenie and the journal Gomon (two issues were published in 1884) advocated the overthrow of tsarism and the establishment of a democratic republic; they defended the idea of national liberation and the need for a league of the peoples of Russia, who should all have equal rights. During the second half of the 19th century materialistic views in the field of the natural sciences were defended by several teachers of the Gory-Goretskii Agricultural Institute, A. V. Sovetov, I. A. Stebut, and others.

The mid-1880’s marked the beginning of the spread of Marxist ideas in Byelorussia along with the actual works of K. Marx and F. Engels. The first revolutionary circles to spread Marxist ideas were linked with the Plekhanovite group Liberation of Labor. The First Congress of the RSDLP was held in Minsk, in March 1898. In the 1890’s, V. I. Lenin’s works penetrated into Byelorussia. Marxist-Leninist views became widespread among the workers by the Leninist Iskra, as well as the Bolshevik newspapers Vpered, Proletarii, and Novaia zhizn’.

Revolutionary democratic ideas found broad expression in the creative work of the writers Ianko Kupala and Iakub Kolas and many other Byelorussian cultural figures.

During the period of the Revolution of 1905–07 the Bolsheviks made use of the legal Minsk newspaper Severo-Zapadnyi krai in order to spread Leninist ideas. Great service in disseminating the Marxist-Leninist world view and in organizing Bolshevik groups in Byelorussia was rendered by the newspaper Pravda and by a number of Party leaders—F. E. Dzerzhinskii, I. V. Babushkin, P. N. Lepeshinskii, V. N. Zalezhskii, M. V. Frunze, and A. F. Miasnikov.

With the victory of the October Revolution and the formation of the Byelorussian SSR (1919) the foundations were laid for systematic scientific-research, propaganda, and pedagogical work on Marxist-Leninist philosophy. Departments of philosophy were established at the Byelorussian University (1921) and the Communist University (1924); also created was the Philosophy Section of the Scientific Society of Byelorussian Marxists (1923–24, 1927), on the basis of which arose the Society of Militant Dialectical Materialists (1929). In 1922 the first textbook on Marxist philosophy in the USSR was published in Minsk (S. Ia. Vol’fson). Publication was begun in the Byelorussian language of the most important works of K. Marx and F. Engels and the collected works of V. I. Lenin (in 1929–33 six volumes were published; in 1948 a new edition was begun, and by 1968 forty-one volumes were published). Among the publications of the 1920’s were attacks against “mechanism” (works by S. Z. Katsenbogen), the “theory of equilibrium,” criticism of the philosophical foundations of “left-wing” and right-wing opportunism, and a defense of the theory of socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the works of P. Ia. Pankevich, R. M. Vydra, I. V. Gerchikov, and others, bourgeois and revisionist sociological concepts were subjected to criticism. Many works were devoted to criticism of positivism, pragmatism, Freudianism, and other theories. Also studied were problems in the history of religion (N. M. Nikol’skii) and the reasons for the existence of religious survivals.

In 1931 the Institute of Philosophy of the AN BSSR was established, and the training of personnel in the field of philosophy was broadened. New textbooks on philosophy were published (B. E. Bykovskii, S. Ia. Vol’fson). Special attention was paid to the problems of the Leninist stage in the development of Marxist philosophy and to the relationship between the international and national aspects of cultural construction (I. M. Iliushin). Works were published on questions of scientific atheism and family and marital relations; bourgeois ideology, particularly the ideology of fascism, was criticized.

After the Great Patriotic War a rapid growth of personnel in the field of philosophy began; during the postwar years in Byelorussia there were only six candidates in philosophy, whereas by 1970 scientific research and educational institutions were employing 12 doctors of philosophy and 138 candidates in this field. The subjects studied at the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the AN BSSR and in departments at higher educational institutions include the Leninist philosophical heritage, problems of communist construction and the international communist movement, and the laws of the development of a communist society (V. I. Pankratov and others); criticism is also made of bourgeois ideology and revisionism (V. M. Sikorskii, V. I. Stepanov, G. P. Davidiuk, and 1.1. Antonovich). Works have been published on questions of social planning and progress, national culture, the change in class relationships, and the history of sociology (Academicians G. F. Aleksandrov, Iu. A. Vasil’ev, K. P. Buslov, and A. I. Golovnev of the AN BSSR and others). The monograph On V. I. Lenin’s “Philosophical Notebooks” (1959) was published for the first time in the USSR. Research on the problems of dialectics is carried on (G. A. Levin, V. M. Kovalgin, V. I. Gorbach, V. D. Morozov, D. I. Shirokanov, and others). Works have been published on questions of the origin of consciousness and on problems of scientific cognition (P. F. Protasenia, P. D. Puzikov, and L. V. Uvarov).

In the field of the history of philosophy, studies have been conducted on the world views of K. Kalinovskii, F. Skorina, S. Polotskii, F. Bogushevich, and A. Gurinovich, as well as on the period of the spread of Marxism in Byelorussia (I. N. Lushchitskii, N. A. Aleksiutovich, E. K. Doroshevich, O. I. Efremova, S. A. Podokshin, V. M. Konon, V. A. Serbenta, and others). Works have been published on the history of Russian and foreign philosophy (M. T. Iovchuk, V. I. Stepanov, and E. K. Azarenko) and on the dissemination of Marxism in Poland (A. S. Klevchenia). Also being studied are the philosophical problems of the natural sciences—physics, biology, and cybernetics (A. S. Karliuk, I. I. Zhbankova, E. V. Volkova, N. I. Zhukov, and others). A number of philosophers are working in the field of atheism (E. S. Prokoshina, E. M. Babosov, V. A. Molokov), ethics and aesthetics (S. D. Laptenok, N. I. Kriukovskii), and specific sociological studies. (In 1967 a sociological laboratory was established at BGU.)


History. The first descriptions of historical events in Byelorussia are contained in the chronicles of ancient Rus’. Byelorussian chronicle writing developed from the 15th through the 17th centuries (the Suprasl’sk Chronicle, the Chronicle of Avraamka, and the so-called Lithuanian-Byelorussian Chronicle of the 15th century; the Bykhovets Chronicle and the Barkulabovo Chronicle of the 16th century; and the Chronicler and the Vitebsk Chronicle of the 17th century). A different kind of historical work was the description of events and specific localities (The Diary of the Novogrudsk Assistant Judge Fedor Evlashevskii, a description of the Polotsk region by A. Guagnini, 16th century; The Diary of Afanasii Filippovich, 17th century; The Description of Krichevsk County by Andrei Meier, 18th century; and others).

In the mid-19th century works appeared on the history of Byelorussia (M. Bez-Kornilovich, O. V. Turchinovich, A. K. Kirkor, K. A. Govorskii, and A. M. Sementovskii), and during the 1860’s the historiographic school known as the Western Russians formed around the journal Vestnik Zapadnoi Rossii; they concentrated their main attention on events of religious and political history and interpreted them from clerical-monarchical and great-power positions. The historically common interests of the Byelorussian and Russian peoples were utilized by them in order to negate the independent history of the Byelorussian people. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th there arose an interest in the historiography of Byelorussia’s socioeconomic development. The works of F. I. Leontovich, M. F. Vladimirskii-Budanov, A. S. Grushevskii, M. K. Liubavskii, 1.1. Lappo, and A. P. Sapunov traced the phenomena of agrarian relationships and the economic life of the cities. During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th a series of multivolume collections and documents were published. The growth of the social movement and the revolutionary struggle of the masses, in addition to the formation of the Byelorussian nation, evoked efforts among early 20th-century bourgeois historians to conceive of the history of Byelorussia as an independent phenomenon. The first publications of this kind appeared in Nasha niva. In 1910, V. Lastovskii published his Brief History of Byelorussia, written from a bourgeois nationalistic point of view. A supposedly classless structure was declared a characteristic of the Byelorussian people. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was represented as the first Byelorussian state, and the 16th century was called the golden age of liberty and prosperity.

Soviet historiography of Byelorussia was formed during the 1920’s. Along with the historians of the old school, active participants in the Byelorussian revolutionary movement entered into the discipline of history. By the end of the 1920’s the ranks of historians were filled with students graduating from BGU. The centers for research in the field of history became the Institute of Byelorussian Culture, established in 1922, and the departments of the university. Archaeological explorations were carried out. The archaeologists A. N. Liavdanskii, K. M. Polikarpovich, S. A. Dubinskii, I. A. Serbov, A. D. Kovalenia, S. S. Shutov, and others provided the first characterization of society within the territory of Byelorussia during the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages. Their excavations allowed them to study the daily life and culture of the Krivichi, Dregovichi, and Radimichi during the early feudal period.

In studying the socioeconomic phenomena of the feudal epoch, V. I. Picheta, M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’skii, A. V. Burdeiko, F. Zabello, and others revealed the characteristic traits of the landlord economy and small-scale production of goods; under the influence of M. N. Pokrovskii they exaggerated the role of trade capital. The history of the Byelorussian feudal cities was studied by V. D. Druzhchits, A. V. Burdeiko, F. Stepanov, and D. Dovgialo.

The antifeudal movement was elucidated in the works of V. K. Shcherbakov and I. F. Lochmel’.

Efforts to create general works on the history of Byelorussia were undertaken by V. M. Ignatovskii in 1924, V. I. Picheta in 1927, and V. K. Shcherbakov in 1934. Their outlines, however, covered principally the oldest period and the feudal epoch. Problems in the development of capitalism were studied by M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’skii, V. M. Ignatovskii, D. A. Dudkov, and K. I. Kernazhitskii. Dovnar-Zapol’skii asserted that shifts to a capitalist economy in Byelorussia became marked only at the beginning of the 20th century. Moreover, he and Ignatovskii denied the development of capitalism in agriculture. Dudkov and Kernazhitskii demonstrated that the formation of capitalism occurred in Byelorussia in the 19th century.

Along with the study of the problems of past history, work was begun and developed on the historical study of subject matter dealing with the revolution. The first works of V. G. Knorin, Revolution and Counterrevolution in Byelorussia (1920) and The Year 1917 in Byelorussia and on the Western Front (1925), S. Kh. Agurskii’s Outline History of the Revolutionary Movement in Byelorussia, 1863–1917 (1928), V. K. Shcherbakov’s The October Revolution in Byelorussia and the White Polish Occupation (1930), and A. I. Ziuz’kov’s The Bolsheviks as Organizers of the October Revolution in Byelorussia (1934) were published.

In the field of world history, studies were conducted on the complex problems of agriculture in Mesopotamia, religious cults in ancient Phoenicia, scientific criticism of the Bible (works by N. M. Nikol’skii), and the socioeconomic and ethnic structure of the society of ancient Prussia (works by V. N. Pertsev). The increase in the number of scholarly personnel led to a higher level of development of the discipline of history in Byelorussia during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The following important general works were published: A History of the Byelorussian SSR (vols. 1–2, 1961); An Outline History of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, part 1, 1883–1920 (1961), part 2, 1921–66 (1967); A History of Minsk (1957); and outline histories of Polotsk, Grodno, Mogilev, Orsha, and other cities of Byelorussia. Wide-ranging collections of articles (Antiquities of Byelorussia, 1966 and 1969) were published by Byelorussian archaeologists.

New conclusions were reached in studying the feudal epoch. The research of L. S. Abetsedarskii contains proof of the important role of Russo-Byelorussian economic ties in the historical destiny of the Byelorussian people. In the monographs of V. V. Chepko and Z. Iu. Konysskii and in the investigations of V. I. Meleshko, S. A. Shcherbakov, and A. M. Karpachev, the most important problems in the history of the feudal epoch have been studied, and the birth process of elements of capitalist production have been traced within the womb of feudalism. The theory created by bourgeois nationalist historiography of the “golden age” and “single current” was shown to be incorrect; it was demonstrated, furthermore, that the feudal and capitalistic epochs in Byelorussia knew all the typical traits of a class society. The socioeconomic history of capitalism in Byelorussia is examined in monographs by K. I. Shabun’, A. I. Kozhushkov, M. B. Fridman, and V. P. Paniutich. An elucidation in depth was provided for the social movement and the sociopolitical struggle on the eve of and during the course of the 1863 Uprising in Byelorussia by A. F. Smirnov’s studies Kaustas’ Kalinovskii and the 1863 Uprising (1959), Sigizmund Serakovskii (1959), and Revolutionary Ties Between the Peoples of Russia and Poland in the 1830’s Through the 1860’s (1962).

The class struggle by the workers and toiling peasantry is traced in the works of A. I. Voronova, V. V. Shatilo, L. P. Lipinskii and E. P. Luk’ianov, T. E. Solodkov, N. M. Meshkov, M. E. Shkliar and V. V. Skorobogatyi, and E. D. Direnko. Notable achievements were obtained in the field of world history—for example, monographs by F. M. Nechai, G. M. Livshits, and I. Dovgialo on the history of the ancient Orient, the process of the formation of ancient Roman society, and the sociopolitical struggle during the period of the empire. A leading position is occupied by research on recent and contemporary history. Studies are undertaken on the causes and forms of the social and political struggle at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th and on the national liberation movement.

Studies have been developed on the history of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Byelorussia (works by N. M. Ignatenko, V. G. Ivashin, I. I. Saladkov, and V. G. Gnevko and the anthology Victory of Soviet Power in Byelorussia, 1967). Other subjects of research are the Civil War and military intervention (publications by N. V. Kamenskaia, A. G. Khokhlov, and S. Z. Pochanin) and socialist and communist construction (the works of S. P. Margunskii, V. A. Milovanov, I. E. Marchenko, B. M. Fikh, P. P. Silivanchik, M. E. Shklar, and A. A. Filimonov and the anthology Communism Is Created by the Work of Millions, 1964).

The history of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) and the partisan struggle of the Byelorussian people during those years is represented by the works of I. S. Kravchenko, A. I. Zalesskii, P. P. Lipilo, V. F. Romanovskii, and others. There are many publications which compile the reminiscences of those who took part in this partisan struggle as well as collections of documents. Little-studied events are being disclosed concerning the revolutionary struggle in Western Byelorussia prior to its unification with the Byelorussian SSR (the anthology The Revolutionary Path of the Communist Party of Western Byelorussia (1921–1939), 1966; books by V. A. Poluian, A. N. Matsko, T. S. Gorbunov, and others).

Results of the development of science in the republic have been elucidated in the anthology Science in the Byelorussian SSR for the Past 50 Years (1968).


Economics. During the 18th century I. Khreptovich translated into Byelorussian A. R. J. Turgot’s book Reflectionson the Formation and Distribution of Wealth, and as a supplement to it he printed Discussions of Annual National Reproduction. The translator took the point of view of the physiocrats, who stressed the advantages of large-scale agricultural production. Among the Decembrists, the Byelorussian N. I. Gorbachevskii expressed progressive economic views, sharing the ideas of A. N. Radishchev and P. I. Pestel’ concerning the abolition of autocracy and serfdom. In Vitebsk in 1825 the Byelorussian Free Economic Society was organized, based on the model of the similar St. Petersburg group. A number of economic studies were written by professors of the Gory-Goretsk Agricultural Institute. From a bourgeois point of view, A. P. Liudogovskii developed the fundamentals of a science—the economics of agriculture. He emphasized that agricultural economy is not a technical but rather an economic science, connected with political economy. His principal work was Fundamentals of Agricultural Economy and Agricultural Bookkeeping (1875). In 1867, A. V. Sovetov defended his master’s dissertation, On Systems of Agriculture; he published a number of economic works, wherein he analyzed the problems of crop rotation, the development of agricultural cooperation and credit, and the specialization of production. He also defined Russia’s position in world agriculture. In 1883, I. A. Stebut published Articles on Russian Agriculture, Its Shortcomings, and Measures to Improve It. V. I. Lenin remarked that Stebut had perceived the link between the disintegration of the peasantry and the displacement of the corvée system by capitalism.

After the victory of the October Revolution the solution of the urgent problems of building up a national economy in Byelorussia came with development in the training of economic personnel. In 1926 the Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture and Forestry was opened; in 1930, the Institute of Labor Organization and Protection of the A11–Union Central Council of Trade Unions; and in 1931, the Economics Institute of the AN BSSR. In 1933 the Institute of the National Economy was created on the basis of the department of economics of BGU. During the 1920’s and 1930’s research was also conducted by the economists of Gosplan (State Planning Commission), the All-Union Council of the National Economy of the Byelorussian SSR, and other organizations. For the most part, problems were resolved concerning the formation and scientific development of socialist production; studies were also made on the problems of Byelorussian economics which had existed during the prerevolutionary period. The results of these investigations have been generalized in National Economy of Byelorussia, 1861–1917 (1926) by M. V. Dovnar-Zapol’skii, Industry of the Byelorussian SSR During the First Five-Year Plan (1932) by I. A. Petrovich, and Problems of the Greater Dnieper (1933) by T. F. Dombal’. Other economists working during this period included V. N. Lubiako (utilization of the energy resources of the BSSR), D. L. Zharinov (serfdom economy in Byelorussia), Ia. G. Rakov and S. N. Malinin (problems of the workers’ well-being, labor organization, and work rating), M. G. Matusevich (development of industry and socialist competition), I. T. Cherniavskii (problems of agricultural production), V. I. Perekhod (economic aspects of forestry), and A. I. Notkin (development of productive forces).

During the first few years after the Great Patriotic War, in conjunction with restoring the national economy, the attention of economists was concentrated on problems of the specific economics of various branches of the national economy; the history of the national economy was also developed. The anthology The Socialist National Economy of the Byelorussian SSR (1949) and S. N. Malinin’s book, The Development of Industry in the Byelorussian SSR (1948), were published.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s economic research in Byelorussia was considerably broadened. This trend was facilitated by the establishment of the Scientific Research Institute of Economics and Organization of Agricultural Production (1956), the Central Scientific Research Institute and the Planning and Technological Institute for the Organization and Techniques of Administration (1962), the Scientific Research Institute of Economics and Economic-Mathematical Methods of Planning attached to the Gosplan of the BSSR (1965). Agriculture research was broadened by the creation of branch scientific research institutes of the Ministry of Agriculture, oblast experimental stations, and so on.

From the study of individual questions Byelorussian economics made the transition to working out complex overall problems. Works on the problems of political economy include V. A. Tomashevich’s On the Economic Problems of the Transition From Socialism to Communism (1961); E. N. Landin’s Real Wages and Workers’ Incomes (1962); the anthologies The Stimulation of Work in a Socialist Society (1964), From a Socialist to a Communist Economy (1966), and Categories and Laws of the Distributive Relations of Socialism (1968); Z. Z. Dudich’s Economic Laws and Their Utilization in Building Communism (1965); the textbook Political Economy of Socialism (1967); and the research studies of F. V. Borovik, G. T. Kovalevskii, V. I. Mazur, and O. N. Pashkevich.

Special attention is being given to problems of increasing the effectiveness of public production, labor productivity, the rational disposition of productive forces, specialization, and cooperation. These problems in the field of industry are dealt with in the anthologies Ways of Increasing Labor Productivity in the Industry of the Byelorussian SSR (1957), Specialization and Cooperation in the Light Industry of the Byelorussian SSR (1961), Economics of the Peat Industry of the Byelorussian SSR (1961), Reserves of Labor Productivity and Reducing Production Costs in the Industry of the Byelorussian SSR (1964), Intraplant Accounting and Economic Management (1965), Effectiveness of Capital Investments and New Technology (1966), Technical Progress and Economic Problems (1969), Planning Profits on Wholesale Prices (1969), and Basic Industrial Funds Under Conditions of Economic Reform (1969). The research studies of N. I. Vedut—On the Economic Effectiveness of Capital Investments in Industry (1960), Economic Effectiveness of Modern Technology (1964), and others—also deal with these matters. The most important economic studies on agricultural production have been summed up in F. S. Martinkevich’s monograph Allocation and Specialization in the Agriculture of the Byelorussian SSR (1961), the anthologies Economic Problems in the Development of Agricultural Production (1969) and Methods of Determining the Optimum Structure of a Machine-Tractor Pool (1969), S. G. Ovsianikov’s Economic Analysis of the Activity of Agricultural Enterprises (1969), and others.

Fruitful studies have been carried out on the history of the Byelorussian national economy, including the anthologies The National Economy of the Byelorussian SSR During the Past 40 Years (1957), The Economics of Byelorussia During the Period of Imperialism (1963), Socialist Transformations in the Economy of Byelorussia, 1917–1930 (1966), The Economy of Byelorussia in the Building of Communism (1967), The Economy of Soviet Byelorussia, 1917–1967 (1967), and The Economic History of the Byelorussian SSR (1969).

Considerable work has been conducted on the use of mathematical economic methods in planning and forecasting, on the scientific organization of management, and on the rational utilization and economic effectiveness of organization techniques.


Law. Prior to the October Revolution in Byelorussia there was not a single law school or scientific research institution, nor was any research conducted on legal questions. During the first few years of Soviet power the department of law and economics was formed and included within the structure of BGU (opened in Minsk in 1921). Scholars at the university (V. I. Picheta, V. I. Durdenevskii, and others) laid the foundation for research studies on the history of the Byelorussian state and law; they undertook the attempt to provide a Marxist analysis of the most important Byelorussian landmarks of law and the legal institutions dating back to the period of feudalism. In 1929 the Scientific Research Institute of Juridical Expert Consultation was established. In 1931 the Institute of Soviet Construction and Law was formed (known since 1934 as the Minsk Juridical Institute); the Scientific Research Institute of Construction and Law was established and included within the AN BSSR; in 1935 it was combined with the academy’s Institute of Philosophy. After the Great Patriotic War the Minsk Juridical Institute was restored, and in 1954 it was included as a department within BGU. In that same year a law section was formed in the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the AN BSSR. A law faculty of the Higher School of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR opened in 1965 in Minsk; there are others in the republic.

In connection with the adoption of the resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU “On Measures for the Further Development of Juridical Scholarship and the Improvement of Legal Education in the Country” (1964), juridical scholars of the Byelorussian SSR conducted scientific research on problems of law, and the following anthologies appeared: Organs of State Administration of the Byelorussian SSR [1919–1967] (1968); Outline History of the State and Law of the Byelorussian SSR, vols. 1–2 (1958–69); Commentaries on the Criminal Code of the Byelorussian SSR (1966); and Commentaries on the Criminal Procedural Code of the Byelorussian SSR (1968). Monographs have been published on the history of the state and law of the USSR and the Byelorussian SSR (V. A. Dorogin, V. A. Krutalevich, S. P. Margunskii, I. N. Martinovich, and others) and on problems of Soviet state and administrative law (S. R. Vikharev, A. A. Golovko, S. G. Drobiazko, N. A. Kudinov, and Iu. V. Shabanov). A great number of scholarly works have been published on problems of civil, labor, and kolkhoz law (F. I. Gavze, D. F. Eremeev, S. V. Kurylev, G. A. Povet’ev, N. G. Iurkevich, V. F. Chigir’, and others). In order to increase the effectiveness of combating crime, studies have been undertaken on problems of criminal law, criminal trials, and criminology (works by S. P. Bekeshko, I. I. Gorelik, A. V. Dulov, M. A. Efimov, I. S. Tishkevich, V. A. Shkurko, and others); collective monographs include Soviet Society and the Strengthening of Law and Order (1961) and Prevention of Violations of the Law by Minors (1969). Considerable attention is being paid to research on the problems of international law and the state law of bourgeois states (M. M. Avakov, Iu. P. Brovka, G. G. Ternovaia).


Scientific institutions During the years of the prewar five-year plans and in the postwar period a multibranched network of scientific institutions was established. In 1940 there were 67 scientific institutions (including higher educational institutions), employing 2,227 scientific workers. In 1969 there were 176 scientific institutions functioning in Byelorussia (including higher educational institutions), and there were 20,631 scientific workers employed at these scientific and other organizations. (In 1950 there were 96 scientific institutions, including higher educational institutions, and 2,629 scientific workers; in 1960 there were 123 scientific institutions and 6,840 scientific workers.)

Among the republic’s scientific workers (as of Sept. 1, 1970) were 115 academicians and corresponding members, 383 doctors of sciences, and 5,012 candidates.

The republic’s scientific center is the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR, which comprises five divisions, 20 scientific research institutes, and a number of other scholarly institutions. The academy issues 11 periodical publications, including seven series of journals, Izvestiia AN BSSR (since 1940 printed in Byelorussian and Russian), the monthly Doklady AN BSSR (since 1957 in Russian), and the all-Union journals Inzhenerno-fizicheskii zhurnal (Journal of Engineering Physics; since 1958), Zhurnal prikladnoi spektroskopii (Journal of Applied Spectroscopy; since 1964), and Differentsial’nye uravneniia (Differential Equations; since 1965).


Navuka BSSR za 50 god. Minsk, 1968.
Kuprevich, V. F. Akademiia navuk Belarusskai SSR: Narys historyi i dzeinastsi. Minsk, 1958.
Akademiia nauk Belorusskoi SSR: Ocherk istorii i deiatel’nosti. Minsk, 1968.
Istoriia filosofii ν SSSR. Vol. 1: Moscow, 1968; chs. 8 and 15. Vol. 2: Moscow, 1968; ch. 21. Vol. 3: Moscow, 1968; ch. 18.
Iz istorii bor’by za rasprostranenie marksizma ν Belorussii. Minsk, 1958.
Marksistko-leninskaia filosofiia i sotsiologiia ν SSSR i evropeiskikh sotsialisticheskikh stranakh. Moscow, 1965.
Lushchytski, I. N. Narysy na historyi hramadska-palitychnai i filasofskai dumki u Belarusi u drugoi palavine XIX veku. Minsk, 1958.
Podokshin, S. A. Reformatsiia i obshchestvennaia mysl’ Belorussii i Litvy. Minsk, 1970.
Iz istorii flosofskoi i obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli Belorussii: Izbr. proizv. 16–nachala 19 v. Minsk, 1962.
Ocherki istorii marksistsko-leninskoi filosofi ν Belorussii 1919–1968. Minsk, 1968.

The foundation of Byelorussian book publishing was laid in the 16th century by Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina. During the years 1517–20 in Prague he published his translations into Byelorussian of the Bible, the Psalter, and other works. Skorina’s publications achieved a very high level of technical and artistic skill for that time. During the period of the Lithuanian-Polish domination, the culture of the Byelorussian people was ruthlessly suppressed. The unification of Byelorussia with Russia at the end of the 18th century was of progressive significance for the Byelorussian people. Under the autocracy, however, conditions were not favorable for the development of national culture. Prior to the October Revolution the periodical press in Byelorussia was represented by official newspapers, printed in Russian—for example, Vitebskskie gubernskie vedomosti (1838–1917), Minskie gubernskie vedomosti (1838–1917), Grodnenskie gubernskie vedomosti (1838–1915), and Mogilevskie gubernskie vedomosti (1838–1917)—and private and church publications.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th the social democratic organizations which had arisen in Byelorussia under the influence of the general Russian revolutionary movement distributed the Bolshevik newspapers Iskra, Vpered, Proletarii, Novaia zhizn’, Sotsialdemokrat, Zvezda, and Pravda. They issued proclamations, leaflets, and such illegal periodical publications as Polesskii listok (1904–05), Letuchii listok Polesskogo komiteta RSDRP (1905), Listok Severo-Zapadnogo soiuza (1905), Minskii letuchii listok (1905–06), Soldatskaia volia (1906), and Trud (1905–06). The first legal Bolshevik newspaper printed in Byelorussian was Nasha dolia; it began publication (in Vil’no) in 1906, but it was soon closed down. The Byelorussian publishing house Zagliane Sontsa i u Nasha Vakontsa (The Sun Will Shine Into Our Window, Too) was organized in St. Petersburg in 1906, and the Byelorussian publishing society Nasha Khata was founded in Vil’no in 1909.

After the February 1917 Revolution, newspapers of the soviets of workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ deputies began to appear in Minsk, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Mozyr’, Polotsk, Orsha, and other cities. The first legal mass-circulation Bolshevik newspaper in Byelorussia, Zvezda, began publication in Minsk on July 27 (Aug. 9), 1917. Its organizers and first editors were M. V. Frunze, A. F. Miasnikov, V. V. Fomin, and K. I. Lander. The Provisional Government closed down this newspaper several times, but it resumed publication under new names—Molot and Burevestnik. In December 1917 the newspaper Sovetskaia pravda began to be published in Minsk; it was the organ of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies of the Western Region and Front; a number of army newspapers were also established. In Mogilev, after the defeat of a counterrevolutionary uprising, the newspaper Revoliutsionnaia stavka (1917–19) was published. During the period of the German occupation the underground published the newspaper Podpol’naia pravda (1918) in Minsk and Nabat (1918) in Grodno; during the occupation of Byelorussia by the White Poles the underground Byelorusskaia pravda was published (1920). The first Soviet newspaper in Byelorussian was published in Petrograd, and later in Moscow, under the title Dziannitsa (The Morning Star).

With the establishment of Soviet power in Byelorussia, book and newspaper publishing attained a broad scope. In 1920 such newspapers began to appear as Savetskaia Belarus’ (Smolensk, Minsk), Polesskaia Pravda (Gomel’), and Krestian’skaia gazeta (Vitebsk); that year the State Publishing House of Byelorussia was created; subsequently, departmental publishing houses were founded. In 1922 the Byelorussian Division of ROSTA (Russian Telegraph Agency) was organized; since 1931 it has been known as BelTA (Byelorussian Telegraph Agency). In 1940 in Byelorussia, 252 newspapers were published with a press run of more than 1 million. During the years of the Great Patriotic War the occupation forces destroyed all of the republic’s printing plants; in the partisan underground, however, under the most difficult conditions, the publication of 162 newspapers was organized, including Zviazda (Star), Chyrvonaia zmena (Red Change), Partyzan Belarusi (Partisan of Byelorussia), Za Radzimu (For the Homeland), Paleskaia prauda (Poles’e Pravda), and Chyrvonaia zviazda (Red Star). After the liberation of Byelorussia the printing plants were completely restored.

In 1969 the republic’s publishing houses Belarus’, Zviazda, Polymia, Narodnaia Asveta, and others published 2,008 books and pamphlets with a circulation of more than 24 million; also issued were 83 journals and other continuing publications with a press run of 1,253,000 (and an annual circulation of 22.37 million); 180 newspapers were published (including 134 in Byelorussian) with a single circulation of 3,837,000 (and an annual circulation of more than 625 million).

During 1970 the following Byelorussian-language republic newspapers were published: Zviazda (Star, since 1917), Chyrvonaia zmena (Red Change, since 1921), Piianer Belarusi (Pioneer of Byelorussia, since 1929), Litaratura i mastatstva (Literature and Art, since 1932), Nastaunitskaia gazeta (Teachers’ Gazette, since 1945); the Russian-language papers included Sovetskaia Belorussiia (since 1927), Sel’skaia gazeta (since 1945), Znamia iunosti (since 1938), and Zor’ka (since 1945). Political, youth, literary, satirical, scientific, technical, and other journals include Vozhyk (Hedgehog, since 1941), Rabotnitsa i sialanka (Workingwoman and Peasant Woman, since 1924), Maladosts’ (Youth, since 1953), and Polymia (Flame, since 1922) in Byelorussian and Kommunist Belorussii (since 1927, until 1949 in Byelorussian) and Neman (since 1952) in Russian.

In 1925 the first radio broadcasts were initiated in Minsk, and the Minsk Television Center began operations in 1956. In 1969 the republic’s radio and television broadcast programs in Byelorussian and Russian over three radio stations and two television channels, as well as rebroadcasting programs from Moscow. Television studios in Gomel’, Brest, Vitebsk, and Grodno produce their own programs.


The many centuries of literary tradition among the Byelorussian people date back to the epoch of Kievan Rus’, where in the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th there was quite an intensive development of written literature. On the territory of present-day Byelorussia not only was there copying of many landmarks of church and secular literature, but original works were also created (for example, Kirill Turovskii’s Sermons). During the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, when Byelorussia was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Byelorussian language was used in state, diplomatic, and private correspondence, in the courts, town councils, and Magdeburg councils, such original works were created as the Lithuanian Metrics (14th-15th centuries) and three editions of the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1529, 1566, and 1588), which attained fame throughout Europe. During the 16th century the humanist and enlightened educator Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina was the first in the Eastern Slavic lands to organize the publication of printed books. In 1517–19 he published the books of the Bible in Byelorussian in the Czech city of Prague; subsequently, after moving his printing press to Vil’no, he published The Apostle and The Small Road Relay Book (1525). In his commentaries, prefaces, and epilogues Skorina explained the meanings of difficult words and terms; he valued the role of education highly and expressed patriotic feelings. His publications had a great influence on book printingin Byelorussia as well as beyond its borders.

A notable literary event of the second half of the 16th century was the publication in the living people’s language of the Gospels (c. 1570) by Vasilii Tiapinskii and the Catechism by Simon Budnyi. Polemical literature became widespread. Progressive opinions and the struggle against feudal, Catholic reactionism were expressed in the books, sermons, and speeches of Stefan and Lavrentii Zizanii, Leontii Karpovich, and Afanasii Filippovich and in the works of Meletii Smotritskii (in his early period). Attempts appeared at versification (Andrei Rymsha), memoirs (Diary by Fedor Evlashevskii; the Barkulabovsk Chronicle, 1563–1608), and satirical literature (Meleshka’s Speech, 17th century). A prominent representative of 17th-century literature was Simeon Polotskii, poet and playwright, who began his literary activity in Byelorussia.

In 1569 the Grand Duchy of Lithuania merged with Poland into a single state, the Rzecz Pospolita (Commonwealth). In 1696 the Polish Sejm (Parliament) prohibited the use of the Byelorussian language in institutions and schools. Books also ceased to be published in Byelorussian. Under such conditions the development of a written Byelorussian literature gradually came to a halt. The people’s spiritual life continued to be expressed primarily in the forms of oral folk poetry. From the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th the folk puppet theater known as batleika was widespread; during the 17th century the school theater was especially well developed, and it presented musical or dance interludes of folk origin.

A new stage in the development of literature was linked with the unification of Byelorussia with Russia at the end of the 18th century. Tsarism hindered the growth of national literatures, but progressive Russian culture always exercised a positive influence and facilitated the development of national self-awareness among the oppressed peoples. The creative work of Pavliuk Bagrim, a courageous poet-democrat of peasant origin who was drafted into the army for 25 years for “seditious” verses, can be judged only by one poem which has been preserved, “Strike Up a Tune, Strike Up a Tune, Little Peasant” (1829). Distributed in copies on a mass scale were two anonymous, parodie epic poems which have come down to us. These are the poems The Aeneid Turned Inside Out and Taras on Parnassus, which expressed the sharp wit, extraordinary folk humor, and everyday life of the Byelorussian serfs. The poem Taras on Parnassus praised progressive Russian writers (A. S. Pushkin and M. Iu. Lermontov) and ridiculed the reactionaries (F. V. Bulgarin and N. I. Grech). A definite role in the development of literature was played by the creative work of the representatives of what is called preromanticism (A. Rypinskii, la. Borshchevskii, and la. Chechot).

The middle of the 19th century was marked by the appearance of the poet and playwright V. Dunin-Martsinkevich, the author of the libretto for the opera An Idyll (1843, music by S. Moniuszko), the narrative poems Gapon (1854) and Khalimon at the Coronation (1857), and the comedies The Pinsk Aristocracy (1866) and The Matchmaking (1870). Realistic tendencies gradually grew stronger in his creative work. The serf in Dunin-Martsinkevich’s works emerged as the bearer of lofty moral qualities. An important literary phenomenon was the journalism of Kastus’ Kalinovskii, a leader in the peasant uprising of 1863. F. Bogushevich was a writer who consolidated realism in Byelorussian literature. As a poet-democrat, in his works (the collections The Byelorussian Pipe, 1891, and The Byelorussian Violin Bow, 1894, and the short story “Tralalenachka,” 1892), he strongly protested the arbitrary rule of landowners and officials; he defended the right of the Byelorussian people to develop their own native language, culture, and art. Other 19th-century writers were la. Luchina (I. Neslukhovskii), A. Gurinovich, and A. Abukhovich; their creative work distinctly expressed democratic ideas.

A new stage in the development of literature began with the Revolution of 1905–07. In 1906 in the town of Zholkva (now Nesterov) near L’vov, Tetka (A. Pashkevich) published two collections of poetry, Baptism into Freedom and The Byelorussian Violin, that sounded an open call to revolutionary uprising. The fullest aspirations and ideals of the Byelorussian people in the pre-October period were expressed by Ianka Kupala, Iakub Kolas, and Maksim Bogdanovich. Kupala’s books The Zhaleika (1908), The Psaltery Player (1910), and Along Life’s Path (1913) and plays Pavlinka (1913) and The Ravaged Nest (1913); Kolas’ books Songs of Sorrow (1910), Short Stories (1912), and Native Images (1914); and M. Bogdanovich’s collection The Garland (1913) bear convincing testimony to the literary victory of the principles of realism, populism, and democratism. Deep marks in the history of literature were left by Z. Biadulia (S. Plavnik), T. Gartnyi (Z. Zhilunovich), and M. Goretskii—writers of the democratic school. In 1915, M. Bogdanovich wrote: “During the eight or nine years of its actual existence our poetry has passed through all the main routes, and even some of the sidepaths, which European poetry has trod for more than a hundred years. From our poems one could easily draw up a ‘brief review course’ of European literary trends of the past century” (Sobr. soch., vol. 2, Minsk, 1968, p. 167).

With the victory of the October Revolution, which unleashed the people’s creative forces, a wide vista opened for the rapid and multifaceted development of Byelorussian literature. The initiators of Soviet literature were writers of the older generation, who had already begun their creative careers before the October Revolution, and the literary youth. Kupala, Kolas, Biadulia, Goretskii, and others entered Soviet literature with considerable, though not identical, experience in life and creative art. The participants in the Molodniak (Younger Generation) group (1923)—M. Charot, A. Aleksandrovich, V. Dubovka, P. Trus, A. Dudar, and others-began with komsomol enthusiasm to celebrate in song the new Soviet regime and the romanticism of the revolution.

During the 1920’s the foremost place was occupied by poetry devoted to the heroism of the Civil War and the revolution, the joy of victory, and the first growing shoots of the new life. The poetry of Charot was a hymn to the revolutionary people and to the indestructible friendship between the workers and peasants; his narrative poem The Barefoot Fire-Walkers (1921) was the first significant work concerning the events of the October Revolution and the Civil War. A broad popularity was gained by the timely fables of K. Krapiva. There was also bold development in prose fiction, primarily in the genre of the short story, and somewhat later, in that of the novella and the novel—for example, “In the Depths of Poles’e” (1927) by Kolas; “The Nightingale” by Biadulia (1927); the novels Sap of the Virgin Soil by Gartnyi (vols. 1–4, 1922–29), Paths and Roads by M. Zaretskii (1927), and Earth by K. Chernyi (1928); and short stories by M. Lyn’kov, P. Golovach, and others. The Byelorussian epic of the 1920’s was the artistic chronicle of the recent historical past, of the events of the Revolution and Civil War, as well as the consolidation of socialist reality. Its spirit lay in its poetization of the soldiers of the revolution and its glorification of man as a laborer; its uniqueness (with the exception of the profoundly realistic psychological works of Kolas and Chornyi) was its penchant for laying bare social conflict and for a sharp, contrastive quality in depicting the class struggle, along with its attraction for heightened emotion and verbal expressiveness.

More and more distinctly in the young Soviet Byelorussian literature there appeared a striving toward a broad depiction of the peaceful deeds of a victorious people, toward a greater degree of artistic concreteness, realistic simplicity, and a rhythmic natural quality. The poets of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, who sang about socialist labor and the structure of the kolkhoz, overcame an obviously declarative quality and strove for a realistic transmittal of events, facts, and observations. A unique, poetical piece of reporting was Kupala’s narrative poem Above the Oressa River (1933), which convincingly showed “how socialism moved into the region of the marshes.” After some time, Kupala as well as other poets would be able to create spiritually and emotionally rich images of their contemporaries. It was not by chance that P. Brovka called one of his best collections A Hero’s Arrival (1935). Rejecting any abstract feeling, poetry confidently drew nearer to a natural quality, excited by lyricism, and to the revelation of the process of man’s spiritual growth. Stages in this direction were Kupala’s so-called Levkovskii Cycle (“Alesia,” “Flax,” “The Guests,” and others) and The World of Youth (1939), a cycle of poems by A. Kuleshov.

Even greater success, especially in conceiving the people’s history and in depicting collectivization and the profoundly dramatic conflicts within the psyche of the peasantry, was achieved by prose—novellas such as Kolas’ The Renegade (1931) and S. Baranovyi’s Bounds (1930); novels such as Chornyi’s The Fatherland (1931) and The Third Generation (1935), Zaretskii’s The Straw Wisp (1932), and Golovach’s Through the Years (1934); and short stories such as those of Lyn’kov, E. Samuilenko, and B. Mikulich. Important social conflicts are resolved in these works by clashes between the characters and by complex, tormented struggles within the souls of the heroes. Similar tendencies were to be observed in drama as well. A special place is occupied by K. Krapiva’s play He Who Laughs Last (1939)—a vivid, satirical comedy which applies the lash to scoundrels and flatterers; within this genre it is one of the best works in Soviet literature.

During the 1930’s and 1940’s voices from the younger generation began to resound—those of P. Panchenko, A. Astreiko, A. Belevich, and others. After the liberation of Western Byelorussia the ranks of writers were filled with new forces—M. Tank, V. Tavlai, F. Pestrak, and others.

Civic spirit, historical optimism, and profound patriotism were the characteristic traits of literature during the time of the Great Patriotic War. Of great importance during these years were artistic journalism and satire—articles by Kupala, Kolas, and Lyn’kov; feuilletons by Chornyi; and satirical verses by Krapiva, P. Glebka, Astreiko, and others. Byelorussian poetry during those years was actively engaged and passionate, severely epic and yet permeated with lyrical force. The motifs of the heroism of the Soviet people and the tragedy of their native land, cemented by a unity of conception, resounded strongly in A. Kuleshov’s narrative poem The Brigade Banner (1942), wherein the hero’s fate reflected the fate of the people; a soldier’s personal drama was transformed into a drama of the homeland. Examples of civic, patriotic lyricism were created during these terrible years by Brovka, Tank, Glebka, Panchenko, and others. Chornyi’s novels The Milky Way (1943) and The Great Day (unfinished) are distinguished by their profound depiction of the conflict, penetration into the soldier’s spiritual world, philosophical meditations on the people’s future, and a striving to reflect the stark truth of the war.

The heroic epic of the people’s struggle against fascism also attracted the attention of Byelorussian writers during the postwar period. The vigor of this poetry (the verses and narrative poems by Tank, Panchenko, A. Veliugin, A. Pysin, M. Avramchik, and others) lies in its active assertion of life and the courageous victory over tragedy. In addition to short stories, Byelorussian prose writers created several important epic canvases on the war—for example, the novels Deep Current (1948) by I. Shamiakin, The Minsk Direction (1949–52) by I. Melezh, We Are Parting Not for Long (parts 1–2, 1953–1962) by A. Kulakovskii, and Unforgettable Days (vols. 1–4, 1951–58) by Lyn’kov. A historical theme—the theme of the struggle of the masses in the western regions of Byelorussia against the White Poles—was successfully developed by Kolas (the narrative poem The Fisherman’s Hut, 1947), by Pestrak (the novel We’ll Meet at the Barricades, vols. 1–2, 1951–54), and by Kuleshov (the narrative poem The Dread Thicket, 1956). In this period literature was concerned with the everyday work of the people, who were contributing to the country’s rebirth—for example, the verses of Tank, Panchenko, and Veliugin; the narrative poems of Kuleshov and Brovka; the novella by la. Bryl’ Dawn at Zabolot’e (1950); M. Posledovich’s novel Daylight Over Lipsk (1949–52); and A. Makaenok’s comedy Excuse Me, Please (1953).

During the mid-1950’s Byelorussian literature exhibited a distinct proclivity for a deeper understanding of history and contemporary life; characteristic of this trend was a heightened concern for moral and ethical problems, as well as for the heroic fate of the people. A. Chernyshevich’s The Malinovka Torture Chamber (1964), M. Loban’s On the Threshold of the Future (1961) and The Town of Ustron’ (1967–68), and I. Melezh’s People in the Marshes (1961) and The Breath of the Thunderstorm (1965) recreated in a historically reliable and artistically convincing manner events connected with the Russian Revolution of 1905–07, the October Revolution and Civil War, and the period of collectivization. Historical subject matter has been developed by V. Korotkevich. A profound, humanistic sense of purpose and direction marks the best works about the war—the novels of Shamiakin, I. Naumenko, Bryl’, A. Adamovich, A. Kulakovskii, and A. Osipenko; V. Bykov’s novellas, The Third Rocket and An Alpine Ballad; the novellas and short stories of V. Adamchik, I. Ptashnikov, B. Sachenko, M. Strel’tsov, I. Chigrinov, and others; and the documentary novellas of I. Novikov. Contemporary subject matter has been fruitfully developed by Brovka, Kuleshov, Tank, Dubovka, Panchenko, A. Rusetskii, la. Skrygan, S. Dergai, M. Luzhanin, Veliugin, A. Pysin, Shamiakin, Makaenok, Abramchik, V. Karpov, R. Borodulin, G. Buravkin, S. Grakhovskii, T. Khadkevich, R. Sobolenko, E. Los’, and many others. Working in the field of children’s literature are A. Iakimovich, V. Vitka, la. Beganskaia, V. Khomchenko, and others.

Together with writers from the fraternal republics, Byelorussian writers have developed a literature of socialist realism. Well-known in the sphere of criticism and literary scholarship are works by A. Adamovich, S. Aleksandrovich, V. Borisenko, G. Berezkin, D. Bugaev, Ia. Kazeko, V. Kolesnik, V. Kovalenko, M. Larchenko, Iu. Pshirkov, O. Loiko, A. Mal’dis, and S. Maikhrovich.

During the years of Soviet power works by Byelorussian writers have been translated into the languages of many peoples in the USSR and foreign countries. The best achievements of Byelorussian literature were translated into Russian by M. Isakovskii, A. Prokofev, A. Tvardovskii, E. Mozol’kov, Ia. Khelemskii, A. Ostrovskii, P. Kobzarevskii, M. Gorbachev, D. Kovalev, N. Braun, S. Gorodetskii, N. Gribachev, M. Komissarova, Vs. Rozhdestvenskii, N. Rylenkov, and others. By mid-1969, 125 books had been translated from Byelorussian in the Ukraine, 23 in Latvia, 22 in Lithuania, 15 in Estonia, 21 in Uzbekistan, and so on.

The Organizational Committee of the Union of Byelorussian Writers was created in June 1932; the First Congress of Writers was held in 1934.


Karskii, E. F. Belorussy, vol. 3, issues 1–3. Moscow-Petrograd, 1916–22.
Historyia belaruskai dakastrychnitskai litaratury, vols. 1–2. Minsk, 1968–69.
Historyia belaruskai savetskai litaratury, vols. 1–2. Minsk, 1965–66.
Barysenka, V. Frantsishak Bagushevich i problema realizmu u belaruskai litaratury XIX st. Minsk, 1957.
Larchanka, M. G. Na shliakhakh da realizma. Minsk, 1958.
Larchanka, M. G. Pa shliakhu realizma. Minsk, 1959.
Ivashin, V. U istokov sotsialistich. realizma. Minsk, 1963.
Perkin, N. Shliakhi razvitstsia belaruskai savetskai litaratury 20–30 gg. Minsk, 1960.
Pshyrkou, Iu. Belaruskaia savetskaia proza. Minsk, 1960.
Adamovich, A. Stanovlenie zhanra. Moscow, 1964.
Semianovich, A. Belaruskaia dramaturhiia (dakastrychnitski peryiad). Minsk, 1961.
Semianovich, A. Belaruskaia savetskaia dramaturhiia (1917–32). Minsk, 1968.
Piats’dzesiat chatyry darohi. Minsk, 1963.
Pra chas i pra siabe. Minsk, 1966.
Vatatsy, N. B. Mastatskaia litaratura Savetskai Belarusi (1917–1960): Bibliiahrafiia asobnykh vydanniau. Minsk, 1962.
Vatatsy, N. B. Belaruskae litaraturaznaustva i krytyka (1945–1963): Bibliiahrafiia asobnykh vydanniau. Minsk, 1964.
Vatatsy, N. B. Belaruskaia savetskaia dramaturhiia: Bibliohrafiia. Minsk, 1967.
Pis’menniki Savetskai Belarusi: Karotki biiabibliahrafichny davednik. Minsk, 1970.


The most ancient artistic landmarks on the territory of Byelorussia (figurines made of flint, ornamented ceramics, vestiges of pile structures, and so on) date back to the Stone Age. In the Early Iron Age (extending approximately from the fifth century B.C.) there appeared artifacts made of bronze and iron (plates, bracelets, pendants, clasps, woven sashes, and so on); small-scale clay plastic arts were widespread (figurines of animals); and housing structures were erected using wooden poles which supported thatched roofs and walls. Monuments of the art of the ancient Slavs found on the territory of Byelorussia date back to the first millennium A.D. From the tenth through the 13th centuries Byelorussia, which was then part of Kievan Rus’, became one of the sources for the development of Old Russian art. Properly speaking, the history of Byelorussian art, which assimilated in an original way the artistic experience of both Kievan Rus’ and Western Europe, began in the 14th century.

Medieval Byelorussian architecture had basically a defensive character. A city was usually located around or near a fortified castle; moreover, it was protected by a ring of defensive installations. Castles have been preserved in Lida (14th century), Novogrudok (14th-16th centuries), Mir (16th century), and Nesvizh (dating back to the 16th century). In addition to their religious function, a defensive role was also performed by the heavy massive buildings of Orthodox churches, Catholic churches, and Calvinist congregations. By the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, special types of church-fortresses (Maloe Mozheikovo and Synkovichi) had come into being as well as residence-fortresses (Gaitiunishki).

During the 17th and 18th centuries Byelorussian architecture developed baroque tendencies; the conveyers of this style were various Catholic orders. Among the best monuments of the baroque on Byelorussian territory are the Jesuit churches at Nesvizh (founded in 1584, architect G. M. Bernardoni of Como) and Grodno (consecrated in 1667), the Church of the Carmelites at Glubokii (1735), the Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk (11th century, rebuilt by 1750).

Byelorussian painting had already acquired original traits in its earliest days. In contrast to the idealized type of saint, characteristic and Kiev, the of the painting of Byzantium Byelorussian icon and book miniature gave the saint traits of the simple people, and he was accorded rather coarse features. The Byelorussian masters readily introduced ornamental elements into their painting, decorating the halos and clothing of the saints with various designs, transforming the backgrounds of the icons into carved, gilded fields, and in certain instances replacing the depiction of the saint’s clothing with a carved, wooden bracket. Medieval Byelorussian books, as a rule, were decorated with ornamental illuminations. Among the best Byelorussian miniatures are the Mstizhsk Gospels and the Orshansk Gospels (both 14th century). Almost no large-scale painting of the medieval period in Byelorussia has been preserved.

In the 16th century Byelorussian painting gradually turned toward the realism of the new age: in place of the flat-plane icon faces, three-dimensional depiction of human faces came to be used (for example, the icon Paraskeva Friday, Art Museum of the BSSR, Minsk). In 17th-century icon painting elements of genre painting and spatial perspectives appeared. During the 17th and 18th centuries portrait painting began to be developed.

During the Middle Ages, Byelorussia attained a high level of sculpture, after experiencing some influence from the romanesque and gothic plastic arts of Central Europe, and subsequently the influence of the baroque. Wooden statues, as well as carved altarpieces, played an important role in furnishing the interiors of Byelorussian cathedrals. During the time of the Polish-Russian War of 1654–67 many Byelorussian sculptors and woodcarvers (for example, the Elders Ippolit and Arsenii, Klim Mikhailov, and Gerasim Okulov) moved to the Russian state, where they created quite a few expressive works (for example, the works of the Elder Ippolit in the Moscow Kremlin: Nikola Mozhaiskii in the Church of Nikola Gostunskii and the Crucifixion in the Terem Palace). Executed in the style called Byelorussian carving was the iconostasis of the Smolensk Cathedral in the Novodevich’e Convent in Moscow (Klim Mikhailov and others) and the decorations for the palace at Kolomensk.

During the 16th century, with the appearance of western Russian book printing, Byelorussian engraving began to be developed—for example, the woodcuts in the publications of Frantsisk (Georgii) Skorina, Petr Mstislavets, and Ivan Fedorov. It underwent a new upswing at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th—for example, the woodcuts and copper engravings in the publications of Maksim Voshchanka, wherein the publisher himself, his son Vasilii, Fedor Angileiko, and others did the engravings.

A notable place among the artistic crafts of 14th—18th-century Byelorussia was occupied by ceramics (including ceramic sculpture; S. I. Polubes and others), embroidery, and jewelry. Wide fame was enjoyed by the so-called Slutsk sashes (18th century), which were interwoven with gold and silver threads.

After the unification of Byelorussia with Russia the paths of Russian and Byelorussian art merged to a considerable degree. Many Byelorussian artists (the portrait painter V. Van’kovich, the landscape painters A. G. and I. G. Goravskii, and others) attended courses at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. During the 19th and 20th centuries the creative activity of emigrants from Byelorussia—the painters S. K. Zarianko, I. T. Khrutskii, and V. K. Bialynitskii-Birulia; the mosaic artist N. Iu. Silivanovich, and others—was closely linked with St. Petersburg and Moscow. Working in turn in Byelorussia were the prominent Russian classicist architects N. A. L’vov, who built St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Mogilev (1798; not preserved), and A. I. Mel’nikov, who built the seminary in Minsk. Of enormous importance for the growth of Byelorussian cities was their redesign according to a precise and regular system, in accordance with the classical principles of urban construction, which were introduced by the Russian government at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. During this redesigning the old city defenses, which had hindered the growth of the cities, were destroyed. During the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Byelorussian architecture along with progress in construction technology exhibited distinctly marked traits of aesthetic decline, common for the architecture of capitalist countries during that period. Byelorussian art, as well as Russian art, at this time entered upon the path of critical realism. Realistic works were created by Iu. M. Pen (scenes from the everyday life of poor people, portraits, and landscapes) and la. M. Kruger (portraits of the democratic intelligentsia; the painting Pogrom, c. 1905). Under the conditions of tsarism and of the great-power yoke, however, the development of a national Byelorussian culture was retarded to a considerable degree.

The genuine flowering of culture and art of the Byelorussian people came during the years of Soviet power. The industrialization of the country during the period of the early five-year plans brought the headlong growth of cities. In connection with this a redesigning was undertaken that essentially changed their appearance. New streets were laid out in cities, measures were taken for the people’s well-being, and modern construction began to crowd out the older buildings, especially those made of wood. During the prewar years a number of buildings were erected in Byelorussian cities that were important in an architectural and artistic regard, including the V. I. Lenin Library (1930–32; architect, G. L. Lavrov), the Government House of the BSSR (1930–33; architect, I. G. Langbard), and the building of the Central Committee of the CP of Byelorussia (1940–41, completely finished in 1947; architects, A. P. Voinov and V. N. Varaksin), all in Minsk, and the Hall of the Soviets in Mogilev (1938–39; architect, I. G. Langbard).

During the 1920’s and 1930’s quite a few successes were achieved, and the art of Soviet Byelorussia entered upon the path of socialist realism. The history of the struggle of the Byelorussian people for freedom and independence and its present-day heroic labor are the principal themes to which the artists of Byelorussia turned their attention. During the Soviet period in Byelorussia a number of talented masters came to the fore—for example, the painters V. V. Volkov (portraitist and genre and historical painter), I. O. Akhremchik (portraitist, landscape artist, and historical and monumental painter), E. A. Zaitsev (historical painter, landscape artist, and portraitist), K. M. Kosmachev (historical painter); the sculptors A. V. Grabe (free-standing compositions, reliefs, and monuments), M. A. Kerzin (a prominent art teacher), A. M. Brazer (portrait sculptor), Z. I. Azgur (portrait and monument sculptor), A. O. Bembel’ (portrait and monument sculptor), A. K. Glebov (portrait and monument sculptor; creator of free-standing compositions); and the theater artists O. P. Mariks and S. F. Nikolaev.

During the years of the Great Patriotic War, Byelorussian artists did not cease their creative activity. In active service in the army, in partisan detachments, or in evacuated areas, they created a unique artistic chronicle of the people’s heroic struggle.

During the postwar years Byelorussian architects performed an enormous amount of work in eliminating the destruction caused by the fascists to the cities and villages of Byelorussia. New general plans were drawn up for all major centers of population. Within a short time the cities and villages of Byelorussia were in fact rebuilt. Minsk, in which 74 percent of the housing facilities had been destroyed during the occupation years, was completely transformed. Created in the center of the city were several architectural complexes (ensembles of the Lenin, Central, Victory, and Iakub Kolas squares), alternating with row construction and connected together by Lenin Prospect. Several resolutions of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers dealing with problems of construction had a favorable effect on the development of Byelorussian architecture. These resolutions were “Measures for Further Industrialization, Quality Improvement, and Cost Reduction in Construction,” dated Aug. 23, 1955; “Measures to Ensure the Growth of Production of Structural Components, Parts, and Materials to Be Used in Construction,” dated Aug. 24, 1955; and “Eliminating Excesses in Design and Construction,” dated Nov. 4, 1955.

The second half of the 1950’s witnessed a complete restructuring of the material and technical base of construction; its tempos increased, industrial methods were implemented on a wide scale, and complex units for housing construction were put into operation. Since the early 1960’s the construction of large-panel apartment houses has been proceeding on a wide scale, together with improved planning of the apartments themselves. A remarkable share of the construction of apartment houses is being accomplished with the use of modular elements. The search continues for es-thetically expressive, contemporary architectural forms and design principles. Among the most successful architectural achievements of the 1960’s are the building of the Municipal Executive Committee (1964; architects, S. S. Musinskii and G. V. Sysoev), the Palace of Sports (1966; architects, S. D. Filimonov and V. N. Malyshev), the mass housing complex on Tolbukhin Street (1966; architect, Iu. V. Shpit), the Iubileinaia Hotel (1968; architect, G. M. Benediktov), and the Lenin Prospect ensemble (G. P. Badanov, M. O. Barshch, S. B. Botkovskii, A. P. Voinov, V. A. Korol’, S. S. Musinskii, M. P. Parusnikov, G. V. Sysoev, N. E. Trakhtenberg, N. A. E. Shpigel’man), all in Minsk; the Burial Mound of Glory at the 21st km of the Moscow Highway near Minsk (1969; sculptor, A. O. Bembel’; architect, O. A. Stakhovich); and the Khatyn’ memorial complex (1968–69; architects, Iu. M. Gradov, V. P. Zankovich, and L. M. Levin; sculptor, S. I. Selikhanov). Under conditions of intensive industrial growth and rapid scientific and technical progress during the 1960’s new cities sprang up within the republic: Svetlogorsk, Zhodino, Novopolotsk, and Soligorsk.

Byelorussian art of the postwar period, especially from about 1955 through the 1960’s, has been characterized by a great diversity of creative trends. The principal characteristics of Byelorussian art during the past few years have been concentration by the artists on the most essential aspects of the history and present-day life of the Byelorussian people; a striving for terseness, depth of character, and the rhythmically expressive; and energetic decorativism and composition. A number of new names have made their appearance among the republic’s foremost artists: the painters V. K. Tsvirko (landscape artist and historical painter), V. P. Sukhoverkhov (historical painter and portraitist), A. D. Shibnev (historical painter), R. V. Kudrevich (genre painter), N. M. Voronov (historical painter), M. A. Savitskii (genre and historical painter), and M. V. Dantsig (landscape artist and historical painter); the graphic artists A. M. Kash-kurevich (master of engraving), G. G. and N. N. Poplavskii, and E. G. Los’ (masters of engraving and book illustration); the sculptors S. I. Selikhanov (monumental sculpture), L. N. Gumilevskii (free-standing compositions), P. K. Belousov (portrait sculptor), G. I. Muromtsev (free-standing compositions), and A. M. Zaspitskii (free-standing compositions); and the theater artists E. G. Chemodurov and P. V. Mas-lenikov. Active and fruitful quests for contemporary forms are being carried out in the decorative arts of Byelorussia (particularly in the field of the artistic use of glass).

In Minsk the Union of Byelorussian Architects was founded in 1935, and the Union of Byelorussian Artists in 1938. (The organizational committee had been created in 1932.)


Sidorova, A. A. Drevnerusskaia knizhnaia graviura. Moscow, 1951.
Egorov, Iu. A. Gradostroitel’stvo Belorussii. Moscow, 1954.
[Gerasimovich, P. N., and P. P. Nikiforov.] Izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo Belorusskoi SSR. Moscow, 1957.
Katser, M. S., and V. M. Makarevich. “Iskusstvo Belorussii 14–17 vekov.” In Vseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vol. 2, book 1. Moscow, 1960.
Orlova, M. Iskusstvo Sovetskoi Belorussii. Moscow, 1960.
Prokof’ev, O. S. “Iskusstvo Belorussii [18 v].” In Vseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Vsesoiuznaia iubileinaia khudozhestvennaia vystavka “50 let Sovetskoi vlasti”: Ukrainskaia SSR, Belorusskaia SSR, Moldavskaia SSR. (Catalog.) [Moscow, 1967.]
Arkhitektura Rossii, Ukrainy i Belorussii, XIV-pervaia polovina XIX vv. (Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 6.) Moscow, 1968.
Pan’shina, I. N. Iskusstvo Sovetskoi Belorussii. Minsk, 1968.
Elatomtseva, I. Khudozhestvennaia keramika Sovetskoi Belorussii. Minsk, 1966.
Elatomtseva, I. Monumental’naia letopis’ epokhi. Minsk, 1969.
Chanturiia, V. A. Istoriia arkhitektury Belorussii: Dooktiabr’skii period. Minsk, 1969.
Chanturiia, V. A., and I. B. Elentukh. Pamiatniki zodchestva Belorussii: Kratkii putevoditel’. Minsk, 1969.
Shchakatsikhin, M. “Hraviurv i knizhnyia azdoby u vydan’niakh Frantsishka Skaryny.” In the collection Chatyrokhsotlets’tse belaruskaha druku, 1525–1925. Minsk, 1926.
[Baryshau, G. I.] Teatral’na-dekaratsyinae mastatstva Savetskai Belarusi. [Minsk,] 1958.
Katsar, M. S. Narysy pa gistoryi vyiaulenchaga mastatstva Savetskai Belarusi. Minsk, 1960.
Iakunina, L. I. Slutskiia paiasy. Minsk, 1960.

The art of Byelorussian folk music reveals close interrelated ties with the folk music of Russians and Ukrainians, as well as of the western and southern Slavs. A central place among the old songs is held by calendar songs (Christmas carols; songs for spring festivals— vesnianki and shche-drovki; congratulatory incantations; and songs for St. George’s Day, Trinity Day, St. John’s Day, harvest, mowing, and autumn) and family-ceremonial songs (songs for weddings and baptisms, lullabies, and ritual lamentations). There is a wide representation of songs for round dances and games, as well as songs for other folk dances and merrymaking. Lyric songs are subdivided into many groups according to genres and subject matter: love songs; ballads; cossack, recruiting, and soldiers’ songs; and songs about the peasants’ freedom movement.

The old folk songs are performed basically in unison. They are distinguished by their narrow melodic range, well-developed ornamentation, rhythmic flexibility, and richness and variety of performing devices. Polyphony in Byelorussian folk songs has been intensively developed since the last third of the 19th century. There is widespread use of singing with a podvodka—a high solo voice contrasted with the principal melody sung by the lower voices. A definite influence on the melodic quality of Byelorussian folk songs was exercised by Russian revolutionary workers’ songs from the beginning of the 20th century. During the period of Soviet power new folk songs have appeared; these develop and renew traditions, and they derive their content from present-day life. Songs in everyday life are performed without accompaniment, with the exception of joking songs and chastushki, which are sung to the accompaniment of a concertina (baian).

Byelorussian folk dance melodies are mostly two-part and unfold at a rapid tempo. Some reflect work processes (Lenok, Bul’ba) or man’s relationship to the nature around him (Metelitsa, Charot); many dances tell a story (Iurochka, Liavonikha, and Pol’ka-Ianka). Among Byelorussian folk instruments that customarily accompany these dances are the concertina, baian, violin, cymbals, tambourine, and small drum; also employed are the dudka and the zhaleika. Ensembles of folk instruments have become widespread, usually consisting of cymbals, concertina, and tambourine or violin, concertina, and tambourine. Frequently a dudka or clarinet is added. A traditional instrument in folk ensembles was the folk cello, or basetlia, which has now almost completely dropped out of use in performances. The duda and the lyre, which had been especially popular in the past, had begun disappearing by the end of the 19th century. Prerevolutionary Byelorussian theater constantly introduced songs, dances, and instrumental music.

The October Revolution and the formation of the BSSR created the conditions for the development of a professional national musical art. In Minsk, the Byelorussian Musical Technicum opened in 1924; the Byelorussian Conservatory in 1932; the Byelorussian Theater of Opera and Ballet (based on the State Studio of Opera and Ballet, founded in 1930) in 1933; and the Byelorussian Philharmonic in 1937. The philharmonic combined symphony orchestra, the Orchestra of Byelorussian Folk Instruments, a choral group, the Byelorussian Ensemble of Folk Song and Dance, vocal and string quartets, and a group of soloists. In 1940 the Byelorussian Ensemble was created under the direction of G. R. Shirma; it was reorganized in 1955 as the State Choral Group.

The first examples of Byelorussian professional music date back to the 1920’s. Its foundation was laid by several composers: N. N. Churkin (the opera The Liberation of Labor, 1922; a symphonette, 1925; and songs and art songs), N. I. Aladov (the comic opera Taras on Parnassus, 1927; the cantata Ten Years, 1927; a piano quintet, 1925; and cycles of art songs), E. K. Tikhotskii (First Symphony, 1929; the musical comedy The Sacred Kitchen, 1931), and G. K. Pukst and A. E. Turenkov (popular songs).

The 1930’s saw the appearance of symphonic works by N. I. Aladov (his symphonette, a vivid example of Byelorussian genre symphonic music), A. E. Turenkov, and the Russian composer V. A. Zolatarev, who was working in Minsk. Important among the vocal-symphonic works of those years was a cantata, Tale About the Great She-Bear by A. V. Bogatyrev, and among chamber-instrumental works, the piano and violin pieces of A. K. Klumov. In song, fruitful work was accomplished by S. V. Polonskii, V. A. Efimov, N. F. Sokolovskii, and I. I. Liuban, whose song “Farewell” gained popularity throughout the Soviet Union. An outstanding event in the cultural life of the republic was the staging by the Byelorussian Theater of Opera and Ballet of E. K. Tikhotskii’s opera Mikhas’ Podgornyi (1939) and of In the Dense Forests of Poles’e by A. V. Bogatyrev (1939), The Flower of Happiness by A. E. Turenkov (1940), and the first Byelorussian ballet, The Nightingale by M. E. Kroshner (1939); these works laid the foundation for a national repertoire. All of these productions were shown successfully in Moscow during the first decade of Byelorussian art and literature (1940).

During the years of the Great Patriotic War the principal theme of the creative work of Byelorussian composers was the heroic struggle of the Soviet people against the fascist invaders. In addition to numerous songs dedicated to this theme were A. V. Bogatyrev’s cantatas, The People of Leningrad and To the Byelorussian Partisans, N. I. Aladov’s symphonic ballad During the Grim Days, and E. K. Tikhotskii’s opera Alesia (staged in 1944). During the years of Byelorussia’s occupation, members of the Byelorussian Theater of Opera and Ballet worked in brigades at the front and appeared in cities of the fraternal republics; during the season of 1943–44 the theater functioned in Kovrov; and in the autumn of 1944 it returned to liberated Minsk. The Ensemble of Song and Dance went on tour throughout Byelorussia.

During the postwar years the activity of all musical groups and institutions was renewed. Operatic composition during these years was closely linked with the heroic-patriotic theme—for example, Kastus’ Kalinovskii by D. A. Lukas, staged in 1947; Andrei Kostenia by N. I. Aladov (1948), staged in 1970; The Girl from Poles’e by E. K. Tikhotskii, based on material from the opera Alesia, staged in 1952; the first opera for children, Marinka by G. K. Pukst, staged in 1955; Nadezhda Durova by A. V. Bogatyrev, staged in 1956; and Clear Dawn by A. E. Turenkov, staged in 1958. The ballet repertoire was supplemented by V. A. Zolotarev (The Prince-Lake, staged in 1949) and G. M. Vagner (The Substitute Bride, staged in 1958). Socially significant subject matter was revealed in many vocal-symphonic and programmatic symphonic works—for example, the cantatas Forty Years by N. I. Aladov, Byelorussia by A. V. Bogatyrev, The Steppe Fields by I. I. Kuznetsov, the vocal-symphonic poem The Eternally Living by G. M. Vagner, and the symphonic poem A Genuine Partisan Story by V. V. Olovnikov.

The symphonic genre, which had been weakly represented in Byelorussian music, was greatly developed (N. I. Aladov, A. V. Bogatyrev, P. P. Podkovyrev, G. K. Pukst, and E. K. Tikhotskii; and in the late 1950’s, also by the young composers E. A. Glebov and V. I. Cherednichenko). The instrumental concerto was also developed (D. R. Kaminskii, who first used cymbals as a concert instrument on a par with the piano, violin, and cello; P. P. Podkovyrov; and E. M. Tyr-mand). Working in the field of chamber instrumental and vocal music were L. M. Abeliovich, A. V. Bogatyrev, D. A. Lukas, P. P. Podkovyrov, and G. K. Pukst; and in the field of song, D. A. Lukas, V. V. Olovnikov, P. P. Podkovyrov, Iu. V. Semeniako, N. F. Sokolovskii (who composed the music for the national anthem of the BSSR), and others.

During the 1960’s the Byelorussian Theater of Opera and Ballet staged the comic operas A Thorny Rose and When the Leaves Fall by Iu. V. Semeniako and the ballets Dream, Alpine Ballad, and The Chosen Girl by E. A. Glebov and Light and Shadow by G. M. Vagner; most of these works are contemporary in their subject matter. The first attempt at creating a television opera was made by G. M. Vagner (Morning, 1967). In all genres of Byelorussian music, with the exception of stage music, there was active participation by the new generation of composers (R. P. Butvilovskii, S. A. Kortes, I. M. Luchenok. D. B. Smol’skii, K. D. Tesa-kov, and O. G. Ianchenko). An attention to content and variety of genres has marked the vocal-symphonic music of this period (the cantata Byelorussian Songs and Monologue on V. I. Lenin for Bass and Orchestra by A. V. Bogatyrev, the oratorio The Bells and the Concerto for Voice and Orchestra by E. A. Glebov, the vocal-symphonic poem Ashes by S. A. Kortes, and others). A striving to display vitally urgent themes on a generalized philosophical level is characteristic of the symphonies by L. M. Abeliovich, N. I. Aladov, and E. A. Glebov. Broadly represented during this period has been the genre of the instrumental concerto (A. V. Bogatyrev, R. P. Butvilovskii, G. M. Vagner, D. R. Kaminskii, S. A. Kortes, and O. G. Ianchenko). Outstanding among chamber works are the instrumental ensembles of N. I. Aladov and D. R. Kaminskii and the song cycles by E. M. Tyrmand and D. B. Smol’skii. A. V. Bogatyrev and E. M. Tyrmand are masters of choral music. The songs of I. M. Luchenko have gained popularity within the republic and beyond its borders. There has been an increased interest on the part of Byelorussian composers in estrada (variety stage) and motion picture music. Byelorussian musicologists and folklorists include T. A. Dubkova, V. I. Elatov, A. B. Ladygina, L. S. Mukharinskaia, I. G. and S. G. Nisnevich, B. S. Smol’skii, G. I. Tsitovich, G. R. Shirma, T. A. Shcherbakova, and others. Among Byelorussian singers are People’s Artists of the USSR L. P. Aleksandrovskaia and T. N. Nizhnikova and People’s Artists of the BSSR L. F. Alekseeva, A. D. Arsenko, Z. I. Babii, I. M. Bolotin, L. F. Brazhnik, V. F. Volchanetskaia, L. I. Galushkina, A. M. Generalov, V. I. Glushakov, M. I. Denisov, S. Iu. Druker, M. A. Ziuvanov, V. M. Mal’kova, R. V. Mlodek, I. P. Saikov, N. N. Serdobov, I. D. Sorokin, V. M. Chernobaev, and T. I. Shimko; among conductors—People’s Artists of the BSSR T. M. Kolomiitseva, and L. V. Liubimov, Honored Artists of the BSSR I. S. Abramis, I. A. Gitarts, and M. E. Shneiderman; and among the cymbalists—Honored Artists of the BSSR V. A. Burkovich, S. M. Novitskii, A. A. Os-trometskii, and Kh. I. Shmel’kin.

Byelorussia has the State Symphony Orchestra (principal conductor, Honored Artist of the BSSR V. V. Kataev), the State Orchestra of Folk Instruments (artistic director, People’s Artist of the USSR 1.1. Zhinovich), the State Academic Chorus Capella (artistic director, People’s Artist of the USSR G. R. Shirma), the State Folk Chorus (founded in 1952, artistic director, People’s Artist of the USSR G. I. Tsitovich), the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Byelorussian Military District (since 1938), the Chamber Orchestra of the Byelorussian Philharmonic (since 1968), the Concert and Estrada Orchestra (since 1958), the Chorus of Byelorussian Radio and Television (since 1946), ten music colleges, and a network of music schools, including a secondary specialized music school attached to a conservatory. The Scientific Research Institute of Art Studies, Ethnography, and Folklore of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR (formed in 1957) has a music department. In 1938 the Union of Byelorussian Composers was founded. (During the years 1932–38 there was a composers’ section attached to the Union of Byelorussian Writers.)


Beliaev, V. Belorusskaia narodnaia muzyka. Leningrad, 1941.
Elatov, V. I. Ladovye osnovy belorusskoi narodnoi muzyki. Minsk, 1964.
Elatov, V. I. Ritmicheskie osnovy belorusskoi narodnoi muzyki. Minsk, 1966.
Tsitovich, G., and I. Nisnevich. Belorusskaia SSR. Moscow, 1958. (Muzyka’naia kul’tura soiuznykh respublik.)
Nisnevich, S. G. Belorusskaia simfonicheskaia muzyka. Minsk, 1959.
Smol’skii, B. S. Belorusskii muzykal’nyi teatr. Minsk, 1963.
Zhuravlev, D. N. Kompozitory Sovetskoi Belorussii. Minsk, 1966.
Nisnevich, I., and S. Nisnevich. Ocherki po istorii sovetskoi belorusskoi muzykal’noi kul’tury, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1969.
Kuleshova, G. G. Belorusskaia sovetskaia opera. Minsk, 1967.


The sources of Byelorussian dance have their origin in ancient Slavic games, certain elements of which, during the period when the Byelorussian nationality was being formed, were composed of various folk dances. (To this day many dances are performed in conjunction with games and songs.) The Byelorussian dances are diverse in both subject matter and form. They bear about a hundred names and reflect many aspects of the people’s life; they are rich in compositional outlines and dance rhythms, and their mood is one of a joyfulness in life. The prevailing musical measure is two-beat, and the arrangement of the dancers is in pairs or in groups; solo dances are rare. The basis of the Byelorussian dance lexicon is composed of small-scale movements by the partners (alternating steps, pas-de-Basque, galops, stamping, and others). The women’s dancing is not essentially different from that of the men; the only exceptions are the squat dancing and the high leaps, which are performed only by the men. The most popular Byelorussian dances are the Liavonikha, Metelitsa, Iurochka, Kryzhachok, Mikita, Tol-kachiki, the Podushechka round dance, and local variants of the polka, the quadrille, and so on.

The Byelorussian folk dance was first introduced onto the stage in the Byelorussian comic opera An Idyll by S. Mo-niushko (libretto by V. I. Dunin-Martsinkevich, staged in 1852). At the beginning of the 20th century Byelorussian folk dances were part of the performances of the I. T. Buinitskii Troupe. Professional dance groups were formed only during the Soviet period—for example, the Byelorussian Folk Song and Dance Ensemble in Minsk (1937), and the Byelorussian Song and Dance Ensemble in Belostok (1940). As of 1970, Byelorussia had the State Dance Ensemble of the BSSR (established in 1959), the State Folk Chorus of the BSSR (organized in 1952), and several amateur folk dance ensembles.

The first professional performers of folk dances were the skomorokhi (12th century). During the 18th century and the first half of the 19th serf theaters with Byelorussian dancers operated on estates and in several cities (Nesvizh, Grodno, Slonim, and Shklov).

Professional ballet theater came into being in Byelorussia after the October Revolution. In 1920 the first Byelorussian Dramatic Theater opened in Minsk (it is now known as the Ianko Kupala Byelorussian Theater); it had a rather small ballet troupe (directed by the ballet master K. A. Alek-siutovich). The State Studio of Opera and Ballet was established in Minsk in 1930; it was reorganized in 1933 as the Byelorussian Theater of Opera and Ballet. The Red Poppy by R. M. Glière (1933), Coppelia by L. Delibes (1935), Swan Lake by P. I. Tchaikovsky (1938), and others were produced. In 1939 the ballet master A. N. Ermolaev staged the first national ballet, M. E. Kroshner’s The Nightingale: the innovative choreography of this ballet vividly expressed the theme of the Byelorussian peasantry’s struggle for freedom. In the lexicon of The Nightingale classical dance and folk choreography were merged into a single entity.

Byelorussian folk choreography was extensively utilized in one of the best national ballets, The Prince-Lake by V. A. Zolotarev (1949), and in The Substitute Bride by G. M. Vag-ner (1958), among others. E. A. Glebov’s Dream, a Byelorussian ballet on a contemporary theme, was produced in 1961; G. M. Vagner’s Light and Shadow in 1963; E. A. Glebov’s one-act ballet, Alpine Ballad, in 1967; and his ballet The Chosen Girl in 1969.

The theater’s repertoire included Giselle by A. Adam (1953), Swan Lake (1948, 1967), Sleeping Beauty (1954) and The Nutcracker (1956) by P. I. Tchaikovsky, The Path of Thunder by K. Karaev (1960), Don Quixote by L. F. Minkus (1962), Spartacus by A. I. Khachaturian (1964), and Cinderella (1965) and Romeo and Juliet (1968) by S. S. Prokofiev.

The theater’s ballet troupe has included People’s Artist of the BSSR A. V. Nikolaeva, Z. A. Vasil’eva, S. V. Drechin, L. M. Riazhenova, V. I. Krikova, V. P. Mironov, and N. K. Shekhov; Honored Artists of the BSSR N. F. Mlodzin-skaia, B. Z. Karpilova, E. M. Glinskikh, and others; ballet masters have included People’s Artist of the USSR and the BSSR A. N. Ermolaev, People’s Artist of the RSFSR F. V. Lopukhov, and Honored Artists of the BSSR K. A. Muller and A. L. Andreev. Productions have been staged in the republic by Honored Artist of the BSSR and the Lithuanian SSR K. Ia. Goleizovskii, Honored Artist of the RSFSR V. I. Vainonen, and People’s Artist of the USSR R. V. Zakharov. As of 1970, the theater’s ballet troupe included the ballet dancers People’s Artists of the BSSR N. S. Davydenko, A. A. Korzenkova, I. N. Savel’eva, and V. K. Davydov; Honored Artist of the RSFSR K. N. Malysheva; Honored Artists of the BSSR I. D. Didichenko, R. E. Krasovskaia, L. S. Chekhovskii, and others. The ballet masters have included Honored Artist of the RSFSR O. M. Dadishkiliani and others. Iu. M. Churko is one of the republic’s foremost ballet scholars. The nation’s ballet performers are trained at the Byelorussian School of Choreography (founded in 1944).


Churko, Iu. Belorusskii balet. Minsk, 1966.
Churko, Iu. Belorusskii stsenicheskii tanets. Minsk, 1969.


The origins of Byelorussian theatrical art lie in ancient rituals and games, as well as in the creative art of the skomorokhi. The folk puppet theater known as batleika became widespread beginning in the 16th century, and it influenced Byelorussian theater and drama. The school theater, in existence during the 17th and 18th centuries, staged the plays of Simeon Polotskii and other writers; it was also during the 17th century that folk drama came into being. During the second half of the 18th century serf theaters were established (those of Count S. Zorich in Shklov, the Radziwiłł princes in Nesvizh, and others), some of which functioned even at the beginning of the 19th century. Professional Byelorussian dramaturgy began to be developed in the second quarter of the 19th century; its first representative was V. I. Dunin-Martsinkevich. All his plays were staged in a theater which the playwright himself established in Minsk and later on his estate of Liutsinka (near Minsk). An upswing in Byelorussian culture began at the end of the 19th century, and from 1905 on many cities, towns, and villages held frequent “Byelorussian evening parties,” during which songs and dances were performed and plays were presented. I. T. Buinitskii established a theater (1907–13) which was named the First Byelorussian Troupe. The activity of this theater laid the foundations for modern professional theatrical art in Byelorussia. In 1917, Minsk saw the creation of a theater known as the First Association of Byelorussian Drama and Comedy. (Many of its actors subsequently joined the Ia. Kupala Theater.)

With the establishment of Soviet power in Byelorussia the active development of Byelorussian theater and drama was inaugurated. The Byelorussian State Theater opened in Minsk in 1920 (known since 1926 as the Byelorussian First State Theater, BGT-1, and since 1944 as the Ia. Kupala Theater). It staged the plays of Ia. Kupala, E. A. Mirovich, M. Charot, and others, which showed the everyday life of the Byelorussian people and its struggle against autocracy. The most important productions were On St. John’s Night by M. Charot, Masheka, Kastus’ Kalinovskii, and The Blacksmith as Governor-General by E. A. Mirovich. On the initiative of V. I. Golubko the Byelorussian Touring Theater was established in 1920 (known since 1932 as the Byelorussian Third State Drama Theater); for the most part, Golubko’s own plays were staged there. In 1926 the Byelorussian Second State Theater (BGT-2, known since 1944 as the Ia. Kolas Theater) began operating in Vitebsk; founded in Minsk was the State Jewish Theater of the Byelorussian SSR (it remained in operation until 1949). In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the repertoire of these theaters included such plays dealing with contemporary life as Mirovich’s Career of Comrade Bryzgalin, E. S. Romano-vich’s The Bridge, G. Ia. Kobet’s Guta, all at BGT-1; and B. A. Lavrenev’s The Break, I. D. Gurskii’s Stokers, and A. I. Aleksandrovich’s Pressure, all at BGT-2.

During the 1930’s there was considerable growth in the network of theaters; the State Russian Drama Theater of the BSSR (1932) and the Byelorussian TIUZ (Young People’s Theater; 1931), as well as oblast, kolkhoz, and sovkhoz theaters, were established. Among the plays produced during these years were: K. Chornyi’s The Fatherland, E. L. Samuilenok’s The Death of a Wolf, K. Krapiva’s Partisans and He Who Laughs Last, and M. Gorky’s The Last, all at BGT-1; Ia. Kolas’ War Against War and In the Dense Forests of Poles’e at BGT-2; and Samuilenok’s Sergeant Drob at the Byelorussian Third State Drama Theater. The character of V. I. Lenin was first recreated on the Byelorussian stage in BGT-2’s productions of Man with a Rifle (1938) and Kremlin Chimes (1940) by N. F. Pogodin.

At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the theaters were evacuated—BGT-1 to Tomsk and BGT-2 to Ural’sk, subsequently to Orekhovo-Zuevo. Among the productions during this period were: The Russian People by K. M. Simo-nov, The Front by A. E. Korneichuk, Invasion by L. M. Leonov, and Test by Fire by K. Krapiva. There were successful productions of the Byelorussian comedies Nesterka by V. F. Vol’skii (1941, at BGT-2) and Pavlinka by Ia. Kupala (1944, at BGT-1), which are still in their repertoires.

At the end of the 1940’s and during the 1950’s the most important productions were devoted to the Great Patriotic War—for example, A. Movzon’s Konstantin Zaslonov, and K. Krapiva’s With the People and People and Devils at the Ia. Kupala Theater and K. L. Gubarevich’s Brest Fortress at the Byelorussian Komsomol Theater in Brest. The Larks Are Singing by K. Krapiva, and Excuse Me, Please! by A. E. Makaenok were also popular. The Ravaged Nest by Ia. Kupala and A Thunderstorm Is Coming (based on Ia. Kolas’ trilogy At the Crossroads, both presented at the Ia. Kolas Theater, dealt with the past of the Byelorussian people.

The Great October Revolution and the Civil War and the struggle of the Communist Party under the leadership of V. I. Lenin to establish and reinforce Soviet power were the subjects of such plays as N. F. Pogodin’s Kremlin Chimes and The Third Pathétique at the Ia. Kupala Theater, P. F. Glebka’s Light from the East at the Ia. Kolas Theater, and K. L. Gubarevich’s The Main Headquarters at the Russian Dramatic Theater of the BSSR. The theaters continued to turn to the best works of Russian and foreign classical drama. The productions of W. Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear, M. Gorky’s Enemies, and A. N. Ostrovskii’s A Lucrative Position were among their achievements.

The best productions of the 1960’s were A. E. Makaenok’s Levonikha in Orbit; People in the Marshes, based on the novel by I. P. Melezh; and The Republic of Rudobel’sk, based on the novella by S. I. Grakhovskii (all at the Ia. Kupala Theater) and P. A. Danilov’s Levonikha; K. Chornyi’s The Fatherland; The Wells, based on the novel by I. P. Shamiakin; War Under the Roofs, based on the novel by A. M. Adamovich; and M. F. Shatrov’s The Sixth of July (all at the Ia. Kolas Theater).

Byelorussia had nine dramatic theaters in 1970: the Ia. Kupala Byelorussian State Academic Theater, the Byelorussian Republic TIUZ, and the M. Gorky Russian Drama Theater of the BSSR, all in Minsk; the Ia. Kolas Byelorussian State Theater in Vitebsk; the Byelorussian Komsomol Brest Oblast Drama Theater; and Russian theaters in Gomel’, Grodno, Mogilev, and Bobruisk. There were also three puppet theaters—the State Puppet Theater of the BSSR in Minsk and puppet theaters in Brest and Gomel’.

A great contribution to the development of the nation’s art was made by the following directors: People’s Artists of the BSSR V. I. Golubok, E. A. Mirovich, K. N. Sannikov, and Iu. B. Shcherbakov; People’s Artist of the USSR I. M. Raevskii; Honored Artists of the Byelorussian SSR L. M. Litvinov, N. B. Loiter, N. A. Mitskevich, L. I. Mozolev-skaia, and A. B. Skibievskii; Honored Artist of the Byelorussian SSR N. A. Koviazin; and F. P. Zhdanovich and B. V. Erin. Contributing actors were People’s Artists of the USSR G. P. Glebov, V. I. Vladomirskii, A. K. Il’inskii, P. S. Molchanov, B. V. Platonov, L. G. Rakhlejiko, L. I. Rzhetskaia, and Z. F. Stomma; People’s Artists of the BSSR M. S. Belinskaia, S. S. Birillo, Z. I. Brovarskaia, O. V. Galina, G. Iu. Grigonis, V. I. Dediushko, N. N. Eremenko, I. F. Zhdanovich, N. P. Zvezdochetov, R. N. Koshel’nikova, G. K. Makarova, V. N. Pollo, E. P. Rodzialovskaia, T. N. Sergeichik, S. M. Staniuta, V. P. Tarasov, A. M. Trus, I. B. Shatillo, A. G. Sheleg, and F. I. Shmakov; and Honored Artist of the BSSR V. N. Krylovich. Important theatrical artists were People’s Artists of the BSSR O. P. Mariks and E. D. Nikolaev and Honored Artists of the BSSR A. B. Grigoriants and I. M. Ushakov.

In 1945 the Byelorussian Institute of Theatrical Arts, which trains people for the national theaters, opened in Minsk. In 1946 the Byelorussian Theatrical Society was established.


Ramanovich, Ia. Pershy teatr, Minsk, 1946.
Butakov, A. Iskusstvo zhiznennoi pravdy. Minsk, 1957.
Mastatsva Savetskai Belarusi: Zbornik artykulau. Minsk, 1955.
Niafed, U. Belaruski teatr: Narys historyi. Minsk, 1959.
Niafed, U. Suchasny belaruski teatr (1946–1959). Minsk, 1961.
Niafed, U. Stanovlenie belorusskogo sovetskogo teatra. Minsk, 1965.
Slova pra maistrou stseny. Minsk, 1967.
Istoriia sovetskogo dramaticheskogo teatra, vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1966–69.
Circus. The national Byelorussian circus has been developing constantly since the 17th century. Special schools were established (a school for training bears, the so-called Smorgonsk Academy, dating from the 17th century; a school for magicians in the town of Semezhev, dating from the first half of the 19th century, and others). Byelorussian circus troupes began to make appearances (the Dovgialo magicians and tightrope walkers, active during the first half of the 19th century, and others). Since 1864, Russian and foreign circus troupes have appeared in Byelorussia. During the first few years of Soviet power, associations and groups of circus performers were active. During the 1930’s and 1940’s winter circuses were operating in Mogilev and Minsk, and summer circuses in Bobruisk, Gomel’, and Mozyr’. In 1959 a new circus building (with 2,000 seats) was erected in Minsk. The national circus group utilizes many elements of Byelorussian art (for example, the appearances of the floor clown in the likeness of Nesterka, the hero of Byelorussian folklore; this role is played by the performer V. D. Kolobov, whose stage name is Kolobok). The circus group appeared in cities in the USSR and toured abroad. Byelorussian circus performers have included the Rzhevskie aerial acrobats, the woman animal trainer I. E. Sidorkina, the Khromovy jugglers, the Otlivaniki jugglers and acrobats, the illusionist A. S. Shag-Novozhilov, the clowns V. G. Mozel’ and O. G. Savich, the strong man and juggler A. I. Nelipovich, and the Milaev tightrope walkers.

Prior to the establishment of Soviet power, Byelorussia had no motion picture production of its own. There were privately owned motion picture theaters (in 1914 they numbered 56) which exhibited Russian and foreign films. The first motion pictures to be shot on Byelorussian territory were made during the Imperialist War (World War I) and Civil War by documentary cinematographers from Petrograd and Moscow. A resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the BSSR, dated Dec. 17, 1924, provided for the formation of a state board of cinematography and photography, known as Belgoskino. Production of newsreel documentary, educational, and popular science films then began in Byelorussia. In Leningrad in 1928, Belgoskino organized a dramatic film studio known as Sovetskaia Belarus’; it has operated in Minsk since 1939, and since 1946 has been called Belarus’fil’m.

In 1926 the first Byelorussian dramatic motion picture was released; it was called A True Story of the Forest (director Iu. V. Tarich) and dealt with the partisan fighting of the Byelorussian people during the years of the Civil War. This theme became the leading one in Byelorussian film-making during the 1930’s—for example, Born Under Fire (1930) and The First Platoon (1933, both directed by V. V. Korsh-Sablin), Hotel Savoy (1930) and People from the Baltic (1938, both directed by A. M. Faintsimmer), and The Eleventh of July (1938, directed by Tarich). Films based on historical material included Kastus’ Kalinovskii (1928, director V. R. Gardin) and Lieutenant Kijhe (1934, directed by Faintsimmer). Important creative achievements were reached in films about contemporary life—for example, Until Tomorrow (1929, directed by Tarich), Born Twice (1935, directed by E. L. Arshanskii), and Golden Lights (1935) and Seekers After Happiness (1936, both directed by Korsh-Sablin)—and in such screen versions as The Bear (1938, directed by I. M. Annenskii) and Poles’e Robinsons (1935, directed by I. V. Bakhar and L. S. Molchanov). During the years of the Great Patriotic War, in addition to the film journal Soviet Byelorussia (begun in 1942) and news-reels from the front, the dramatic Byelorussian Film Anthology was released (1942, directed by Korsh-Sablin and Tarich), as were the concert film Long Live Our Native Byelorussia! (1944) and the documentary Liberation of Soviet Byelorussia (1944, both directed by Korsh-Sablin and N. F. Sadkovich).

After the war, during the 1940’s and early 1950’s, the principal emphasis was on producing documentary films—the cinematic journals Soviet Byelorussia (appearing regularly since 1944), and Byelorussian Pioneer (since 1952). Among the first dramatic films were Konstantin Zaslonov (about a hero of the Patriotic War, 1949, directed by Korsh-Sablin and Faintsimmer), and screen versions of Pavlinka (1952, directed by A. G. Zarkhi), The Larks Are Singing (1953, directed by Korsh-Sablin and K. N. Sannikov), and He Who Laughs Last (1954, directed by Korsh-Sablin). The most important films of the 1950’s and 1960’s were devoted to the Great Patriotic War—for example, The Clock Stopped at Midnight (1959, directed by N. N. Figurovskii), The Third Rocket (1963, directed by R. N. Viktorov), Through the Graveyard (1965) and My Birthplace Was Childhood (1967, both directed by V. T. Turov), and Alpine Ballad (1966, directed by B. M. Stepanov). Historical revolutionary films were produced—for example, Red Leaves (1958), We Shall Remember This Day (1967, both directed by Korsh-Sablin), and Moscow to Genoa (1964, directed by A. B. Speshnev with the participation of Korsh-Sablin and P. N. Armand). The historical film I, Frantsisk Skorina (1970, directed by Stepanov) was also made. Byelorussian motion picture makers have produced a series of dramatic films for children and youth, including A Partisan’s Children (1954, directed by L. V. Golub and Figurovskii), Mikolka the Steam Locomotive (1957), The Little Girl Is Looking for Her Father (1959), Pushchik Travels to Prague (1965, made with Czechoslovak cinematographers), Aniuta’s Path (1968, Golub directed all these films), City of Artisans (1965, directed by V. S. Bychkov), and Ivan Makarovich (1968, directed by I. M. Dobroliubov). Films dedicated to contemporary life include: Our Neighbors (1957, directed by S. I. Sploshnov), Happiness Must Be Guarded (1958) and The Wells (1965, both directed by I. A. Schulman), The Last Loaf of Bread (1963, directed by Stepanov), A Thousand Windows (1968, director Speshnev), and Do Battle (1969, director N. A. Kalinin). Well-known documentary films are: The Truth About the Pentecostal Sectarians (1958, directed by V. M. Strel’tsov), People With Black Souls (1961, directed by P. P. Shamshur), Eagle’s Nest (1966, directed by V. N. Sukmanov), Soldiers of the Fortress (1966, directed by M. K. Zaslonova), General Pushcha (1967, directed by I. N. Veinerovich), Finishing Touches to a Portrait (1968, directed by I. Ts. Pikman, V. P. Tsesliuk, and R. Z. Iasinskii), In the Fire of Life (1969, directed by Veinerovich), and My Pain Is Khatyn’ (1970, director P. K. Oliferenko).

The Union of Byelorussian Cinematographers was founded in 1962. (The organizational bureau had been created in 1957.) As of Jan. 1, 1970, there were 12,889 cinema units.


Istoriia belorusskogo kino, part 1—1924–45; part [2]—1945–67. Minsk, 1969–70.
Krasinski, A. V., V. I. Smal’, and G. P. Tarasevich. Belaruskae kino: Karotki narys. Minsk, 1962.
Lebedev, N. A. Ocherk istorii kino SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1947.
Problemy sovremennogo belorusskogo iskusstva. Minsk, 1968.