Baranovichi
Fot. Joanna Urbanek

Baranovichi is a major junction for trains leaving for Moscow, Warsaw, Kiev, and Vilnius. The town is located in the Brest District (Belarus) and has over 16,000 inhabitants, including several thousand Poles. There is a Polish Community Centre, the Tadeusz Rejtan Social Polish School, and a Polish choir in the town.

The first mentions of Baranovichi date back to 1709 when it belonged to the Rozwadowski family. The development of the place was caused by the construction of the Brest–Moscow and Rivne–Vilnius railway lines in 1870. Baranovichi was granted the town charter at the time of the Second Polish Republic — in 1919. Just before the outbreak of World War II it was the largest town and main transport centre of the Nowogródek voivodship, the seat of a military garrison, and a Border Protection Corps (KOP) unit. From 1938 Baranovichi had a large Polish Radio Station. At that time, the town had a population of 30,000, with Jews accounting for nearly 70% of it. After the entry of the Red Army troops to the town in 1939 the persecutions and transportations of the Polish population started. From 1941, the town was under the German occupation. In the town the Germans established a prisoner-of-war camp for Russians, where more than 100,000 people lost their lives, and a ghetto. Out of 18,000 Jews only fewer than 250 survived. Baranovichihas more than 170,000 inhabitants today. The town is very extensive, with well-spaced mostly small buildings. Small wooden houses are contrasting with huge housing estates of tall blocks of flats built of prefabricated concrete. There are no monuments in Baranovichi, and the oldest church — dedicated to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross — dates back to 1924.

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