Минутка ретро ли туристический экскурс по Гродненской области для иностранцев времен СССР изданный в 1975 году на английском языке.
The inhabitants of the Grodno Region call their native land Prinemonye, and not without reason. The blue ribbon of the River Neman, which ranks third among the biggest rivers in Byelorussia, winds its way across the region from east to west. Numerous streams join the river from the north and the south and thus bind almost all the districts of the region together.
In the remote past the region was the extreme north-western part of ancient Rus. In the epoch of feudal division it became an independent principality, keeping on close ties with Russian lands.
For a long time the region had been under the Great Principality of Lithuania and later under the Rzech Pospolita.
At the end of the 18th century Byelorussia reunited with Russia, and a new stage in the region’s history had started since, the period of its rapid economic and cultural development. The growth of capitalist production, represented by the manufactory, began here earlier than in the eastern parts of Byelorussia. Soon the place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry. Capitalist relations also developed in trade and farming.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution, when Reiser’s troops were routed, the region became Soviet, but for a period of few months only. New misfortunes fell upon it. The lands of Western Byelorussia, including the Grodno Region, had been torn away from Soviet Byelorussia for twenty years. The region’s economy and culture fell into deep stagnation and decay.
The region was rightly called then a god-forsaken hole, a mere raw material appendage of the capitalist economy.
But the Byelorussian people would not reconcile themselves to the life of oppression and poverty. They were stubborn in their just struggle for liberation.
In 1939 the dreams of the working people of the region came true, they became free. But their constructive work was soon interrupted, nazi Germany treacherously attacked the Land of the Soviets.
(C) „Belarus’* Publishers, 1975
Terrible were the ordeals that fell to the lot of the inhabitants of the region in the war years. The region was among the first Soviet territories severely attacked by the huge military machine of Hitler Germany. The nazi invasion cost the region huge losses in life and property. The fascists destroyed 120 industrial enterprises, plundered and ruined all state and collective farms, machine-and-tractor stations, burnt down 14,000 peasant homes. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet people were executed by the nazi bandits or tortured to death in nazi concentration camps. But no brutalities and atrocities committed by the enemy could break the people’s strong will to win.
The inhabitants of the region, like the whole Soviet people, rose to defend their Motherland. They contributed much to the victory of the Soviet Union over fascist Germany. Over 20,000 people, representatives of all Soviet nationalities, fought in the ranks^of partisan detachments, of which there were 106 in the region.
The partisan movement spread swiftly and became one of the most important political and strategic factors that contributed much to the victory over the Germans. Within three years of the heroic struggle in the enemy rear partisans, underground workers and saboteur groups that acted in the region annihilated over 62,000 Hitlerites, 138 tanks, 1,028 lorries, shot down 6 planes, derailed over 1,000 trains with enemy troops and materiel, blew up 1,134 railway and other bridges.
As soon as the German invaders were driven out of the region, the rehabilitation of its war-ruined economy began. In Soviet times the region has covered a long and difficult road from backwardness to progress. It has become a region with largescale industry and highly-mechanized agriculture.
Thanks to the assistance rendered by the fraternal peoples of the country many plants and factories in Grodno, Lida, Volko- visk, Slonim, Mosty and other towns and district centres of the region were quickly rehabilitated and modified. Soon the region’s pre-war industrial level was achieved. The present volume of industrial output is a 20-fold increase over the pre-war level.
In the post-war years, dozens of industrial enterprises have been constructed, new roads built, new trunk gas pipelines and high-voltage lines laid in the region. Many small settlements have grown into towns, and many provincial towns have become big industrial centres.
The chemical works named after S. Prititsky, which is the biggest in Europe, the cardan shafts plant, the spinning and thread plant, the Lida varnish and paints plant, two shoe-making factories, the heat and power plant TETs-2, the building materials plants in Grodno and Smorgon, the Slonim motor repair works — such is the list of enterprises constructed in the region of late.
73 per cent of cardboard, about 37 per cent of leather footwear, over 35 per cent of cement, 24 per cent of veneer, 25 per cent of sugar, 16 per cent of meat and 15 per cent of butter of the total volume of these products turned out in Byelorussia are produced in the Grodno Region making up 12.1 per cent of the Republic’s territory and 13 per cent of its population. Every tenth lorry made in the country has the cardan shaft and the brake unit manufactured in the region.
The Grodno Region maintains close economic ties with other regions of Byelorussia and fraternal Soviet republics. This cooperation is growing, becoming more diversified. All kinds of goods produced in the region are sent to many parts of the Soviet Union, while the region in its turn receives machinery, raw and other materials, electricity, gas and fuel from different Union republics.
The inviolable friendship of the peoples of the Land of the Soviets adds to the international nature of the economic co-operation. Collective and state farms as well as industrial enterprises of the region strengthen these friendly ties by concluding socialist emulation agreements and increasing the exchange of their experience and spiritual values. Representatives of other Soviet nationalities are to be found working at every plant, collective and state farm, in every production collective of the region.
Deep-going qualitative as well as quantitative changes have taken place in the economy of the region. The structure of industrial production has been changing much to include mechanical engineering, chemical industry, electrical engineering and other new industries developing at an accelerated pace alongside with the renovated «old» light and food industries.
The enterprises of the region manufacture modern agricultural machinery, up-to-date foundry equipment, cableware, mineral fertilizers, varnishes and paints, ferro-concrete and silicate concrete structures and parts, including articles of cellular silicate concrete, glassware and plastic goods. Over 100 kinds of articles have been certified the State super-quality standards.
Cement produced by the «Pobeda» plant was used to concrete the dam of the Bratsk Hydropower Station and the foundations of the Ostankino TV-tower in Moscow. Far-famed is the glassware manufactured by the «Neman» plant. A great deal of goods produced in the region are exported to many foreign countries, over 50 kinds of articles go to the world market.
A strong power base has been created in the region in Soviet times. Before the Fiftieth Anniversary of Soviet power, all the collective farms, state farms and settlements of the region were completely electrified. At present, the Grodno Region power grid forms part of the Byelorussian single grid. It is also connected to that of the Polish People’s Republic and the Mir integrated power grid, which binds the power grids of the socialist countries together.
Big changes have taken place in agriculture over the past five years. Inter- and intra-sectoral specialization and concentration of production have been carried out, which favoured a steep rise in the yield of all farm crops and the productivity of animal husbandry. In 1973, grain averaged 23 centners per hectare. A very good harvest of flax, potatoes, sugar beet and other crops has been grown in the region. To-day, over 360 centners of milk and 100 centners of meat have been produced per 100 hectares of agricultural land. The annual average milk yield per cow is over 2,400 kilos.
By the end of 1975, the collective and state farms of the region will have 15,000 tractors, 5,000 grain harvesters and about 8,000 lorries. Dozens of big cattle-breeding complexes will be put up to produce meat, milk and other farm products on an industrial basis.
Housing conditions, cultural and everyday services have been greatly improved. In the past five-year period alone, 40,000 new apartments with all modern amenities were provided for the region’s population, which means that every sixth family moved into a new flat. About 100,000 apartments have been charged with gas.
Many new schools, cultural and everyday services establish ments have been put up.
The Soviet Government highly estimated the merits of the inhabitants of the Grodno Region in the Great Patriotic War, who displayed courage and heroism in fighting the nazi invaders, and in their constructive work. In 1967, the region was awarded the Order of Lenin.
The rapid growth of the national economy and the steady rise in the living standards of the people made for the development of a ramified system of schools, specialized secondary and higher educational establishments. In the region there are over 1,400 secondary modern schools with an enrollment of over 200,000 pupils. Its 18 technical schools and 12 vocational schools have already trained about 30,000 specialists for various branches of the national economy.
Formerly there were no institutions of higher learning in the region, now there are three. The three institutes have already trained over 25,000 highly-qualified specialists. The Pedagogical Institute named after the Byelorussian national bard Yanka Ku- pala has 21 chairs. 207 instructors, of whom there are 50 doctors and masters of science, are employed at the institute. 15 doctors of science and 100 masters of science work at the Medical Institute. In the years since its establishment, the Institute of Agriculture has trained a total of over 5,000 agronomists, zootechnicians and other specialists in agriculture.
Soviet culture has been successfully developing in the region. The regional drama theatre, 4 amateur theatres, dozens of choirs, song and dance amateur companies, 803 clubs, 961 cinema units and over 1,000 libraries serve to fully meet the rising spiritual demands of the region’s inhabitants and raise their cultural level. The «Avangard» and «Gvardia» collective farms (Grodno District), the «Zavety Ilyicha» collective farm and the collective farm named after V. I. Lenin (Mosty District), the «Novaya Zhizn» and «Zarya» collective farms (Korelichy District), the collective farm named after Shchors and the «Rassvet» collective farm (Novogrudok District), the «Svoboda» collective farm (Oshmyany District) and many other collective and state farms of the region have light and spacious clubs and palaces of culture provided with stationary film projectors, spacious auditoriums and reading halls, rooms for hobby groups, sports grounds and stadiums.
The towns of Grodno and Lida, the Korelichy, Grodno, Novogrudok, Volkovisk, Slonim, Shchuchin and many other districts of the region have a ramified system of cultural institutions. Clubs, libraries and other cultural establishments serve effectively in the communist education of working people and are good recreational facilities for them.
In addition to giving the working masses broad access to cultural values, Soviet power has also provided them with all they need, including material comforts and pleasures, for the development of their gifts and talents. Socialism has made them the direct makers of culture. Many amateur art companies give masterly performances. The Grodno «Neman» Song and Dance Company is very popular. It was a success in Minsk, Odessa, Moscow and made two tours of Poland. The Oginsky Song and Dance Company of the Smorgon Palace of Culture has also won wide popularity. The amateur company of the «Slava Trudu» collective farm (Dyatlov District) and that of the «Zarya» collective farm (Ivyev District) as well as the «Svityaz» Ensemble (Novogrudok) and the «Lyanok» Ensemble (Dyatlov) also give successful performances.
Many amateur art groups have been honoured with the titles of People’s Ensembles, Choirs, etc. for their merits in aesthetic education and their masterly performances. The choir of the «Znamya Sovietov» collective farm (Novogrudok District), the theatres of Slonim, Oshmyany and Lida, the Ensemble of Cymbalists of the Smorgon District House of Culture, the «Lidchan- ka» Song and Dance Company are among them.
The Regional Drama t Theatre, founded 25 years ago, is also very popular. Every its season the theatre receives about 250,000 spectators. The theatre stages plays by Soviet and Byelorussian playwrights. Many works by Russian and foreign classics are also in the repertory of the theatre. The theatre often goes on tour to different towns and villages of the region. Writers and amateur composers of the region contribute much to the development of Soviet literature and culture in it, too. The works by Vassil Bykov, Danuta Bigel-Zagnetova, Gavriil Shu- tenko and other writers are known in Byelorussia and far beyond its borders. The songs by A. Shidlovsky are very popular with people. The musical compositions by E. Kazachkov, M. Koop, . P. Pikalov and E. Petrashkevich also enjoy wide popularity. Fine and applied arts have been on the upswing in the region. The works by V. Savitsky, L Pushkov, D. Porokhnya, K. Petrov, A. Zakharov, M. Pluzhnik have been displayed at many Republican and All-Union exhibitions. The earthenware, glassware and articles made of or inlaid with straw as well as towels and bedspreads manufactured by the skilled craftsmen of the region are original and far-famed.
The Grodno Museum of History and Archaeology is an important centre of culture in the region, too. It displays over 100,000 exhibits. Every year over 100,000 visitors come here. In the recent years, museums of local lore and those of revolutionary, military and labour glory have been created in Lida, Slonim, Volkovisk, Novogrudok, Oshmyany and Dyatlov.
The Soviet people’s health is an object of the Party’s and the state’s constant concern. The far-flung system of the public health services of the region is a vivid demonstration of this.
There are 10 sanatoria and holiday homes situated in the most pisturesque parts of the region. Here people take their rest and cure. And the network of health-centres shall be much‘extended. Besides, every year thousands of inhabitants of the Grodno region go to the health-resorts of the Crimea, the Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Baltic republics.
All forms of physical training and sports have become available to the people under Soviet power. Over 10 stadiums, a number of swimming pools, hundreds of gymnasia, sports grounds, football fields and other sports structures are at the disposal of those going in for sports. Today, every fourth inhabitant of the region goes in for sports.
Ivan Edeshko, Ivan Vyalchenkov, Vladimir Zlenko, well- known sportsmen, Renald Knish, a talented trainer, and his «nurselings» Elena Volchetskaya, Olimpic champion, Olya Korbut, Olimpic champion and Winner in the World Student Games, Tamara Alekseyeva, a famous gymnast, are the pride of the region.
Nature is rich in the region. The Naliboky Pushcha in the east of the region and the Grodno Pushcha, which makes part _ of the Byelovezhskaya Pushcha, in the west of it, the woods of the Slonim, Ostrovets and other districts of the region have preserved the animal kingdom characteristic of Byelorussia. Here one can meet over 60 kinds of mammals and over 200 kinds of birds. Fine oak-groves, the picturesque banks of the River Neman, the Oginsky canals, the water-meadows of the a Berezina, the Shara, the Zelvyanka (rivers) and the beautiful I landscapes of the Svityaz, the Ribnitsa and the Beloye (lakes) I are fine areas for recreation, hunting and fishing. The Grodno ! zoological gardens are of great interest to the nature-lover. Founded 40 years ago, they have become a big preserve. Over 140 kinds of birds, animals and fish are to be found here.
Every town of the region, every its village contributed a vivid page to its centuries-old history. The Grodno of to-day is a big modern city and an important industrial centre. Yet one can’t imagine it without its unique relics of the past. These are the Fortress of Cirodno on the Zamkovaya (Castle) Hill, the Borisoglebskaya (Koloihskaya) Church, the Bernardian, the Franciscan, the Brigitsky and the Jesuit Polish Roman-Catholic churches and abbeys, the House-Museum of Eliza Ozheshko, numerous monuments to those killed in the Great Patriotic War, museums of history, architecture and culture. The Grodno Region has made great progress. In a historically short period everything has changed much here: its towns and villages, lands and people, science and engineering, culture and conditions of life, The changes are beyond comparison, so great is the path of progress traversed by the region: from distaff to textile mills, from oil lamp to electricity, From wooden plough to dozens of thousands of tractors, from poor artizan workshops processing resin oil to chemical giants, from thatched and smoked cottages with dim window-panes to many-storeyed houses with all modern conveniences.
All these achievements stand to the credit of the people, enjoying freedom and happiness, their selfless work, energy and talent. Over 50 people of the region have been merited with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and that of Hero of Socialist Labour. Over 10,000 foremost people and innovators in industry and agriculture have been conferred upon orders and medals. Today, over 18 merited workers in culture, 48 merited physicians and other medical personnel, 215 merited teachers of the BSSR work in the region.
Mighty is .the deep Neman. And happy are the people that live on its banks, the working people of Soviet Prinemonye.
- I. Bread-and-salt to the performers of the Neman Amateur Theatre.
- II. The sights of Grodno. Operating is Hero of Socialist Labour V. P. Mironchik (right). Elena I. Minina must have a good many her darling ones…
- III. The Grodno chemical works. Every unit of powerful MUZ dump trucks must be solid and durable. Neman glass will surely brighten your table.
- IV. Grodno spinners. In a shop of the Lida electric appliances works.
- V. Whisper, whisper, young golden wheat… A collective farm forage-mill.
- VI. The central part of the Vertelishki collective farm. The Pa- lace of Culture of the Rassvet collective farm, Novogrudok District. The shopping centre of the Voronyansky collective farm, Berestovitsa District,
- VII. A sanatorium for children in Granditchy. Future teachers. Vassil Bykov, a well-known Byelorussian writer, lives and writes in the town on the Neman.
- VIII. The repertoire of the Slonim Theatre includes plays by M. Gorky. In the Museum of Mitskevich. Never will the path leading to the monument to legendary Kastus Kalinovsky be overgrown.
- IX. Polish friends in Berestovitsa.