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The city of Babruysk (Belarusian: Бабру́йск; Russian: Бобру́йск, Bobruisk) is located in Mahilyow voblast of Belarus on the Berezina river. It is a large city in Belarus with a population of approximately 227,000 people (data of 2000). The name Babruysk (as well as that of the Babruyka river) probably originates from the Belarusian word бобр (beaver), many of which used to inhabit the Berezina river. However, beavers in the area have been almost eliminated by the end of the 19th century due to hunting and pollution.

Babruysk occupies an area of 66 square km, and is comprised of over 450 streets whose combined length stretches for over 430 km.

Babruysk is located at the intersection of railroads to Osipovichi, Zhlobin, Oktyabrsky and roads to Minsk, Gomel, Mogilev, Kalinkovichi, Slutsk, and Rogachiov. It has the biggest timber mill in Belarus, and is also known for its chemical, machine building and metal-working industries. In march of 2002, 46,980 Babruysk citizens have been employed in some form of manufacturing.

In 2003, there were 34 public schools in Babruysk, with over 34,000 students. There are also three schools specializing in music, dance and visual arts. Additionally, there is a medical school and numerous professional technical schools.


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Babruysk fortress in 1811
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Undated photo of old Babruysk with synagogue visible in the background.

Babruysk is one of the oldest cities in Belarus. It was first mentioned in writing in the middle of the 14th century. Investigations by archeologists revealed that in the 5th and 6th centuries there existed Slavic settlements up the river Berezina from where Babruysk is currently located; findings of stone tools and weapons suggest that people have lived in the area since the stone age.

During the reign of Vladimir I, Prince of Kiev, in place of modern-day Babruysk there was a village whose inhabitants were occupied with fishing and beaver trapping. This is where the name Babruysk originated. For many centuries Babruysk was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was an important militarily fortified border post. In the 14th century a castle was built on one of the hills near the Berezina River.

Babruysk was not only a major military base, but also a prominent trade center. There is evidence of a market containing over 75 stalls, which implies significant financial activity. In the first half of the 17th century Babruysk became a big trade outpost thanks to its strategic position at the intersection of major trade routes and the Berezina river. There was a flowering of skilled tradesmen, including carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and bakers. The population in the first half of the 17th century was between 2,000 and 5,000 people.

The town was surrounded by fortifications made from wood and earth, whose length stretched for over 3 km. These included a protective earth barrier, wooden walls, and almost a dozen two-story watchtowers. In the walls there were openings designed for the placement of firearms. In 1810, the construction of a fortress began to mark the border between Russia and Austria and Prussia; in 1812 it was almost completed and was successful in repelling Napoleon's attack for four months. After the war the building was renewed on a large scale, and it was completed in 1820. The Babruysk fortress has served it's purpose for many decades and today it is a major tourist attraction.

The 1861 census showed a population of 15,766. There were many ethnicities represented, including Belorusians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Most of the buildings were constructed from wood, just as in other Belorusian cities. In 1866 there were 1498 houses, only 29 of which were made from brick.

There has been a steady increase in the Jewish population of Babruysk following the Napoleonic wars. By 1897, in the population of 34,336 citizens, 60.5%, or 20,795 were Jews. Most of them were employed in crafts, industry and trade.

The last decade of the 19th century in Babruysk was characterized by pogroms as a result of the assassination of the Russian emperor Alexander II. However, most of the attacks were repelled by self-organized Jewish armed units called boyuvkes.

In 1902, the Great Fire of Babruysk left 2,500 families homeless and destroyed over 250 business, 15 schools and the market. There was over 7 million rubles in property damage, however the city was quickly rebuilt, this time with brick and stone.

In 1941, Hitler's forces invaded Babruysk. 20,000 Babruysk Jews were shot and buried in mass graves. Ghetto and labor camps were established in the southwest part of town. The conditions inside the camps were horrible and involved lack of food, lack of sanitation and perpetual abuse by the Nazi guards. Soon they Nazis began executing the Jews in the ghetto in groups of about 30. By 1943 all labor camps have been liquidated and the remaining Jews killed. The few Jews who escaped the slaughter joined partisan forces in the surrounding forest and went about attacking enemy railroad lines. There is a small memorial dedicated to the memory of Babruysk Jews killed in the Holocaust, located in the achlat Itzhak cemetery, Giv'atyim, Israel as part of the Babi Yar memorial.

On June 29, 1944, the Red Army recaptured Babruysk, killing over 20,000 Nazi soldiers. The city lay in ruins; while the population had been 84,107 in 1939, it was down to 28,352 following the war. The difficult process of rebuilding was conducted by thousands of workers who labored to clear factories and streets of rubble and filled in craters made by the bombardment. The machine building plant had been almost completely destroyed, but was restored to working order by the end of 1944. Many other factories and facilities were also rebuilt.

The population recovered swiftly as well. In 1959 it was 96,000, in 1965 - 116,000, in 1968 - 122,500, in 1970 - 136,000 and by 1989, 232,000 people were living in Babruysk. This was mostly due to urbanization, where people moved into the city from the surrounding rural areas.

See also

External links

bg:Бобруйск pl:Bobrujsk ru:Бобруйск uk:Бобруйськ


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