Sebezh is a town and the administrative center of Sebezhsky District in Pskov Oblast, located in a picturesque setting between Lakes Sebezhskoye and Orono 189 kilometers south of Pskov, the administrative center of the oblast. Population: 6,375 , it was first mentioned in 1414 as a fortress protecting Pskov from the south, when Vytautas of Lithuania sacked it. Prince Ivan Shuysky built a wooden fortress there in 1535. In the 16th century, the fortress defended the Western approaches to the Grand Duchy of Moscow; the Poles held until the First Partition of Poland. The fortifications of Sebezh, now dismantled, were reinforced at the behest of Peter the Great during the Great Northern War; the castle hill is still dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, built in 1625-1648 and reconsecrated as a Russian Orthodox Church in 1989. Until 1927, Sebezh was the seat of Sebezhskly Uyezd of Pskov Governorate. On August 1, 1927, the uyezds and governorates were abolished and Sebezhsky District, with the administrative center in Sebezh, was established as a part of Velikiye Luki Okrug of Leningrad Oblast.
It included parts of former Sebezhsky Uyezd. On June 3, 1929, Sebezhsky District was transferred to Western Oblast. On July 23, 1930, the okrugs were abolished and the districts were directly subordinated to the oblast. On January 29, 1935, Western Oblast was abolished and the district was transferred to Kalinin Oblast, on February 5 of the same year, Sebezhsky District became a part of Velikiye Luki Okrug of Kalinin Oblast, one of the okrugs abutting the state boundaries of the Soviet Union. On May 4, 1938, the district was transferred to Opochka Okrug. On February 5, 1941, the okrug was abolished. Between July 9, 1941 and July 17, 1944, Sebezh was occupied by German troops. On August 22, 1944, the district was transferred to newly established Velikiye Luki Oblast. On October 2, 1957, Velikiye Luki Oblast was abolished and Sebezhsky District was transferred to Pskov Oblast. According to the 1939 population census, there were 845 Jews living in Sebezh; the SS Division “Totenkopf” arrived in the town on July 7, 1941.
Lots of Jews managed to escape during this period. During the entire occupation, which lasted from July 1941 to July 1944, there was an Ortskommandantur in the town. There was a Ordnungsdienst too. A ghetto was created in September 1941 and existed until March 1942. After that, it was liquidated. During the liquidation, more than 100 Jews were shot in pits; the perpetrators of the shooting were local Russian policemen. Within the framework of administrative divisions, Sebezh serves as the administrative center of Sebezhsky District, to which it is directly subordinated; as a municipal division, the town of Sebezh, together with sixty-eight rural localities, is incorporated within Sebezhsky Municipal District as Sebezh Urban Settlement. The M9 Highway, which connects Moscow and Riga, passes Sebezh. Another road connects Sebezh with Opochka. There are local roads; the railway connecting Moscow and Riga passes Sebezh. Sebezh contains one cultural heritage monument of federal significance and additionally fifteen objects classified as cultural and historical heritage of local significance.
The federally protected monument is the Trinity Church, a Catholic church consecrated in 1648, when Sebezh was still part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is the oldest baroque structure in Russia; as of 2013, the church is closed to the public because of reconstruction. Sebezh is home to the Sebezh District Museum, founded in 1927 and displaying collections of local interest. Semyon Dimanstein, Jewish Soviet state activist, publisher Zinovy Gerdt, Russian Soviet actor Witold Rudziński, Polish composer Псковское областное Собрание депутатов. Закон №833-оз от 5 февраля 2009 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Псковской области». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Псковская правда", №20, 10 февраля 2009 г.. Псковское областное Собрание депутатов. Закон №420-оз от 28 февраля 2005 г. «Об установлении границ и статусе вновь образуемых муниципальных образований на территории Псковской области», в ред. Закона №1542-ОЗ от 5 июня 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в Закон Псковской области "Об установлении границ и статусе вновь образуемых муниципальных образований на территории Псковской области"».
Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Псковская правда", №41–43, №44–46, №49–51, 4 марта 2005 г. 5 марта 2005 г. 11 марта 2005 г.. Архивный отдел Псковского облисполкома. Государственный архив Псковской области. "Административно-территориальное деление Псковской области. Справочник". Книга I. Лениздат, 1988 Official website of Pskov Oblast. Information about Sebezh Unofficial website of Sebezh
Vitebsk, or Viciebsk, is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Viciebsk Region, it had 342,381 inhabitants in 2004, making it the country's fourth-largest city, it is served by Viciebsk Air Base. Viciebsk developed from a river harbor where the Vićba River flows into the larger Western Dvina, spanned in the city by the Kirov Bridge. Archaeological research indicates. In the 9th century, Slavic settlements of the tribal union of the Krivichs replaced them. According to the Chronicle of Michael Brigandine, Princess Olga of Kiev founded Viciebsk in 974. Other versions give 947 or 914. Academician Boris Rybakov and historian Leonid Alekseyev have come to the conclusion, based on the chronicles, that Princess Olga of Kiev could have established Viciebsk in 947. Leonid Alekseyev suggested that the chroniclers, when transferring the date from the account of the Byzantine era to a new era, obtained the year 947 mistakenly written in copying manuscripts as 974. An important place on trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, Viciebsk became by the end of the 12th century a center of trade and commerce, the center of an independent principality, following Polotsk, at times and Kiev princes.
The official year of the founding of Viciebsk is 974, based on an anachronistic legend of founding by Olga of Kiev, but the first mention in historical records dates from 1021, when Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev gave it to Bryachislav Izyaslavich, Prince of Polotsk. In the 12th and 13th centuries Viciebsk functioned as the capital of the Principality of Viciebsk, an appanage principality which thrived at the crossroads of the river routes between the Baltic and Black seas. In 1320 the city was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as dowry of the Princess Maria, the first wife of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas. By 1351 the city had erected a stone Upper and Lower Castle, the prince's palace. In 1410 Viciebsk participated in the Battle of Grunwald. In 1597 the townsfolk of Viciebsk were privileged with Magdeburg rights. However, the rights were taken away in 1623 after the citizens revolted against the imposed Union of Brest and killed Archbishop Josaphat Kuntsevych of Polotsk; the city was completely destroyed in 1708, during the Great Northern War.
In the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the Russian Empire annexed Viciebsk. Under the Russian Empire the historic centre of Viciebsk was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style. Before World War II Viciebsk had a significant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 65,900, Jews constituted 34,400; the most famous of its Jewish natives was the painter Marc Chagall. In 1919 Viciebsk was proclaimed to be part of the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, but was soon transferred to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and to the short-lived Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1924 it was returned to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During World War II the city came under Nazi German occupation. Much of the old city was destroyed in the ensuing battles between the Germans and Red Army soldiers. Most of the local Jews perished in the Viciebsk Ghetto massacre of October 1941. In the first postwar five-year period the city was rebuilt.
Its industrial complex covered machinery, light industry, machine tools. In 1959 a TV tower was started broadcasting the 1st Central Television program. In the same year, during excavations on Liberation Square, a birch-bark scroll was found dating from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, it read: From Stpana to Nezhilovi. If hast sold trousers, buy me rye for 6 hryvnia, and if some didst not sold, send to my person. And if thou hast sold, do good to buy rye for me In January 1991 Viciebsk celebrated the first Marc Chagall Festival. In June 1992, a monument to Chagall was erected on his native Pokrovskaja Street and a memorial inscription was placed on the wall of his house. Since 1992 Viciebsk has been hosting the annual Slavianski Bazaar in Viciebsk, an international art festival; the main participants are artists from Russia and Ukraine, with guests from many other countries, both Slavic and non-Slavic. In 1999 a free economic zone "Viciebsk" was established; the city built the Ice Sports Palace, there was a remarkable improvement and expansion in the city.
The central stadium was reconstructed and the Summer Amphitheatre for the international art festival, the Slavic Bazaar, the railway station and other historical sites and facilities were restored, a number of new churches and other public facilities were built, together with the construction of new residential areas. The city has one of the oldest buildings in the country: the Annunciation Church; this magnificent six-pillared building dates back to the period of Kievan Rus since the city at the time was pagan and didn't belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Russian Orthodox Church or the Kievan Rus state. It was constructed in the 1140s as a pagan church, rebuilt in the 14th and 17th centuries as Roman Catholic Church, repaired in 1883 and destroyed by the Communist administration in 1961; the church was in ruins until 1992. Churches from the Polish-Lithuanian period were destroyed, although the Resurrection Church has been rebuilt; the Orthodox cathedral
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
48th Army (Soviet Union)
The 48th Army was a field army of the Soviet Red Army, active from 1941 to 1945. The army was first fought in the Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation; the army was disbanded in early September. Its remnants were moved to the 54th Army. Reformed in April 1942 on the Bryansk Front, the army fought in the Maloarkhangelsk Offensive in the winter of 1943, it defended the northern face of the Kursk Bulge. During the summer, it fought in the Chernigov-Pripyat Offensive. From November, the army fought in the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive; the army fought in Operation Bagration from June 1944. During the offensive, the army captured Zhlobin and Bobruisk and was on the Narew by early September. During early 1945, the army fought in the East Prussian Offensive and ended the war in East Prussia during May; the army was transferred to Poland in July 1945 and its headquarters was used to form the Kazan Military District in September. The army was established on 7 August 1941 from the Novgorod Operational Group, under command of Lt. Gen. Stepan Akimov, its initial order of battle was as follows: 1st Leningrad People's Militia Division 70th Rifle Division 128th Rifle Division 237th Rifle Division 1st Separate Mountain Rifle Brigade 21st Tank DivisionThe army was assigned to Northwestern Front and was responsible for the front's left flank north of Lake Ilmen.
It had under command the Ilmen Detachment of Ships. On 12 August the army, along with the 11th, 27th and 34th Armies, began a series of assaults against the German X Army Corps near Staraya Russa; these attacks failed to regain much territory but delayed the German advance on Leningrad by a further week. Following this, the 48th took up positions forward of Luga and Novgorod as part of the Luga defense line; that line was penetrated in the renewed German advance, Luga fell on 20 August, with heavy Soviet casualties. It was transferred to the Northern Front and ordered to defend the Gruzino-Liuban sector southeast of Leningrad. On 23 August Northern Front was subdivided, 48th Army became part of the new Leningrad Front. On 1 September the 48th comprised the 128th and 311th Rifle Divisions, the mountain brigade, the 541st Gun Artillery Regiment of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command and the 21st Tank Division. At this time, it was commanded by Lieutenant General Maxim Antoniuk. Heavy attacks by the German XXXIX Motorized Corps forced the army to abandon Mga, a key railway link.
Akimov was ordered to retake the town, which he did with the help of a fresh division of NKVD border guards, but the town was lost again the next day. During the first week of September the 20th Motorized Division, reinforced with elements of 12th Panzer Division, ground its way northwards against the resistance of the mountain brigade and the NKVD men before capturing Shlisselburg on Lake Ladoga on 8 September, isolating Leningrad, with the bulk of the army outside, to the east. On 12 September, the remnants of 48th Army were disbanded; the army was formed for a second time from 28th Mechanized Corps Headquarters on 20 April 1942, part of the Bryansk Front. It included a mortar regiment and a separate engineer battalion; the army was commanded by Major General Grigory Khalyuzin. On 1 June, the army included the 6th 8th, 211th and 280th Rifle Divisions, it included the 118th and 122nd Rifle Brigades as well as the 80th and 202nd Tank Brigades. Artillery and engineer units were included. Air support was provided by the 879th Light Bomber Aviation Regiment.
Army troops took up positions on the Korobka River west of Novosil. From the end of June to July, the army fought in heavy defensive battles in the Yeletsky direction. During the battles, the army was able to hold the German troops at the line of Bolshoy Malinovets, Zalegosh and Svetitsky. On 27 August the deputy commander of the army, Major General Konstantin Ignatievich Novik, was killed in action at Dishnia Station during a heavy enemy artillery raid. In February 1943, the army launched an offensive in the Maloarkhangelsk direction. On 12 February, Lieutenant General Prokofy Romanenko took command of the army. By 23 February it was in position southwest of northwest of Maloarkhangelsk. On 13 March, the army was transferred to the Central Front. During the summer and fall of 1943, the army fought in battles on the northern face of the Kursk Bulge, Operation Kutuzov and the Chernigov-Pripyat Offensive. Continuing to advance towards Gomel along with the 61st and 65th Armies, the 48th Army cleared the left bank of the Sozh of German troops by 10 October.
The army pursued the German troops to the south of Gomel. On 20 October, it transferred to the Belorussian Front and from the first week of November fought in the expansion of the bridgehead on the right bank of the Sozh. From 19 November, it fought in the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive. During early 1944, the army carried out an attack towards Bobruisk. At the outset of Operation Bagration on 23 June 1944, the 48th Army had been reinforced, was comprised as follows: 29th Rifle Corps 42nd Rifle Corps 53rd Rifle Corps 197th Rifle Division 115th Fortified Region 22nd Artillery Division 68th Light Artillery Brigade 220th Guards Antitank Artillery Regiment 479th Mortar Regiment 31st Antiaircraft Artillery Division 461st Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment 42nd and 231st Separate Ta
Velikiye Luki is a town in Pskov Oblast, located on the meandering Lovat River. It is the second largest town in Pskov Oblast. Velikiye Luki is a City of Military Glory, an honor bestowed on it because of the courage and heroism its citizens displayed during World War II, it was first mentioned in a chronicle under the year of 1166 as Luki. From the 12th century, Luki was a part of the Novgorod Republic. After the construction of a fortress in 1211, Velikiye Luki gained strategic importance, defending the approaches to Pskov and Novgorod, it was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Moscow by Ivan the Great in 1478. During the Livonian War, it played an important role. In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708 by Peter the Great, Velikiye Luki was included into Ingermanland Governorate, it was explicitly mentioned as one of the towns the governorate comprised. In 1727, separate Novgorod Governorate was split off, in 1772, Pskov Governorate was established. After 1777, Velikiye Luki was the seat of Velikolutsky Uyezd.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it evolved into an important railway hub following the construction of the railway connecting Moscow with Riga. On August 1, 1927, the uyezds were abolished, Velikoluksky District was established, with the administrative center in Velikiye Luki. Pskov Governorate was abolished as well, Velikiye Luki was the center of Velikiye Luki Okrug of Leningrad Oblast. On June 17, 1929, the okrug was transferred to Western Oblast. On July 23, 1930, the okrugs were abolished. On January 29, 1935, Western Oblast was abolished, the district was transferred to Kalinin Oblast, on February 5 of the same year, Velikiye Luki became the center of Velikiye Luki Okrug of Kalinin Oblast, one of the okrugs abutting the state boundaries of the Soviet Union. On May 4, 1938, the okrug was abolished again. From 19 to 21 July 1941 and again from 25 August 1941 to 17 January 1943, Velikiye Luki was occupied by German troops. During World War II, in 1941 and 1942, intensive fighting took place in the vicinity between German and Soviet forces.
During the Battle for Velikiye Luki, a German force of about 20,000 was surrounded in the town, turned into a fortress. After months of heavy fighting, the German defenders were defeated in January 1943; as a result of this siege, the town suffered total destruction. Significant part of Soviet forces consisted of Estonian mobilized to Red Army, about 6000 of them died there liberating the town. Many streets are named after the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. For example is the street named after Liza Chaykina. On August 22, 1944, Velikiye Luki Oblast was established, with the administrative center in Velikiye Luki. On October 2, 1957, Velikiye Luki Oblast was abolished, Velikiye Luki was transferred to Pskov Oblast as the town of oblast significance. In 2016, Velikiye Luki celebrated the 850th anniversary of the town's first mention in 1166; the town marked the event with festivals and historical exhibitions, as well as making long-term improvements. In 2013, town planners began the preparations to improve the infrastructure and quality of life for residents.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered federal support to the anniversary, recommended the Ministry of Transport fund a much-needed overpass connecting the two busiest parts of Velikiye Luki. The majority of the buildings in the town, including the schools, were built in the 1950s and 1960s and needed modernisation. New sports and leisure facilities were needed. Town officials stated. Among the improvements planned was the remodel of a large obelisk in Jubilee Square, erected on the city's 800th anniversary in 1966 but never finished. A contest was held to solicit designs for the remodel of the obelisk, as well as logos and slogans for the festivities; the winning design for the obelisk features elements symbolising the town's history, including Viking and Greek features. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it serves as the administrative center of Velikoluksky District though it is not a part of it; as an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the Town of Velikiye Luki—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.
As a municipal division, the Town of Velikiye Luki is incorporated as Velikiye Luki Urban Okrug and serves as the administrative center of Velikoluksky Municipal District. Velikiye Luki is an industrial city, with several enterprises in machine building industry, they produce machines for timber industry, electrotechnical equipment, batteries. There is a workshop to repair railway locomotives. There are enterprises of timber and food industries, as well as production of brickstones. Food industry in 2010 was responsible for production of 24.8% of all industrial output, electrotechnical industry produced 15% of the output. Velikiye Luki is an important railway hub. One railway runs in the east-west direction. Another railway, running to the northwest, connects Velikiye Luki via Toropets and Ostashkov with Bologoye. One more railway connects Velikiye Luki to Nevel, where it splits into two railway lines, both running southeast into Belarus: One line to Vitebsk, another one to Grodno via Polotsk and Molodechno.
The M9 highway which connects Moscow and Riga bypasses Veli
Polotsk is a historical city in Belarus, situated on the Dvina River. It is the center of the Polotsk District in Vitsebsk Voblast, its population is more than 80,000 people. It during the Cold War was home to Borovitsy air base; the Old East Slavic name, derives from the Polota River, which flows into the Western Dvina nearby. The Vikings rendered that name as Palteskja. Polotsk is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs; the Primary Chronicle listed Polotsk in 862, together with Beloozero. However, an archaeological expedition from the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus suggests that Polotsk existed in the first half of the 9th century; the first known prince of Polotsk was Rogvolod. He had a daughter named Rogneda. Rogvolod promised Rogneda to the prince of Yaropolk, as a wife, but Yaropolk's brother, had attacked Polotsk before Yaropolk came. He killed Rogvolod, his wife and sons, married Rogneda. Vladimir and Rogneda had five children and the eldest of them, became Prince of Polotsk.
Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Principality of Polotsk emerged as the dominant center of power in what is now Belarusian territory, with a lesser role played by the Principality of Turov to the south. It asserted its sovereignty in relation to other centers of Kievan Rus, becoming a political capital, the episcopal see and the controller of vassal territories among Balts in the west, its most powerful ruler was Prince Vseslav Bryachislavich, who reigned from 1044 to 1101. A 12th-century inscription commissioned by Vseslav's son Boris may still be seen on a huge boulder installed near the St. Sophia Cathedral. For a full list of the Polotsk rulers, see the list of Belarusian rulers. In 1240, Polotsk became a vassal of the Lithuanian princes; the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytenis annexed the city by military force in 1307, completing the process which the Lithuanian princes had begun in the 1250s. Polotsk received a charter of autonomy guaranteeing that the grand dukes "will not introduce new, nor destroy the old".
It was the earliest to be so incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By doing so, the Lithuanians managed to grasp the Dvina trade route in their hands, securing an important element for the surrounding economies. Magdeburg law was adopted in 1498. Polotsk functioned as a capital of the Połock Voivodship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772. Captured by the Russian army of Ivan the Terrible in 1563, it was returned to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania just 15 years later, it was again captured by Russia on 17 June 1654, but recaptured by Poland-Lithuania on 30 October 1660 during the Russo-Polish War. In 1773, with the First Partition of Poland, Russia seized Polotsk as part of the Russian Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Since the Russian Empress Catherine II did not acknowledge the Papal suppression of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit branches in these lands were not disbanded, Połock became the European centre of the Order, with a novitiate opening in 1780, with the arrival of distinguished Jesuits from other parts of Europe who brought with them valuable books and scientific collections.
Jesuits continued their pastoral work and upgraded the Jesuit College in Polotsk into the Połock Academy, with three faculties, four libraries, a printing house, a bookshop, a theatre with 3 stages, a science museum, an art gallery and a scientific and literary periodical, a medical-care centre. The school was the patron of the college in Petersburg, the mission to Saratów and an expedition to Canton; when in 1820 pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church influenced the Russian Emperor Alexander I to exile the Jesuits and to close the Academy, there were 700 students studying there. The Russian authorities broke up the Academy's library of 40,000-60,000 volumes, the richest collection of 16th- to 18th-century books - the books went to St. Petersburg and other cities, 4000 volumes going to the St. Petersburg State University Scientific Library; that period of warfare started the gradual decline of the city. After the first partition of Poland, Polotsk became reduced to the status of a small provincial town of the Russian Empire.
During the French invasion of Russia in 1812 the area saw two battles, the First Battle of Polotsk and the Second Battle of Polotsk. Polotsk came under occupation by the German Empire between 25 February 1918 and 21 November 1918 in World War I, by Poland between 22 September 1919 and 14 May 1920 in the Polish–Soviet War and by Nazi Germany between 16 July 1941 and 4 July 1944 in World War II. Polotsk functioned as the center of Polatsk Voblast between 20 September 1944 and 8 January 1954. A reorganisation of the area between Vitebsk and Molodechno voblasts left Polotsk part of the former; the city's Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Polotsk was a symbol of the independent-mindedness of Polotsk, rivaling churches of the same name in Novgorod and Kiev. The name referred to the original Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and thus to claims of imperial prestige and sovereignty; the cathedral had been ruined by the troops of Peter I of Russia. Hence the present baroque building by Johann Christoph Glaubitz dates fro
The Vistula–Oder Offensive was a successful Red Army operation on the Eastern Front in the European Theatre of World War II in January 1945. It saw the fall of Kraków, Warsaw and Poznań; the Red Army had built up their strength around a number of key bridgeheads, with two fronts commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Marshal Ivan Konev. Against them, the German Army Group A, led by Colonel-General Josef Harpe, was outnumbered 5:1. Within days, German commandants evacuated the concentration camps, sending the prisoners on their death marches to the west, where ethnic Germans started fleeing. In a little over two weeks, the Red Army had advanced 300 miles from the Vistula to the Oder, only 43 miles from Berlin, undefended, but Zhukov called a halt, owing to continued German resistance on his northern flank, the advance on Berlin had to be delayed until April. In the wake of the successful Operation Bagration, the 1st Belorussian Front managed to secure two bridgeheads west of the Vistula river between 27 July and 4 August 1944.
The Soviet forces remained inactive during the failed Warsaw uprising that started on 1 August, though their frontline was not far from the insurgents. The 1st Ukrainian Front captured an additional large bridgehead at Sandomierz, some 200 km south of Warsaw, during the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. Preceding the offensive, the Red Army had built up large amounts of materiel and manpower in the three bridgeheads; the Red Army outnumbered the opposing Wehrmacht in infantry and armour. All this was known to German intelligence. General Reinhard Gehlen, head of Fremde Heere Ost passed his assessment to Heinz Guderian. Guderian in turn presented the intelligence results to Adolf Hitler, who refused to believe them, dismissing the apparent Soviet strength as "the greatest imposture since Genghis Khan". Guderian had proposed to evacuate the divisions of Army Group North trapped in the Courland Pocket to the Reich via the Baltic Sea to get the necessary manpower for the defence, but Hitler forbade it. In addition, Hitler commanded that one major operational reserve, the troops of Sepp Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army, be moved to Hungary to support Operation Frühlingserwachen.
The offensive was brought forward from 20 January to 12 January because meteorological reports warned of a thaw in the month, the tanks needed hard ground for the offensive. It was not done to assist American and British forces during the Battle of the Bulge, as Stalin chose to claim at Yalta. Two Fronts of the Red Army were directly involved; the 1st Belorussian Front, holding the sector around Warsaw and southward in the Magnuszew and Puławy bridgeheads, was led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Zhukov and Konev had 163 divisions for the operation with a total of: 2,203,000 infantry, 4,529 tanks, 2,513 assault guns, 13,763 pieces of field artillery, 14,812 mortars, 4,936 anti-tank guns, 2,198 Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, 5,000 aircraft. 1st Belorussian Front 47th Army 1st Polish Army 3rd Shock Army 61st Army 1st Guards Tank Army 2nd Guards Tank Army 5th Shock Army 8th Guards Army 69st Army 33rd Army 1st Ukrainian Front 21st Army 6th Army 3rd Guards Army 13th Army 4th Tank Army 3rd Guards Tank Army 52nd Army 5th Guards Army 59th Army 60th Army Soviet forces in this sector were opposed by Army Group A, defending a front which stretched from positions east of Warsaw southwards along the Vistula to the confluence of the San.
At that point there was a large Soviet bridgehead over the Vistula in the area of Baranów before the front continued south to Jasło. There were three Armies in the Group; the force had a total complement of 450,000 soldiers, 4,100 artillery pieces, 1,150 tanks. Army Group A was led by Colonel-General Josef Harpe. Army Group A 9th Army LVI Panzer Corps XXXXVI Panzer Corps VIII Corps 4th Panzer Army XLII Corps XXIV Panzer Corps XLVIII Panzer Corps 17th Army LIX Corps XI Corps XI SS Panzer Corps German intelligence had estimated that the Soviet forces had a 3:1 numerical superiority to the German forces. In the large Baranow/Sandomierz bridgehead, the Fourth Panzer Army was required to defend from'strongpoints' in some areas, as it lacked the infantry to man a continuous front line. In addition, on Hitler's express orders, the two German defence lines were positioned close to each other, placing the main defences well within striking range of Soviet artillery; the offensive commenced in the Baranow bridgehead at 04:35 on 12 January with an intense bombardment by the guns of the 1st Ukrainian Front against the positions of the 4th Panzer Army.
Concentrated against the divisions of XLVIII Panzer Corp