East Pomeranian Offensive
The East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive operation was an offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. It took place in Pomerania and West Prussia from 10 February – 4 April 1945; the operation happened in four phases: Konitz-Köslin Offensive Operation 24 February – 6 March 1945 Danzig Offensive Operation 7–31 March 1945 Arnswalde-Kolberg Offensive Operation 1–18 March 1945 Altdamm Offensive Operation 18 March – 4 April 1945 It was the East Pomeranian Offensive that prevented Zhukov from reaching Berlin in February, since it became a priority to clear German forces from Pomerania first. The 2nd Belorussian Front—under Konstantin Rokossovsky—had been tasked with advancing westward north of the Vistula River toward Pomerania and the major port city of Danzig, with the primary aim of protecting the right flank of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front, pushing towards Berlin. During the East Prussian Offensive, Rokossovsky was ordered to wheel directly north toward Elbing.
This left substantial German forces intact in Pomerania, where they threatened the right flank of Zhukov's formations. As a result, once the initial phase of the East Prussian Offensive was over, the 2nd Belorussian Front was redeployed with the intention of attacking westwards into Pomerania, eliminating the possibility of a German counter-offensive; the need to secure the flanks delayed the Soviets' final push towards Berlin, planned for February, until April. Joseph Stalin's decision to delay the push toward Berlin from February to April has been a subject of some controversy among both the Soviet generals and military historians, with one side arguing that the Soviets had a chance of securing Berlin much quicker and with much lower losses in February, the other arguing that the danger of leaving large German formations on the flanks could have resulted in a successful German counter-attack and prolonged the war further: the Germans did in fact mount a surprise counter-attack in Pomerania in mid-February, Operation Solstice.
The delay did, allow the Soviets to occupy significant parts of Austria in the Vienna Offensive. As early as 13 February, German intelligence services had deduced that the Soviets would seek to clear Pomerania before advancing on Berlin; the 2nd Army—defending a large and exposed sector running through Pomerania eastward toward the edge of East Prussia at Elbing — sought permission to withdraw, but this was denied by Adolf Hitler. Graudenz, on the Vistula, was surrounded on 18 February. Army Group Vistula 2nd Army XXXXVI Panzer Corps VII Panzer Corps XXVII Panzer Corps XXIII Corps XVIII Mountain Corps Fortress garrisons of Graudenz and Danzig Eastern flank of 3rd Panzer Army III SS Panzer Corps X SS CorpsThe corps of the Second Army were understrength by this time, being composed of fragmentary or ad hoc units; the 3rd Panzer Army had been rebuilt using the korps of the formed 11th SS Panzer Army, the original formation having been destroyed in Lithuania and East Prussia, where its remnants were now defending Königsberg.
2nd Belorussian Front Eastern flank of 1st Belorussian Front 3rd Shock Army 1st Guards Tank Army 2nd Guards Tank Army Rokossovsky opened the offensive on 24 February using the fresh troops of Kozlov's 19th Army, but after an initial advance of some 20 km they were halted by intense German resistance. On 26 February, he inserted the 3rd Guards Tank Corps east of Neustettin, where they achieved a penetration of 40 km, relieved Kozlov of command; the 3rd Guards Tank Corps broke through at Baldenburg, while Neustettin on the Front's left flank fell to the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps on 27 February. Weiß had hurriedly assembled the VII Panzer Corps, including the remnants of the 7th Panzer Division, at Rummelsburg to threaten 19th Army's flank. However, after a Soviet breakthrough at Köslin on 2 March, the 2nd Army found itself cut off from the rest of its Army Group. Zhukov's right wing—a grouping of the 3rd Shock Army and 1st and 2nd Guards Tank Armies—went over to the offensive on 1 March, striking northward with the main force concentrated at Reetz.
The entire left wing of 3rd Panzer Army was cut off by their breakthrough, after Guderian refused Raus' request for withdrawal. On 4 March, forward Soviet tank units reached the Baltic, the German forces in Pomerania were trapped in a series of encirclements; the 2nd Army began to fall back on the Danzig fortified area, while the X SS Corps of the 3rd Panzer Army had been surrounded at Dramburg. Rokossovksy opened the second phase of his offensive on March 6; the 2nd Shock Army threatened to cut off the defending forces in the fortress of Marienburg, evacuated two days while in the east Elbing fell on 10 March. The defence of Marienburg was conducted by a Kampfgruppe under the nominal control of the staff of the 7th Infantry Division, including marine, SS and other units. Weiß, having warned that the Elbing pocket could not be held, was relieved of command on 9 March and replaced by Dietrich von Saucken; the troops of the German 2nd Army withdrew in disarray into Danzig and Gdingen, where the 2nd Belorussian Front besieged them.
Zhukov's forces meanwhile, cleared the remainder of 3rd Panzer Army from the east bank of the lower O
Battle of Smolensk (1941)
The First Battle of Smolensk was a battle during the second phase of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, in World War II. It was fought around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km west of Moscow; the Wehrmacht had advanced 500 km into the USSR in the 18 days after the invasion on 22 June 1941. The German army encountered unexpected resistance during the battle, leading to a two-month delay in their advance on Moscow. Three Soviet armies were encircled and destroyed just to the south of Smolensk, though significant numbers from the 19th and 20th armies managed to escape the pocket; some historians have asserted that the losses of men and materiel incurred by the Wehrmacht during this drawn-out battle and the delay in the drive towards Moscow led to the defeat of the Wehrmacht by the Red Army in the Battle of Moscow of December 1941. On 22 June 1941, the Axis nations invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. At first, the campaign met with spectacular success, as the surprised Soviet troops were not able to offer coordinated resistance.
After three weeks of fighting, the Germans had reached the Dvina and Dnieper rivers and planned for a resumption of the offensive. The main attack aimed at Moscow, was carried out by Army Group Centre, its next target on the way to the Soviet capital was the town of Smolensk. The German plan called for the 2nd Panzer Group to cross the Dnieper, closing on Smolensk from the south, while the 3rd Panzer Group was to encircle the town from the north. After their initial defeats, the Red Army began to recover and took measures to ensure a more determined resistance and new defensive line was established around Smolensk. Stalin placed Field Marshal Semyon Timoshenko in command and transferred five armies out of the strategic reserve to Timoshenko; these armies had to conduct counter-offensives to blunt the German drive. The German high command was not aware of the Soviet build-up until they encountered them on the battlefield. Facing the Germans along the Dnieper and Dvina rivers were stretches of the Stalin Line fortifications.
The defenders were the 13th Army of the Western Front and the 20th Army, 21st Army and the 22nd Army of the Soviet Supreme Command Reserve. The 19th Army, was forming up at Vitebsk. In Soviet histories, the battles around Smolensk are divided into phases and operations to halt the German offensive and the pincers Battle of Smolensk Smolensk Defensive Operation Smolensk Offensive Operation Rogechev-Zhlobin Offensive Operation Gomel-Trubchevsk Defensive Operation Dukhovschina Offensive Operation Yelnia Offensive Operation Roslavl-Novozybkov Offensive Operation Prior to the German attack, the Soviets launched a counter-offensive; the result was a disaster, as the offensive ran directly into the anti-tank defenses of the German 7th Panzer Division and the two Soviet mechanized corps were wiped out. On 10 July, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group began a surprise attack over the Dnieper, his forces overran the weak 13th Army and by 13 July, Guderian had passed Mogilev, trapping several Soviet divisions.
His spearhead unit, the 29th Motorised Division, was within 18 km of Smolensk. The 3rd Panzer Group had attacked, with the 20th Panzer Division establishing a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dvina river, threatening Vitebsk; as both German panzer groups drove east, the 16th, 19th and 20th armies faced the prospect of encirclement around Smolensk. From 11 July, the Soviets tried a series of concerted counter-attacks; the Soviet 19th Army and 20th Army struck at Vitebsk, while the 21st and the remnants of the 3rd Army attacked against the southern flank of 2nd Panzer Group near Bobruisk. Several other Soviet armies attempted to counter-attack in the sectors of the German Army Group North and Army Group South; this effort was part of an attempt to implement the Soviet prewar general defense plan. The Soviet attacks managed to slow the Germans but the results were so marginal that the Germans noticed them as a large coordinated defensive effort and the German offensive continued. Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group drove north and east, parallel to Guderian's forces, taking Polotsk and Vitebsk.
The 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Division reached the area east of Smolensk at Yartsevo on July 15. At the same time, the 29th Motorized Division, supported by the 17th Panzer Division broke into Smolensk, captured the city except for the suburbs and began a week of house-to-house fighting against counter-attacks by the 16th Army. Guderian expected that the offensive would continue towards Moscow as its main focus and sent the 10th Panzer Division to the Desna River to establish a bridgehead on the east bank at Yelnya and cleared that as well by the 20th; this advanced bridgehead became the center of the Yelnya Offensive, one of the first big coordinated Soviet counter-offensives of the war. This objective was 50 km south of the Dnepr and well clear of the objective of liquidating the armies trapped at Smolensk. Under Fuhrer Directive 33 issued on July 14, the main effort of the Wehrmacht was re-orientated away from Moscow
The Baltic Fleet is the fleet of the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea. Established 18 May 1703, under Tsar Peter the Great as part of the Imperial Russian Navy, the Baltic Fleet is the oldest Russian Navy formation. In 1918 the fleet was inherited by the Russian SFSR the Soviet Union in 1922, where it was known as the Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet as part of the Soviet Navy, as during this period it gained the two awards of the Order of the Red Banner. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Baltic Fleet was inherited by the Russian Federation and reverted to its original name as part of the Russian Navy; the Baltic Fleet is headquartered in Kaliningrad and its main base in Baltiysk, both in Kaliningrad Oblast, another base in Kronshtadt, Saint Petersburg in the Gulf of Finland. The Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet was created during the Great Northern War at the initiative of Czar Peter the Great, who ordered the first ships for the Baltic Fleet to be constructed at Lodeynoye Pole in 1702 and 1703.
The first commander was a recruited Dutch admiral, Cornelius Cruys, who in 1723 was succeeded by Count Fyodor Apraksin. In 1703, the main base of the fleet was established in Kronshtadt. One of the fleet's first actions was the taking of Shlisselburg. In 1701 Peter the Great established a special school, the School of Mathematics and Navigation, situated in the Sukharev Tower in Moscow; as the territory to the west around the Gulf of Finland was acquired by Russia for a "warm-water" port giving access for its merchantmen and the buildup of a naval force, the city of St. Petersburg was built and developed an extensive port; the School of Mathematics and Navigation was moved to St. Petersburg and in 1752 it was renamed the Naval Cadet Corps. Today it is the St. Petersburg Naval Institute – Peter the Great Naval Corps; the Baltic Fleet began to receive new vessels in 1703. The fleet's first vessel was the 24-gun three-masted frigate Shtandart, she was the fleet's flagship, is a prime example of the increasing role of the frigate design.
By 1724, the fleet boasted 141 sail hundreds of oar-propelled vessels. During the Great Northern War, the Baltic Fleet assisted in taking Viborg, Riga, the West Estonian archipelago and Turku; the first claimed victories of the new Imperial Russian Navy were the Gangut in 1714 and, the Grengam in 1720. From 1715, the English Royal Navy intervened in the Baltic Sea on behalf of the German principality of Hanover, more or less in a tacit alliance with Russia. During the concluding stages of the war, the Russian fleet would land troops along the Swedish coast to devastate coastal settlements. However, after the death of King Charles XII, the Royal Navy would rather protect Swedish interests after a rapprochement between the Kingdom of Sweden and King George I. A Russian attempt to reach the Swedish capital of Stockholm was checked at the Battle of Stäket in 1719; the losses suffered by the Russian Navy at the Grengam in 1720, as well as the arrival of a Royal Navy squadron under Admiral John Norris prevented further operations of any greater scale before the war ended in 1721.
During the "Seven Years' War", the Russian Baltic Sea fleet was active on the Pomeranian coast of northern Germany and Prussia, helping the infantry to take Memel in 1757 and Kolberg in 1761. The Oresund was blockaded in order to prevent the British Navy from entering the Baltic sea. During the Russo-Swedish War the fleet, commanded by Samuel Greig, checked the Swedes at Hogland and the Viborg. An impetuous Russian attack on the Swedish galley flotilla on 9 July 1790 at the Second Battle of Svensksund resulted in a disaster for the Russian Navy who lost some 9,500 out of 14,000 men and about one third of their flotilla; the Russian defeat in this battle ended the war. During the series of Russo-Turkish Wars, the fleet sailed into the Mediterranean Sea on the First and Second Archipelago Expeditions and destroyed the Ottoman Imperial Navy at the sea Battles of Chesma, the Dardanelles and Navarino. At about the same time, Russian Admiral Ivan Krusenstern circumnavigated the globe, while another Baltic Fleet officer — Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen — discovered the southern ice-covered continent, Antarctica.
In the Crimean War, the fleet – although stymied in its operations by the absence of steamships – prevented the British and French Allies from occupying Hangö, Saint Petersburg. Despite being outnumbered by the technologically superior Allies, it was the Russian Fleet that introduced into naval warfare such novelties as torpedo mines, invented by Boris Yakobi. Other outstanding inventors who served in the Baltic Fleet were Alexander Stepanovich Popov, Stepan Makarov, Alexei Krylov, Alexander Mozhaiski; as early as 1861, the first armor-clad ships were built for the Baltic Fleet. In 1863, during the American Civil War, most of the Fleet's ocean-going ships, including the flagship Alexander Nevsky were sent to New York City. At the same time ten Uragan-class monitors based on the American-designed Passaic- class monitors were launched, it was the policy of the Czar and his government to show support for the Northern Union Army in the United States during their Civil War, observin
Białystok is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Białystok is the tenth-largest city in Poland, second in terms of population density, thirteenth in area. Białystok located in the Białystok Uplands of the Podlaskie Plain on the banks of the Biała River, it has attracted migrants from elsewhere in Poland and beyond from Central and Eastern Europe. This is facilitated by the fact that the nearby border with Belarus is the eastern border of the European Union, as well as the Schengen Area; the city and its adjacent municipalities constitute Metropolitan Białystok. The city has a Warm Summer Continental climate, characterized by warm summers and long frosty winters. Forests are an important part of Białystok's character, occupy around 1,756 ha which places it as the fifth most forested city in Poland; the first settlers arrived in the 14th century. A town grew up and received its municipal charter in 1692. Białystok has traditionally been one of the leading centers of academic and artistic life in Podlachia and the most important economic center in northeastern Poland.
Białystok was once an important center for light industry, the reason for the substantial growth of the city's population. The city continues to reshape itself into a modern metropolis. Białystok in 2010, was on the short-list, but lost the competition to become a finalist for European Capital of Culture in 2016; the English translation of Białystok is "white slope". Due to changing borders and demographics over the centuries, the city has been known as Belarusian: Беласток, Yiddish: ביאַליסטאָק, Lithuanian: Baltstogė, Balstogė, Russian: Белосток. Linguist A. P. Nepokupnyj proposes. Names with the -stok suffix as a second element of a hydronym are localized in the basin of the upper Narew. Archaeological discoveries show that the first settlements in the area of present-day Białystok occurred during the Stone Age. Tombs of ancient settlers can be found in the district of Dojlidy. In the early Iron Age a mix of Prussians and Wielbark culture people settled in the area producing kurgans, the tombs of the chiefs in the area located in the current village of Rostołty.
Since the Białystok area has been at the crossroads of cultures. Trade routes linking the Baltic to the Black Sea favored the development of settlements with Yotvingia-Ruthenian-Polish cultural characteristics; the city of Białystok has existed for five centuries and during this time the fate of the city has been affected by various political and economic forces. Surviving documents attest that around 1437 a representative of the Raczków family, Jakub Tabutowicz of the coat of arms Łabędź, received from Michael Žygimantaitis son of Sigismund Kęstutaitis, Duke of Lithuania, a wilderness area along the river Biała that marked the beginning of Białystok as a settlement; the first brick church and a castle were built between 1617 and 1826. The two-floor castle, designed on a rectangular plan in the Gothic-Renaissance style, was the work of Job Bretfus. Extension of the castle was continued by Krzysztof Wiesiołowski, starost of Tykocin, Grand Marshal of Lithuania since 1635, husband of Aleksandra Marianna Sobieska.
In 1637 he died childless, as a result Białystok came under the management of his widow. After her death in 1645 the Wiesiołowski estate, including Białystok, passed to the Commonwealth to cover the costs of maintaining Tykocin Castle. In the years 1645–1659 Białystok was managed by the governors of Tykocin and was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1661 it was given to Stefan Czarniecki as a reward for his service in the victory over the Swedes during the Deluge. Four years it was given as a dowry of his daughter Aleksandra, who married Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki, thus passing into the hands of the Branicki family. In 1692, Stefan Mikołaj Branicki, the son of Jan Klemens Branicki, obtained city rights for Białystok from King John III Sobieski, he constructed the Branicki Palace on the foundations of the castle of the Wiesiołowski family. In the second half of the eighteenth century the ownership of the city was inherited by Field Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki, it was he who transformed the palace built by his father into a magnificent residence of a great noble.
The end of the eighteenth century saw the division of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in three steps, among the neighboring states. The Kingdom of Prussia acquired the surrounding region during the third partition; the city became the capital of the New East Prussia province in 1795. Prussia lost the territory following Napoleon Bonaparte's victory in the War of the Fourth Coalition as the resultant 1807 Treaties of Tilsit awarded the area to the Russian Empire, which organized the region into the Belostok Oblast, with the city as the regional center. At the end of the nineteenth century, the majority of the city's population was Jewish. According to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 66,000, Jews constituted 41,900; this heritage can be seen on the Jewish Heritage Trail in Białystok. The Białystok pogrom occurred between 14–16 June 1906 in the city. During the pogrom between 81 and 88 people were killed, about 80 people were wounded; the first Anarchist groups to attract a significant following of Russian workers or peasants, were the Anarcho-Communist Chernoe-Znamia groups, founded in Białystok in 1903.
During World War I the Bialystok-Grodno District was the admin
Wolin is the name both of a Polish island in the Baltic Sea, just off the Polish coast, a town on that island. Administratively the island belongs to the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. Wolin is separated from the island of Usedom by the Strait of Świna, from mainland Pomerania by the Strait of Dziwna; the island has an area of 265 km2 and its highest point is Mount Grzywacz at 116 m above sea level Water from the river Odra flows into the Szczecin Lagoon and from there through the Peene west of Usedom, Świna and Dziwna into the Bay of Pomerania in the Baltic Sea. Most of the island consists of postglacial hills. In the middle is the Wolin National Park; the island is a main tourist attraction of northwestern Poland, it is crossed by several specially marked tourist trails, such as a 73-kilometer-long trail from Międzyzdroje to Dziwnówek. There is a main, electrified rail line, which connects Szczecin and Świnoujście, plus the international road E65 crosses the island; some etymologists believe that the name is related to the name of the ancient historical region of Volhynia.
The origins of the name would come from the resettled Volynians who named the island Volyn. The ford across the river Dzwina on which Wolin is located has been used as far back as the Stone age. Archaeological excavations of soil layers indicate that there was a settlement in the area during the Migration period, at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries; the place was abandoned for one hundred years. At the end of the 8th or the beginning of the 9th century the area was leveled and a new settlement constructed; the earliest evidence of fortifications dates to the first half of the 9th century. In the second half of the 9th century there was a central fortified area and two suburbs, to the north and south of the center; these became fortified between the end of the 9th and the 10th centuries. A medieval document from the mid-9th century, called the Bavarian Geographer after its anonymous creator, mentions the Slavic tribe of Wolinians who had 70 strongholds at that time; the town of Wolin was first mentioned in 965, by Ibrahim ibn Jakub, who referred to the place as Weltaba.
The period of greatest development during the medieval period occurred between the 9th and the 11th centuries. Around 896 AD a new port was constructed and the main part of the town acquired new, stronger fortifications, including a wooden palisade made of halved 50 centimeter wide tree trunks, a rampart and a retaining wall. Archaeologists believe that in the Early Middle Ages Wolin was a great trade emporium, spreading along the shore for four kilometers and rivaling in importance Birka and Hedeby. Around 972 the island became controlled by Poland, under prince Mieszko I. However, it has not been established if it was a fief. Polish influences were not firm and they ended around 1007. In the following years Wolin became famous for its pirates, who would plunder ships cruising the Baltic; as a reprisal, in 1043 it was attacked by the Norwegian king Magnus the Good. In the early 12th century the island, as part of the Pomeranian duchy, was captured by the Polish king Boleslaw III Wrymouth. Shortly after, the inhabitants of Wolin accepted Christianity, in 1140 pope Innocent II created a diocese there, with its capital in the town of Wolin.
In 1181 the dukes of Pomerania decided to accept the Holy Roman emperor as their liege lord instead of the Polish king. In 1535 Wolin accepted Protestant Lutheranism. In 1630 the island was captured by Sweden. Pomerania became part of Brandenburg-Prussia. Wolin followed in 1679. From 1871, the town was part of Germany. After the Second World War and the Allied agreements that resulted in the transfer of Western Pomerania to Poland in 1945, the German population was forcibly expelled to Germany and was replaced with Poles, expelled from territories in eastern Poland annexed by the Soviet Union. Archaeological finds on the island are not rich but they dot an area of 20 hectares, making it the second-largest Baltic marketplace of the Viking Age after Hedeby; some scholars have speculated that Wolin may have been the basis for the semi-legendary settlements Jomsborg and Vineta. However, others have rejected the identification, or the historical existence of Jomsborg and Vineta. Gwyn Jones notes that the size of the town was exaggerated in contemporary sources, for example by Adam of Bremen who claimed Wolin/Jomsborg was "the largest town in Europe".
Archaeological excavations however have found no evidence of a harbor big enough for 360 warships or of a major citadel. The town was inhabited by both Scandinavians. A golden disc bearing the name of Harald Bluetooth and Jomsborg appeared in Sweden in autumn 2014; the disc called the Curmsun Disc, is made of high gold content and has a weight of 25,23 gram. On the obverse there is a Latin inscription and on the reverse there is a Latin cross with four dots surrounded by an octagonal ridge; the inscription reads: "+ARALD CVRMSVN+REX AD TANER+SCON+JVMN+CIV ALDIN+" and translates as "Harald Gormsson king of Danes, Jomsborg, town Aldinburg". It is assumed that the disc was a part of a Viking hoard found in 1840 in the Polish village Wiejkowo near the town of Wolin by Heinrich Boldt, the maternal great-great-grandfather of Hollywood actors and producers Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck; the disc was rediscovered in 2014 by an eleven year old schoolgirl who found it in an old casket and brought it to school.
Annually, the island is home to Europe's biggest Germanic-Slavic Viking festival. Curmsun
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war is a person, whether a combatant or a non-combatant, held in custody by a belligerent power during or after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1660. Belligerents hold prisoners of war in custody for a range of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, such as isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field, demonstrating military victory, punishing them, prosecuting them for war crimes, exploiting them for their labour, recruiting or conscripting them as their own combatants, collecting military and political intelligence from them, or indoctrinating them in new political or religious beliefs. For most of human history, depending on the culture of the victors, enemy combatants on the losing side in a battle who had surrendered and been taken as a prisoner of war could expect to be either slaughtered or enslaved; the first Roman gladiators were prisoners of war and were named according to their ethnic roots such as Samnite and the Gaul.
Homer's Iliad describes Greek and Trojan soldiers offering rewards of wealth to opposing forces who have defeated them on the battlefield in exchange for mercy, but their offers are not always accepted. Little distinction was made between enemy combatants and enemy civilians, although women and children were more to be spared. Sometimes, the purpose of a battle, if not a war, was to capture a practice known as raptio. Women had no rights, were held as chattel. In the fourth century AD, Bishop Acacius of Amida, touched by the plight of Persian prisoners captured in a recent war with the Roman Empire, who were held in his town under appalling conditions and destined for a life of slavery, took the initiative of ransoming them, by selling his church's precious gold and silver vessels, letting them return to their country. For this he was canonized. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, the nun Geneviève pleaded with the Frankish king for the welfare of prisoners of war and met with a favourable response.
Clovis I liberated captives after Genevieve urged him to do so. Many French prisoners of war were killed during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415; this was done in retaliation for the French killing of the boys and other non-combatants handling the baggage and equipment of the army, because the French were attacking again and Henry was afraid that they would break through and free the prisoners to fight again. In the Middle Ages, a number of religious wars aimed to not only defeat but eliminate their enemies. In Christian Europe, the extermination of heretics was considered desirable. Examples include the Northern Crusades; when asked by a Crusader how to distinguish between the Catholics and Cathars once they'd taken the city of Béziers, the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric famously replied, "Kill them all, God will know His own". The inhabitants of conquered cities were massacred during the Crusades against the Muslims in the 11th and 12th centuries. Noblemen could hope to be ransomed. In feudal Japan, there was no custom of ransoming prisoners of war, who were for the most part summarily executed.
The expanding Mongol Empire was famous for distinguishing between cities or towns that surrendered, where the population were spared but required to support the conquering Mongol army, those that resisted, where their city was ransacked and destroyed, all the population killed. In Termez, on the Oxus: "all the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, divided in accordance with their usual custom they were all slain"; the Aztecs were at war with neighbouring tribes and groups, with the goal of this constant warfare being to collect live prisoners for sacrifice. For the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed. During the early Muslim conquests, Muslims captured large number of prisoners. Aside from those who converted, most were enslaved. Christians who were captured during the Crusades, were either killed or sold into slavery if they could not pay a ransom. During his lifetime, Muhammad made it the responsibility of the Islamic government to provide food and clothing, on a reasonable basis, to captives, regardless of their religion.
The freeing of prisoners was recommended as a charitable act. On certain occasions where Muhammad felt the enemy had broken a treaty with the Muslims, he ordered the mass execution of male prisoners, such as the Banu Qurayza. Females and children of this tribe were divided up as spoils of war by Muhammad; the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, established the rule that prisoners of war should be released without ransom at the end of hostilities and that they should be allowed to return to their homelands. There evolved the right of parole, French for "discourse", in which a captured officer surrendered his sword and gave his word as a gentleman in exchange for privileges. If he swore not to escape, he could gain the freedom of the prison. If he swore to cease hostilities against the nation who held him captive, he could be repatriated or exchanged but could not serve against his former captors in a military capacity. Ea
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