220th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
The 220th Rifle Division was a Red Army motorized infantry division, re-organised shortly after the German invasion as a standard rifle division. The division distinguished itself in at least three battles, it was credited with the liberation of the cities of Orsha and Minsk in the first stages of the Destruction of Army Group Center. Shortly after it shared credit for the liberation of the city of Grodno; the division was first organized as the 220th Motorized Rifle Division beginning in April, 1941 in the area of Smolensk. It was commanded by Major General N. G. Khoruzhenko and consisted of: 653rd Motorized Rifle Regiment 673rd Motorized Rifle Regiment 137th Tank Regiment 660th Artillery Regiment 295th Reconnaissance Battalion 381st Sapper Battalion, it was part of the 23rd Mechanized Corps. When Operation Barbarossa began the 220th was in the early stages of forming up and was poorly equipped. Trucks and other motor vehicles were in short supply, the tank regiment had no tanks at all. For practical purposes the division was motorized in name only, within a month the decision was made to reform the 220th as a standard rifle division.
The division operated as part of the 23rd Mechanized Corps, itself part of 19th Army in June and July 1941, but by 1 August 1941, was shifted into 32nd Army, part of the Reserve Front. The division was in 32nd Army of Reserve Front, east of Smolensk, on July 21 when the reformation began, its order of battle became: 376th Rifle Regiment 653rd Rifle Regiment 673rd Rifle Regiment 660th Artillery Regiment 381st Sapper Battalion. In August the 220th was moved to 49th Army in Reserve Front. In early October the division, now in 31st Army, was surrounded north of Vyasma by German forces in Operation Typhoon. Remnants of the division were able to escape from encirclement to join 29th Army in Kalinin Front by Oct. 10. The 653rd Rifle Reg't. was least affected by these events, fought detached from the rest of the division in 22nd Army for most of the winter. In May, 1942, the 220th went into Kalinin Front reserves to be rebuilt; the division, now back in 31st Army, took part in the First Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation, fighting in the northeast outskirts of Rzhev itself in the late summer and autumn of 1942.
The 220th would remain in this Army for the duration, although it was attached to 68th Army in September, 1943. In a once-more weakened state the division held its positions on the left bank of the Volga through the winter. On Mar. 2 - 3, 1943 it joined in the liberation of Rzhev as the German Ninth Army withdrew from the salient. 31st Army pursued the German forces as best it could through the devastated territory and the spring rasputitsa, coming to a halt against a new German fortified line at the base of the former salient on Mar. 31. The new commander of the 220th, Col. V. A. Polevik, summarized, but the losses were significant." From April to early August the 220th rested and fortified its positions in anticipation of a German summer offensive. Following the German defeat at Kursk and Western Fronts prepared their own offensive through the Smolensk land bridge to liberate that city; the operation was a long, grinding affair against thick German defenses, the division contributed by helping to retake the towns of Spas-Demensk, Dukhovshchina and Dorogobuzh.
On Sept. 25, Smolensk was liberated. The slow advance continued by starts through the autumn and winter along the Dnepr River. At this time the division was part of 45th Rifle Corps. By March, 1944, the division was so worn down that each rifle regiment had only two rifle battalions, each battalion had only two rifle companies and a sub-machinegun platoon; this was just 40% of approved strength in infantry, but the 660th Artillery Reg't. was at full strength and was motorized with a mix of Lend-Lease and Soviet vehicles. During the final years of the war, the Red Army substituted firepower for manpower, many rifle divisions fought with these strengths; the 220th had its infantry component strengthened before the summer offensive. At the outset of this operation on June 22, 1944, the division was in 36th Rifle Corps of 31st Army in Gen. I. D. Chernyakovsky's 3rd Belorussian Front; the 220th soon distinguished itself by taking a leading role in the liberation of Orsha. By order of the Supreme High Command of 27 June 1944 and a commendation in Moscow, the troops who participated in the battles for the liberation of Orsha are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.""MINSK -...220th Rifle Division...
By order of the Supreme High Command of 3 July 1944 and a commendation in Moscow, the troops who participated in the battles for the liberation of Minsk are given a salute of 24 artillery salvoes from 324 guns." At the end of July the division participated in the liberation of Grodno, near the border with Poland, was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. For his leadership during the fighting near Grodno, political officer Captain Kirill Koshman of the 376th Rifle Regiment was named a Hero of the Soviet Union; the 220th continued advancing into northern Poland, East Prussia and Pomerania with its Front during late 1944 and early 1945, b
The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase, incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location; the commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Appointed at the last minute in August 1914, he played no part in formulating the military plans in use at the beginning of the war. Nikolai Yanushkevich was his chief of staff. In the summer of 1915 the Tsar himself took personal command, with Mikhail Alekseyev as his chief of staff. In the years 1915–1917 Stavka was based in Mogilev and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief; the Stavka was divided into several departments: Department of General-Quartermaster Department of General on Duty Department of military transportations Naval department Diplomatic chancery The Stavka was first established in Baranovichi.
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Stavka re-located to Mogilev. 19 July 1914 – 18 August 1915: Lieutenant-General Nikolai Yanushkevich 18 September 1915—01.04.1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 November 1916 – 17 February 1917: General of Cavalry Vasily Gurko 11 March 1917—05.04.1917: General of Infantry Vladislav Klembovsky 5 April 1917 – 31 May 1917: Lieutenant-General Anton Denikin 2 June 1917 – 30 August 1917: Lieutenant-General Alexander Lukomsky 30 August 1917 – 9 September 1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 October 1917—03.11.1917: Lieutenant-General Nikolay Dukhonin 3 November 1917—07.11.1917: Major General Mikhail Dieterichs 7 November 1917—02.1918: Major General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich The Stavka of the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II, or the headquarters of the "Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR", was established on 23 June 1941 by a top-secret decree signed by Joseph Stalin in his capacities both as the head of government and as the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to this decree Stavka was composed of the defence minister Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the head of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Marshal Semyon Budyonny and the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov. The same decree organized at Stavka "the institution of permanent counsellors of Stavka": Marshal Kulik, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Kirill Meretskov, head of the Air force Zhigarev, Nikolay Vatutin, head of Air Defence Voronov, Kaganovich, Lavrenty Beria, Zhdanov, Mekhlis. Soon afterwards, the deputy defence minister of the army, was arrested following false charges made by Beria and Merkulov. Meretskov was subsequently released from jail on the same day, at the end of the first week of September 1941, called for by Stalin. Stavka's Main Command was reorganized into the Stavka of the Supreme Command on 10 July 1941; this action occurred after Stalin was named Supreme Commander, replaced Timoshenko as head of Stavka.
On 8 August 1941 it was again reorganized into Stavka of the Supreme Main Command. On the same day Strategic Directions commands were instituted. A 17 February 1945 decree set out the membership of Stavka as Stalin, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Aleksei Antonov, Nikolai Bulganin and Kuznetsov. General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Creation of the Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of USSR
Rzhev is a town in Tver Oblast, located 49 kilometers southwest of Staritsa and 126 kilometers from Tver, on the highway and railway connecting Moscow and Riga. It is the uppermost town situated on the Volga River. Population: 61,982 . Rzhev was founded in the Middle Ages and rivals Toropets as the oldest town in the region. Rzhevians point out that their town is mentioned in the Novgorod laws as early as 1019, their neighbors from Toropets, on the other hand, give more credence to Rzhev's first mention in a major chronicle under 1216, when it was in possession of Mstislav the Bold, Prince of Toropets. Whatever the truth may be, it is clear that medieval Rzhev was bitterly contested by three regional powers—the Novgorod Republic, the Principality of Smolensk, the Grand Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal. Following the Mongol invasion, Rzhev passed to a lateral branch of the Smolensk dynasty, which made the town its capital; the princes divided the town in two parts, which are still called the Prince-Dmitry's Side and Prince-Theodor's Side.
In the mid-14th century, they had a hard time repelling attacks from Algirdas of Lithuania and Grand Princes of Tver, who bought all the villages around the town. They left for Moscow, where their descendants have become comic characters of many a joke. In the meantime, the town was occupied for a short space by Tver, Poland-Lithuania, by the Grand Duchy of Moscow. In the course of the administrative reform carried out in 1708 by Peter the Great, Rzhev was included into Ingermanlandia Governorate, in 1727 Novgorod Governorate split off. In 1775, Tver Viceroyalty was formed from the lands which belonged to Moscow and Novgorod Governorates, Rzhev was transferred to Tver Viceroyalty, which in 1796 was transformed to Tver Governorate. In 1775, Rzhevsky Uyezd was established, with the center in Rzhev. In the 18th century, local merchants of Old Believer confession, brought a great measure of prosperity to the town. On 12 July 1929, governorates and uyezds were abolished, Rzhevsky District with the administrative center in the town of Rzhev was established.
It belonged to Rzhev Okrug of Western Oblast. On August 1, 1930 the okrugs were abolished, the districts were subordinated directly to the oblast. On 29 January 1935 Kalinin Oblast was established, Rzhev was transferred to Kalinin Oblast. In 1990, Kalinin Oblast was renamed Tver Oblast. During World War II, Rzhev was occupied by German troops from 14 October 1941 to 3 March 1943. More than one-sixth of the population was sent off to forced labor in Germany during the Nazi occupation and some nine thousand residents were shot, starved, or tortured to death in a concentration camp set up in the center of town. During this occupation, the general area of Rzhev and Vyazma was the site of a set of major military operations between the Red Army and Nazi German military forces; these operations, which resulted in a great loss of civilian and military life, are referred to as the Battles of Rzhev and completely wiped out the population of the town. No old architecture survived these battles. Within the framework of administrative divisions, Rzhev serves as the administrative center of Rzhevsky District though it is not a part of it.
As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as Rzhev Okrug—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, Rzhev Okrug is incorporated as Rzhev Urban Okrug. Rzhev produces most of the cranes used in constructing apartment buildings and shopping malls in Moscow; the railway which connects Moscow and Riga runs through Rzhev. Another railway connecting Torzhok with Vyazma via Rzhev, crosses it from north to south. There is passenger railway traffic; the M9 highway connecting Moscow with Riga passes Rzhev. Two other roads connect Rzhev with Ostashkov via Selizharovo. There are local roads with bus traffic originating from Rzhev; the Volga is navigable, there is no passenger navigation. It was home to the Bakhmutovo air bases during the Cold War. Rzhev contains 15 cultural heritage monuments of federal significance and additionally 72 objects classified as cultural and historical heritage of local significance; the federal monuments include the Church of John the Baptist built in the 19th century, monuments to soldiers and civilians fallen in World War II, as well as a number of archeological sites.
There is a local museum in Rzhev. As a controversial move, in 2013 the Joseph Stalin Museum was opened in a building where Joseph Stalin had spent one night in 1943 while inspecting the troops; as of 2015, the museum did not have regular opening hours and was only open by appointment, trying to keep a low profile. Rzhev is twinned with: Katrineholm, Sweden Salo, Finland Legionowo, Poland Kovel, Ukraine Silistra, Bulgaria Gütersloh, Germany Законодательное Собрание Тверской области. Закон №34-ЗО от 17 апреля 2006 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Тверской области», в ред. Закона №66-ЗО от 1 октября 2014 г. «О внесении изменения в статью 18 Закона Тверской области "Об административно-территориальном устройстве Тверской области"». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Тверские ведомости", №17, 19 апреля 2006 г. (Legislative Assembly of Tver Oblast. Law #34-ZO of April 17, 2006 On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of Tver Oblast, as amended by the Law #66-ZO of October 1, 2014 On Amending Article 18 of the Law of Tver Oblast "On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of T
Stavropol is a city and the administrative center of Stavropol Krai, Russia. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 398,539, it was known as Voroshilovsk. The name Stavropol is a Russian rendition of the Greek name, meaning "the City of the Cross". According to legend, soldiers found a stone cross there while building the fortress in the city's future location, it was founded on October 22, 1777 following the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 as a military encampment, was granted city status in 1785. Prince Grigory Potemkin, who founded Stavropol as one of ten fortresses built between Azov and Mozdok at the request of Catherine the Great, played a leading role in the creation of the city. Don Cossacks those from the Khopersky Regiment, settled the area in and around the cities of Stavropol and Georgiyevsk with a mission to defend borders of the Empire. Alexander I in 1809 invited several Armenian families to settle by the fortress, in order to encourage trade in the region. Stavropol's strategic location aided in the Russian Empire's conquest of the Caucasus.
By the early 19th century the city grew into a busy trade center of the North Caucasus. In 1843, an Episcopal see of the Russian Orthodox Church was established in Stavropol and in 1847 the city became the seat of Stavropol Governorate. During the Russian Civil War the city changed hands several times and was captured by the Red Army from the Volunteer Army of general Anton Denikin on January 29, 1920; the city was renamed Voroshilovsk on May 5, 1935, after Kliment Voroshilov, but the original name was restored in 1943. The Great Patriotic War took a heavy toll on the city and between August 3, 1942 and January 21, 1943 Stavropol was occupied by the Germans and its airport was used as a base for the Luftwaffe to bomb Soviet oil supplies in Grozny; the city was recaptured by the Soviet Army in January, 1943. Since 1946, natural gas has been extracted near the city. Stavropol is the administrative center of the krai. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with one rural locality, incorporated as the city of krai significance of Stavropol—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.
As a municipal division, the city of krai significance of Stavropol is incorporated as Stavropol Urban Okrug. Stavropol's economy focuses on the production of automobiles and construction equipment and materials; the city relies on air transport and highway connections to other Russian cities. Stavropol's population includes a significant number of refugees escaping the strife or instability of the Russian border regions and Caucasus nations to the south. Stavropol has an association football team called FC Dynamo Stavropol; the main educational institutions of the town include North-Caucasus Federal University, Stavropol State Agrarian University, Stavropol State Medical University. The area of Russia in which Stavropol resides is mountainous, placing the city in the midst of the northern Caucasus mountain range; the city has one of the biggest city parks in Russia,'Central Park' covering up to 12 hectares. The city, like many other Russian cities has its own botanical garden, which covers up to 18 hectares, including 16 hectares of natural woods.
Stavropol experiences a humid subtropical climate, bordering a oceanic climate or, following the 0 °C isotherm, a humid continental climate, with short but cold winters and hot summers. Precipitation is rather low, with a 562 millimeters annual average. Stavropol is not protected by the mountains in the winter months, so it can get cold; the lowest temperature recorded in Stavropol was −28.3 °C on 8 February 2012, while the highest was +39.7 °C on 8 August 2006. Well-known Russians who have visited or resided in Stavropol include: Generals Alexander Suvorov, Alexey Yermolov, Nikolay Raevsky, the poets Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov, who were in political disfavor, the surgeon Nikolay Pirogov, Alexander Griboyedov, Leo Tolstoy, the national poet of Ossetia, Kosta Khetagurov; the first and only executive president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was born in Stavropol Krai and spent several years working in the city of Stavropol as the head of the krai's administration. Gorbachev's chief mentor, long-time friend, predecessor Yuri Andropov was born in Stavropol Krai.
Stavropol is twinned with: Des Moines, United States Béziers, France Pazardzhik, Bulgaria Yerevan, Armenia Zhenjiang, China Ставропольская городская Дума. Решение №81 от 25 апреля 2008 г. «Об Уставе города Ставрополя», в ред. Решения №662 от 17 июня 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в Устав муниципального образования города Ставрополя Ставропольского края». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования, за исключением положений, для которых установлены иные сроки введения в действие. Опубликован: "Вечерний Ставрополь", №84, 29 апреля 2008 г.. Государственная Дума Ставропольского края. Закон №9-кз от 1 марта 2005 г. «Об административно-территориаль
Mogilev is a city in eastern Belarus, about 76 kilometres from the border with Russia's Smolensk Oblast and 105 km from the border with Russia's Bryansk Oblast. As of 2011, its population was 360,918, up from an estimated 106,000 in 1956, it is the third largest city in Belarus. The city is mentioned in historical sources since 1267. From the 14th century it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, since the Union of Lublin, part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where it became known as Mohylew. In 16th-17th century the city flourished as one of the main nodes of the east-west and north-south trading routes. In 1577 Polish-Lithuanian King Stefan Batory granted it city rights under Magdeburg law. In 1654, the townsmen negotiated a treaty of surrender to the Russians peacefully, if the Jews were to be expelled and their property divided up among Mogilev's inhabitants. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovitch agreed. However, instead of expelling the Jews, the Russian troops massacred them after they had led them to the outskirts of the town.
The city was set on fire during the Great Northern War. After the First Partition of Poland Mogilev became part of the Russian Empire and became the centre of the Mogilev Governorate. In the years 1915–1917, during World War I, the Stavka, the headquarters of the Russian Imperial Army was based in the city and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief. Following the Russian Revolution, in 1918, the city was occupied by Germany and placed under their short-lived Belarusian People's Republic. In 1919 it was captured by the forces of Soviet Russia and incorporated into the Byelorussian SSR. Up to World War II and the Holocaust, like many other cities in Europe, Mogilev had a significant Jewish population: according to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 41,100, 21,500 were Jews. During the Operation Barbarossa, the city was conquered by Wehrmacht forces on 26 July 1941 and remained under German occupation until 28 June 1944. Mogilev became the official residence of High SS and police leader Erich von dem Bach.
During that period, the Jews of Mogilev were ghettoized and systematically murdered by Ordnungspolizei and SS personnel. Heinrich Himmler witnessed the executions of 279 Jews on 23 October 1941; that month a number of mentally disabled patients were poisoned with car exhaust fumes as an experiment. Initial plans for establishing a death camp in Mogilev were abandoned in favour of Maly Trostenets. In 1944, the utterly devastated city was reconquered by the Red Army and returned to Soviet domination. Mogilev was the site of a labour camp for German POW soldiers. Since Belarus gained its independence in 1991 Mogilev has remained one of its principal cities. Mohilev was the episcopal see of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Mohilev until its 1991 merger into the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev, it remains the see of the Eparchy of Mogilev and Mstsislaw in the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. After World War II a huge metallurgy centre with several major steel mills was built.
Several major factories of cranes, tractors and a chemical plant were established. By the 1950s, tanning was its principal industry, it was a major trading centre for cereal, salt, fish and flint: the city has been home to a major inland port on the Dnieper river since and a airport since. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of Belarus as an independent country, Mogilev has become one of that country's main economic and industrial centres; the town's most notable landmark is the late 17th-century town hall, named the Ratuša, built during the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The grand tower of the town hall sustained serious damage during the Great Northern War and the Great Patriotic War, it was demolished in 1957 and rebuilt in its pre-war form in 2008. Another important landmark of Mogilev is the six-pillared St. Stanisław's Cathedral, built in the Baroque style between 1738 and 1752 and distinguished by its frescoes; the convent of St. Nicholas preserves its magnificent cathedral of 1668, as well as the original iconostasis, bell tower and gates.
It is under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Minor landmarks include the archiepiscopal palace and memorial arch, both dating from the 1780s, the enormous theater in a blend of the Neo-Renaissance and Russian Revival styles. At Polykovichi, an urban part of Mogilev, there is a 350 metre tall guyed TV mast, one of the tallest structures in Belarus. Mogilev has a warm-summer humid continental climate. Matest M. Agrest and mathematician Modest Altschuler, orchestra conductor Abe Anellis, microbiologist Irving Berlin, American composer Petr Elfimov, musician Alyona Lanskaya, singer Joseph Lookstein, Rabbi Leonid Isaakovich Mandelshtam, physicist Andrey Melnikov and recipient of Hero of the Soviet Union award Stanisław Julian Ostroróg, Polish count, Crimean War veteran, noted Victorian Photographic portraitist, naturalised British subject David Pinski, Yiddish playwright Lev Polugaevsky, International Grandmaster of chess Leo Rogin and Writer Otto Schmidt, mathematician, geophysicist, academician Issai Schur, mathematician Spiridon Sobol, Belarusian enlightener and printer, in 1631 he publis
Grodno, or Hrodna is a city in western Belarus. It is located on the Neman close to the borders of Lithuania, it has 373,547 inhabitants. It is the capital of Grodno District. In Belarusian, the city is sometimes referred to as Го́радня or Гаро́дня. In Latin it was known as Grodna, in Polish as Grodno, in German as Garten, in Yiddish as גראָדנע, Grodne; the Lithuanian name of the city is Gardinas. The modern city of Grodno originated as a small fortress and a fortified trading outpost maintained by the Rurikid princes on the border with the lands of the Baltic tribal union of the Yotvingians; the first reference to Grodno dates to 1005. The official foundation year is 1127. At this year Grodno was mentioned in the Primary Chronicle as Goroden' and located at a crossing of numerous trading routes, this Slavic settlement originating as far as the late 10th century, became the capital of a poorly attested but separate principality, ruled by Yaroslav the Wise's grandson and his descendants. Along with Navahrudak, Grodno was regarded as the main city on the western borderlands of Black Ruthenia.
The border region neighboured the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was attacked by various invaders the Teutonic Knights. In the 1240–1250s the Grodno area, as well as the most of Black Ruthenia, was controlled by princes of Lithuanian origin to form the Baltic state—Grand Duchy of Lithuania—on these territories. After the Prussian uprisings a large population of Old Prussians moved to the region; the famous Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas was the prince of Grodno from 1376 to 1392, he stayed there during his preparations for the Battle of Grunwald. Since 1413, Grodno had been the administrative center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship. To aid the reconstruction of trade and commerce, the grand dukes allowed the creation of a Jewish commune in 1389, it was one of the first Jewish communities in the grand duchy. In 1441 the city received its charter, based on the Magdeburg Law; the city was the site of two battles, Battle of Grodno and Battle of Grodno during the Great Northern War. After the First Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Grodno became the capital of the short-lived Grodno Voivodeship in 1793.
As an important centre of trade and culture, Grodno remained one of the places where the Sejms were held. The Old and New Castles were visited by the Commonwealth monarchs including famous Stephen Báthory of Poland who made a royal residence here. In 1793 the last Sejm in the history of the Commonwealth occurred at Grodno. Two years afterwards, in 1795, Russia obtained the city in the Third Partition of Poland, it was in the New Castle on November 25 of that year that the last Polish king and Lithuanian grand duke Stanisław August Poniatowski abdicated. In the Russian Empire, the city continued to serve its role as a seat of Grodno Governorate since 1801; the industrial activities, started in the late 18th century by Antoni Tyzenhaus, continued to develop. Count Aleksander Bisping was arrested and imprisoned here during the January Uprising before his exile to Ufa. Like many other cities in Eastern Europe, Grodno had a significant Jewish population before the Holocaust: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 46,900, Jews constituted 22,700.
After the outbreak of World War I, Grodno was occupied by Germany and ceded by Bolshevist Russia under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. After the war the German government permitted a short-lived state to be set up there, the first one with a Belarusian name—the Belarusian People's Republic; this declared its independence from Russia in March 1918 in Minsk, but the BNR's Rada had to leave Minsk and fled to Grodno. All this time the military authority in the city remained in German hands. After the outbreak of the Polish–Bolshevik War, the German commanders of the Ober Ost feared that the city might fall to Soviet Russia, so on April 27, 1919 they passed authority to Poland; the city was taken over by the Polish Army the following day and Polish administration was established in the city. The city was lost to the Red Army on July 20, 1920 in what became known as the First Battle of Grodno; the city was claimed by Lithuanian government, after it was agreed by the Soviet–Lithuanian Treaty of 1920 signed on July 12, 1920 in Moscow that the city would be transferred to Lithuania.
However, Soviet defeat in the Battle of Warsaw made these plans obsolete, Lithuanian authority was never established in the city. Instead, the Red Army organised its last stand in the city and the Battle of Neman took place there. On September 23 the Polish Army recaptured the city. After the Peace Treaty of Riga, Grodno remained in Poland. Prosperity was reduced due to the fact that the city remained only the capital of a powiat, while the capital of the voivodship was moved to Białystok. However, in the late 1920s the city became one of the biggest Polish Army garrisons; this brought the local economy back on track. The city was a notable centre of Jewish culture, with 37% of the city's population being Jewish. During the Polish Defensive War of September-October 1939 the garrison of Grodno was used for the formation of numerous military units fighting against the invading Wehrmacht. In the course of the Soviet invasion of Poland heavy fighting took place in the city between Soviet and improvised Polish forces, composed of march
Navahrudak is a city in the Grodno Region of Belarus. In the 14th century it was an episcopal, it is a possible first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with Trakai noted as a possibility. It was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire and Poland until the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 when the Soviet Union annexed the area to the Byelorussian SSR, it was first mentioned in the Sophian First Chronicle and Fourth Novgorod Chronicle in 1044 in relation to a war of Yaroslav I the Wise against Lithuanian tribes. In 1241 it was destroyed by the Mongols, it was mentioned in the Hypatian Codex under the year of 1252 as Novogorodok the town was a major settlement in the remote western lands of the Krivichs that came under the control of the Kievan Rus at the end of the 10th century. Hypothesis is disputed, as there are earliest archaeological findings from 11th century only. In the 13th century, the fragile unity of the Kievan Rus disintegrated due to nomadic incursions from Asia, which reached a climax with the Mongol Horde's Siege of Kiev, resulting in Kiev's sacking, leaving a geopolitical vacuum in the region to be known under the conventional name Black Ruthenia.
The Early East Slavs splintered along preexisting tribal lines into a number of independent and competing principalities. Mindaugas of Lithuania made use of the plight to annex Navahrudak, which became part of Kingdom of Lithuania Grand Duchy of Lithuania. During the 16th century, Maciej Stryjkowski was the first who, in his chronicle, proposed theory, that Navahrudak became the capital of the 13th century state; this statement is supported by several other scholars, while others dispute this notion because contemporary chronicles of the 13th century do not give any reference about Navahrudak as capital stating that city was transferred to the king of Galicia–Volhynia. Vaišvilkas, the son and successor of Mindaugas, took monastic vows in Lavrashev Monastery near Novgorodok and founded an Orthodox convent there. Navahrudak was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Union of Lublin in 1569. In 1795 it was incorporated into Grodno Governorate of Imperial Russia due to the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
It was transferred to Minsk Governorate in 1843. The town was a center of thriving Jewish community, its 1900 population was 5,015. In the course of the First World War the town was under the German occupation from 22 September 1915 to 27 December 1918. During the ensuing Polish-Bolshevik war it was occupied by the Polish Army in 18 April 1919 and the Red Army in 19 July 1920 and the Polish one in 1 October 1920, it was ceded to the Second Polish Republic in the Peace of Riga signed on 18 March 1921 by the Soviet Russia and Poland, thus ending the hostilities. In the interwar period, Nowogródek served as capital of the Nowogródek province, until the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Soviet troops entered the city in 18 September 1939 and it was annexed into the Soviet Union via the Byelorussian SSR; the Polish inhabitants were exiled to Siberia and the Soviet Union, as prisoners. In the administrative division of the new territories, the city was the centre of the Navahrudak Voblast.
Afterwards the administrative centre moved to Baranavichy and name of voblast was renamed as Baranavichy Voblast, the city became the centre of the Navahrudak Raion. On 22 June 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the USSR and Navahrudak was occupied on 4 July, following one of the more tragic events when the Red Army was surrounded in what's known as the Novogrudok Cauldron. See Operation Barbarossa: Phase 1. During the German occupation it became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland territory. Partisan resistance began; the Bielski partisans made of Jewish volunteers operated in the region. On 1 August 1943, Nazi troops shot down the Martyrs of Nowogródek; the Red Army reoccupied the city exactly three years after its German occupation on 8 July 1944. During the war more than 45,000 people were killed in the city and in the surrounding area, over 60% of housing was destroyed. Navahrudak was shtetl, it was home to the Novardok yeshiva, led by Rabbi Yosef Yozel Horwitz, as well as the hometown of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein and of the Harkavy Jewish family, including Yiddish lexicograph Alexander Harkavy.
Before the war, the population was 20,000. During a series of "actions" in 1941, the Germans killed all but 550 of the 10,000 Jews; those not killed were sent into slave labor. After the war, the area remained part of the Byelorussian SSR, USSR, a rapid rebuilding process restored most of the destroyed infrastructure. On 8 July 1954, following the disestablishment of the Baranavichy Voblast, the raion, along with Navahrudak became part of the Hrodna Voblast, in which it remains to this day, in modern Belarus. Navahrudak Castle, sometimes anachronistically called Mindaugas' Castle, was built in the 14th century and is in ruins since being burnt down by the Swedes in 1706; the Orthodox SS. Boris and Gleb Church, Belarusian Gothic, started in 1519, but not completed until the 1630s; the Roman Catholic Transfiguration Church (1712–23, includes surviving chapels of an older gothic