Notes On Belarus

What’s with all the worms Belarus? The country is a worm graveyard. Not to be repressed, they keep coming. Everywhere I walk are worms striking out across footpaths and dying in the sun, halfway across. I’ve not seen this strange behaviour anywhere else.

In the morning I watch the worms as they writhe their way across the footpath. Later, all I see is the dehydrated husks motionless under the midday sun.


On Minsk

I’m not saying that there isn’t much to do in Minsk, but I did visit the Tractor Cultural Appreciation Centre. The one in Minsk was easily the best one in Belarus. Tractors!

Minsk was under serious development while I was there. The city are hosting the Ice Hockey World Championships in May so hotels are being built, stadia are being erected and roads are being paved. They even had fancy new flat-LED stop-lights.

As far as tourists go, I’m pretty much the only one except for a suspiciously high number of Chinese people around the town. I would later find out that Chinese people often come to Belarus to study Russian. It’s cheaper to study Russian in Belarus than it is in Russia. Smart thinking.

On Brest

The main attraction of Brest is the fortress that was built by the Polish centuries ago. The Polish recently possessed it to. After World War I they seized on the power vacuum east of Germany and reclaimed the lands they had lost to the Prussians, Habsburgs and the Russians over the past 250 years.

The Polish didn’t get to keep it for long. On September 1 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Two weeks later on September 17 1939, the Soviet Union, at that time in partnership with Nazi Germany, also invaded Poland. The Germans had successfully captured Brest and they handed it over to the Soviets. Most of the Polish in the fortress had successfully withdrawn from the fortress before it fell. Only one unit remained that decided to fight to the end.

Nazi Germany ended up attacking the Soviets. The resistance put up by the Soviets within Brest fortress was nigh indomitable. The soldiers carved into the stone how they would fight until they died. Which is what they did.

Brest Fortress

The place now is considered a ‘hero’ fortress and the entire place is a monument to Soviet resistance of Nazi Germany. There is a the briefest of mentions that the fortress was Polish at the start of the war, but it was liberated for strategic defence purposes. There was no mention of the Polish soldiers who fought to their deaths here.

when: Thursday, May 08, 2014