Belarus 1917-1922

World War I began in 1914. In 1915 German troops occupied Russian Poland, Lithuania and Courland, the front line running, in south-northerly direction, through western Belarus. After the October Revolution, German troops marched east, occupying much of Belarus (except the easternmost areas); the PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK (March 3rd 1918) ended World War I in the east. In July 1917 the RADA (Belarusian Council) was created. In October 1917, during the October Revolution, an ALL-BELARUSIAN CONGRESS decided to proclaim an autonomous BELARUSIAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC; the congress was forcefully dissolved by the Bolzheviks. With the Bolzheviks expelled from central Belarus by the German forces, another All-Belarusian Congress on March 25th 1918 proclaimed the BELARUSIAN PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC (BPR) which received recognition from Austria and the Ottoman Empire, and from many other states newly independent, such as Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia and Czechoslovakia, but neither from Germany and the RSFSR nor from any of the Entente powers.
In the course of 1918 the Germans withdrew their forces; with the Bolzheviks gaining the upper hand in Russia's Civil War, they proclaimed the BYELORUSSIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC on Jan. 1st 1919. The BPR government, among them P. Krecheuski and V. Lastouski, fled to Lithuania; they went on to found an EXILE GOVERNMENT. Between February 27th and August 25th 1919, the Byelorusian and Lithuanian SSRs were merged into one (LITBEL; de facto it covered mainly Belarusian territory).
In the same year, Polish marshal JOSEF PILSUDSKI promoted the concept of a Polish-Belarusian-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Federation; the RUSSO-POLISH WAR of 1919-1920 ensued. It was terminated by the TREATY OF RIGA (1921), which awarded western Belarus to Poland.
Central Belarus, as the BSSR, joined the LEAGUE OF NATIONS. In 1922 the BSSR joined the SOVIET UNION (USSR). In 1924/1926, Eastern Belarus, with the cities of Vitebsk and Gomel, was annexed to the BSSR (the area hitherto had been part of the RSFSR). The capital of Belarus is Minsk.

Independence again - and its rapid loss, from Notes from the History of Belarus by Jauhen Reshatau; scroll down
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Belarus, by Ben Cahoon

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 27th 2002, last revised on November 8th 2004

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