1917-1922 1939-1945

Belarus 1922-1939

Despite its membership of the USSR, the BSSR kept her seat in the LEAGUE OF NATIONS. 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).
In the 1920es the BSSR enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy within the USSR. While the political dominance of the Communist Party was unchallenged, the BSSR's agricultural policy differed considerably from that of the RSFSR.
Cultural institutions, such as the BELARUSIAN STATE UNIVERSITY in Minsk were founded (1920), publications in Belarusian language increased in number.
At the end of the 1920es, Stalin now firmly in power, the situation changed dramatically. Belarusian communists suffered from the PURGES, many Belarusians, intellectuals, suspected 'petit-bourgeois', were arrested and tortured or deported; many Belarusian land-owning farmers were treated as KULAKS, Stalin's state enemy number one. The number of victims of Stalinism in Belarus (for the period until 1953, that is) is estimated at 1 million. In addition, a policy aiming at the RUSSIFICATION of Belarus was implemented; language reforms, beginning in 1933, aimed at assimilating Belarusian into Russian.
In 1933 the population of Belarus was given at 5,439,400, among them 384,000 Russians, 407,000 Jews and 97,000 Poles. The largest cities were Minsk (186,500), Vitebsk (130,500) and Gomel (127,100). Of the 3.131 million economically active persons, 2.742 million worked in agriculture, only 38,047 in the industrial sector.

Dismembered and Oppressed, from Notes from the History of Belarus by Jauhen Reshatau; scroll down
Administrative-Territorial Division of Belarus, from Archives of Belarus, scroll down for 1920es and 1930es
Genocide by Soviets at Kuropaty, Belarus 1937-1941, from Belarus Miscellaneous
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Belarus, by Ben Cahoon
REFERENCE Hübner's Weltstatistik, 73rd edition, edited by Ernst Rösner, Wien 1939, in German [G]
Article : USSR : White Russia, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1924 p.1263, 1925 p.1270, 1926 pp.1233-1234, 1928 pp.1273-1274, 1929 p.1250, 1932 p.1271, 1937 p.1295 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 28th 2002, last revised on August 24th 2007

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