History of GrodnaHrodna (or Grodna) (also: Hóradnia, Haródnia); Belarusian: Ãðî́äíà, Ãî́ðàäíÿ, Ãàðî́äíÿ; Lithuanian Gardinas ; Grodno in Polish, Ãðî́äíî; in Russian) is a city in Belarus. It is located at 53°40′ N 23°50′ E, on the Neman river, close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania (about 15 km and 30 km away respectively). It has 317,366 inhabitants (2005 estimate). It is the capital of Hrodna voblast.
History of GrodnaThe modern city of Hrodna originates with a small fortress and a fortified trading outpost founded by Ruthenian princes at the end of the 11th century. Located on the crossing of numerous trading routes, the settlement flourished and in 12th and 13th centuries it was a capital of a separate principality. This town was center of Cherno-Russia ("Black Rus") until the early 13th century. However, in 1240 it was completely destroyed by Tatars. Both the principality and the city lost most of their wealth and in 1376 the area became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
To aid the reconstruction of trade and commerce, the Grand Dukes allowed for the creation of a Jewish commune in Grodna (as it was called back then) in 1389. It was one of the first Jewish communities in the Lithuanian state. In 1441 the city received its charter, based on the Magdeburg Law. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, which created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the city was passed to the Kingdom of Poland and became the capital of a Grodno Voivodship.
An important centre of trade, commerce, and culture, Grodno remained one of the places where the Sejms were held. Also, a royal palace built there was often visited by Polish-Lithuanian monarchs. For instance, in 1586 king Stefan Batory of Poland died there. In 1793 the last Sejm in the history of Poland occurred at Grodno. Two years afterwards, in 1795, Russia overran the city in the Third Partition of Poland. It was in Grodno on November 25 of that year that the last Polish king Stanisław August Poniatowski abdicated. In the Russian Empire, the city continued to serve its role as a seat of a guberniya. The industry, started in late 18th century by Antoni Tyzenhauz, continued to dwell.
Hrodna was occupied by Germany in 1915 and ceded by Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. After World War I, the German government gave the city to the short-lived Belarusian National Republic (BNR), and the administration of that state was established in Hrodna. (However, the military authority 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 the Bolshevist Russia, so on April 27, 1919, they passed the authority to Poland. The city was seized by the Polish Army the following day and the Polish administration was established in the city. The city was lost to the Red Army on July 19, 1920, in the effect of the Polish strategic withdrawal towards Warsaw. The city was also claimed by Lithuanian government, who was promised during the July 12, 1920 talks in Moscow, that it would be transferred to Lithuania. However, a Soviet defeat in the Battle of Warsaw made the plans obsolete, and Lithuanian authority was never established in the city. Instead, the Red Army organised its last stand in the city and waged the Battle of Neman there. On September 23 the Polish Army recaptured the city. After the final Bolshevik defeat and the Peace Treaty of Riga, the city remained in Poland.
Initially, prosperity suffered due to the fact that the city remained only a capital of a powiat, while the capital of 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. Also, the city was a notable centre of Jewish culture, with roughly 42% of the city's population being Jewish.
During the Polish Defence War of 1939, the garrison of Grodno was mostly used for creation of numerous military units fighting against the invading Wehrmacht. In the course of the Soviet invasion of Poland initiated on September 17, there was heavy fighting in the city between Soviet and improvised Polish forces, composed mostly of march battalions and volunteers. In the course of the Battle of Grodno (September 20–September 22), the Red Army lost approximately 800 men while the Polish side suffered at least 100 killed in action. Many more where shot in mass executions after being imprisoned. After the Polish units were surrounded, the remaining units withdrew to Lithuania.
In accordance with the Nazi-Soviet Alliance, the city was annexed by the Soviet Union to the Belarusian SSR, and several thousand of the city's Polish inhabitants were deported to remote areas of the Soviet Union. In 1941, the city came under German occupation, which lasted until July 1944. In the course of the World War II, the majority of Grodno's remaining Jews perished in German concentration camps.
In 1945, the city was reannexed to the Belarusian SSR until 1991, when it became part of the independent Republic of Belarus.
This text is taken from Wikipedia and published at Radzima.org according to GNU Free Documentation License
Hrodna. : Places of interest | selected photos
Evangelical Reformers Church in Hrodna
Hrodna. : Lost heritage | Photo
Radziwill Palace in Grodno. Photo 1915-1918
Town Hall in Grodno, photo before 1939
Orthodox church of St. Marfa in Grodna
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