December 2013 Version 1
“Yurovichi,” Kalinkovichisky News. 06/12/2011
In 2007 archaeologists and employees of district department of emergency services were trying to clear Yuravichi’s mystery of hidden subterranean passages to Mozyr and Kiev as never before. They dig the ground under the arches of being restored Catholic church and collegium and also around them manually either with excavator. Volunteers from Pollesky agricultural college and Kalinkovichesky lyceum, students of Belarussian and Polish universities helped them to do it. To make the search more effective they used the gadget invented by scientists of Belarussian Ministry of emergency services – infrared imager. It can define voids in the ground from a bird’s eye view. But the search was made in vain. They have not found anything around stone buildings of collegium and the church, though it seemed the subterranean passage was about to show up.
So are there Yuravichi undergrounds which are expected to have connection with Mozyr and even with Kiev? They are haven’t still founded yet. Why still? Because according to sources of information they do exist. There goes the evidence. When I was reading the decription of Yuravichi in the article “Opisanie cserkvei i prihodov Minskoi Eparhii. IV. Rechickiy V’ezd (Minsk, 1879) I payed my attention on the next lines which had not been noticed before: ” Long long ago on the Yuravichi’s mountains there was Yuriev – the town with fortress Vidolichi and Orthodox Cloister with Mother of God miracle-working icon”. According to the legend this icon appeared in Yuravichi and the date of appearance is also known so we can believe that the authentic miracle-working icon appeared in Yuravichi Orthodox Cloister.
During the disasters which Tartar invasion brought to Russian lands the town and the Cloister were razed to the ground. Only their names were left in folklore: Vidolichi and Cserkovishche mountain. A lately founded subterranean passage in the mountain is the evidence of the legend certainty. This finding was mentioned in the document which was printed 130 years ago so it is logical that the archaeologists and posse picked out the wrong place to dig out. Cserkovishche and the church and collegiums are divided by the ditch which used to be the riverbed of Pripyat in subglacial period. Nowadays it is the road from Yuravichi to Hoyniki. The distance between them is some hundred meters. Historically Cserkovishche is more ancient than the church and collegium. According to the previously mentioned article the construction of Yuravichi Catholic Church was finished in 1715 while the Orthodox Cloister near Yuriev and Vidolichy fortress were ruined and burnt out during the Tartar invasion which started in the beginning of XII century and lasted for the next 3 centuries. Exactly at that time people built subterranean passages in their fortresses to escape from treacherous enemies.
In the XVIII century when the stone Catholic Church was built on the adjoining mountain opposite Cserkovishche there was no need of subterranean passages because the church was defied with 3-metre-high stone walls with loopholes towers. This is why the archaeologists should find the subterranean passages at the site of Cserkovishche which is situated in Yuravichi mountain behind the early man site in Vidolichi street. The legends about Yuravichi subterranean passages have been existing since the Tartar invasion and based certainly on the facts.
In 1834 Yuravichi consisted of town(51 homesteads) and village(66 homesteads). Yuravichi was the center of Yuravichesky parish in Rechitsa district of Minsk province. Bagumila Harevich was the owner of Yuravichi at that time and Yuravichi also was a country estate of Askery. The peasants of Bagumila Harevich were reduced to poverty so they were ragged and ate orach and nettle. And then they had to do corvee work for 123 days a year and do labor conscription for 20 days a year(the duties were building and maintaining roads, bridges, weirs and landowners’ projects. The peasants were also supposed to pay metayage which included 3 pounds of dry mushrooms, three fourth of dry bilberries, one fourth of dry nuts, geese and chicken. They also paid quitrent for using landowner’s land and hayfields. Some of the serfs had the privilege to bark lime-trees for making bast shoes, dig clay for making tableware and cut down pine stubs for making torches of splinters. In 1836 the wooden Orthodox Church of St.Mary was built in Yuravichi In 1846 Yuravichi became an ancestral land of Askery. The town and the village numbered 115 homesteads at that time.
On the 19th of February 1862 the tsar emancipation manifesto was proclaimed from the Yuravichi church’s ambo. It proclaimed the emancipation of the serfs on private estates and of the household serfs. Vladimir Isaenko describes this event in his book “Yuravichi nad Pripyatiy” : “ The peasants were amazed. They gathered, clamoured and made plans. Free soil is good, but it’s still shared and it’s going to be divided from time to time. Freedom is even better but quit rent remains and new taxes imposed. Nevertheless the peasants write and signed the paper to the Tsar where they promised to serve forever and expressed their gratitude.
The peasants started to recover their dignity though they were lack of consciousness. Anna Gorchanko(daughter of Uravichi volost chairman Ivan Telesh) says: “Landowners who had been cheated by tsar were being chased in forests. The tsar asked them to sign some papers to dismiss prisoners. Landowners thought that their relatives would be released. But the document they had signed applied to serfs. So landowners gathered in gangs had to hide in the woods. They had hided near Kononova glade but they were late. Serfs followed them thumping drums. Then they caught and tied them”. Some landowners dig the arms into the ground near Vidolishi and scattered tryign to find a shelter.
The governor-general M.Muravyev suppressed the uprising in a tough way, established martial law, carried out measures to undermine the influence of nobility and church. Later it led to further split between nobility and orthodox peasants. The parochial priest described the event in his complaint: “A hundred of Cossacks came to Yuravichi to cut down the altars in the Catholic church, break the statues of twelve apostles and the organ costing more than 6 thousand rubles.
In 1864 in the building of local Catholic church Orthodox church started to work. Egan Shencs from Barbarova started to serve there. From 1866 till 1916 minister Aleksander Birukovich was serving there.
The reconstruction of church to an orthodox one was conducted under the direction of province architect S.Ivanov from 1872 till 1874. The document of acceptance was signed on the 18th of September 1876 and the church was called “Cserkov Presvyatoi Bogorodicsi”( the Most Holy Mother of God Church).
Ignatii Melej(grandfather of popular Belarussian writer Ivan Melej) was the chairman of council in Yuravichi at that time. He was concerned about education of local inhabitants. Due to his effort a public college for men opened there in 1865. A public college for women opened in 1875.
In 1874 the lands of Yuravichi were set out on sale. Many peasants were dreaming of buying a part of it. D.I.Lucskevich the old resident of Uravichi describes that event in the book “Pamyat.Kalinkovicheskiy rayon” (Minsk., Yrojai, 1999): “When the lands of Yuravichi were set out on sale representatives of peasants went to landowner Soltan. They argued for a long time because they had little money. It seemed they came to an agreement to buy 1000 dessiatinas (measure of land = 10,900 sq. metres or 2.7 acres) for less than 40 rubles per one. They also bought 3 fields, market gardens near Vidolichi , the forest near Litvin and the pasture. One unsophisticated peasant who was pointing the chairs asked the landowner if he could take them. The landowner turned red and told them to get away. The peasants, crouching, jumped out of the room.
In 1874 the estate went to Bakunenok for 20 rubles per dessiatina. But for peasants it turned into a long struggle for their rights with the landlord to pasture cattle, to mushroom and berry and harvest wood…” A rich farmer from Radul, Ivan Bakunenok became the owner of Yuravichi lands (3950 dessiatinas). Reapers who worked on Bakunenka got 15-20 kopecks working 14-16 hours a day; mowers got 25-30 copecks. According to the 1897 population census the population of the town was 1,320 and there were 201 homesteads, the church, a chapel, 2 prayer schools, 40 stores, 4 leather workshops, 2 taverns. The village was inhabited by 600 people and there were 108 homesteads, a chapel, 2 public schools, a postal-telegraph office, a pharmacy, a bread store, 2 wind mills, a horse mill and a tavern. A farm of the same name was located between the town and the village.
The old resident of Yuravichi A.I.Kozlovsky describes the prerevolutionary town in the book “Pamyt. Kalinkovicheskiy rayon” : Yuravichi was different at that times. Things were humming and there were more people. You could see a lot of stores, mills, workshops. Potters, blacksmiths worked here. In the end of the ditch which was popularly called “Na Libedi” behind Kavalchykov there was a windmill. Its owner was Fedor Lucskevich. The other windmill’s owner was Olka Karchava. A horse mill’s owners were Esel Katcsen and his son Girsh. Three blind horses turned millstones. They made cereals, fine-ground and coarse-ground flour and vegetable oil. The vegetable oil was produced with a special roller to get oilcake. There were three kinds of cereals and barley was grinded to white flour. Many people gathered near the windmill so a kind of a house was built there for those who were waiting in line. The house of Vladimir Ivanenko is located at that place now.
The brickworks was located at Haudarovski ditch. Yankel Fridman and Pinya Kofman burnt bricks there. Zyama Zilbershtein owned several stores. One of them was a dining hall during Soviet times. Ilya Kofman also had a store. The train that transported goods from Pripyat was owned by Zus Mikulicski. Elka Buhman owned a pharmacy where Aron Gucsevich was a pharmacist. In general all the trade and cottage crafts were controlled by Jews.
Besides the Catholic and Othodox churches there were three synagogues in Yuravichi. Old Christian graves were over the bridge along the road. Over the sawmill, there are sand mills. People often found crosses around them. The chapel was located near the graves. One day people had found a sabre when digging the grave but later they realized it had been the act of sacrilege so they put it back. At the site of the kindergarten there were even 4 chapels!
Jewish gardens in Yuravichi were very large and generous. Apple trees of different kinds grew and bore there but especially famous kind was “Raneti” – now there is no such a kind. The synagogue was located in the present-day Varoyskogo street where Buglak is leaving now. Firstly Jewish graves were in the centre of the town near the estate of Kozlovsky. People always found silver cups there. Then the graves were relocated to the mountain on Vidolichi where you can see tombstones now.
At “Bazarnaya Ploshchad” there was an open market. A street lamp was lighted to light up the area. People kept guard there.
Russian social-democratic revolution ideas in the beginning of the 20th century reached the town Uravichi. Social oppression of parochial peasants and Jewish became so unbearable that the youth started to gather in groups, read political leaflets and going over to public fights.
According to the historical chronicle “Pamyat. Kalinkovichesky Rayon” the revolutionary-minded group in Yuravichi consisted of Yulian (brother and sister), Anisim, Leonid, Victoria and Polina Kozlovsky, Gerol Myalanich, Semen Kachanovsky, Afanasiy, Ivan, Pavel and Yakov Telesh, Domenik Lucskevich, Aron Gurevich, Mihail Gorchanko and others.
The peasants were tired of unbearable order and opposed the landowner. Mihail Gorchanko describes it in the chronicle: “If want to pick mushrooms you have to work for the landowner for 3 days. The same thing for harvesting wood, fishing… We could pasture cattle for free but the landowner made a new order so you had pay for everything like pasturing, washing and transporting cattle through the landowner’s lands. Violators were caught by guards on the horses or by foresters while there were no jobs and the jobless rate was high. Making 30-40 copecks a day was pretty good for an auxiliary worker. At the height of harvest time mower could make 25-30 copecks a day, a reaper could make 15-20, a teenager could make 5-10 copecks. But fines were exacted in rubles.
Afanasiy Telesh remembers that time: At Krivensky ditch in Vidolichi parochial revolutionaries started to hold a rally. Gerol Myalanich had distinguished speech against so-called “money-bags”. One hot day in July 30 people gathered and went to fields. Some of them were holding sticks, the other ones were holding their hands in their bosom pretending they got a gun. The landowner Bakunenko who had been keeping his eye on them was frightened. We told him: “How much will you pay mowers? –“ 75 copecks”. “What about reapers?” – “40 copecks”. Well, our claim is paying reapers 75 copeck and paying mowers a ruble. But for now we go on a strike. Bakulenka had to accept it. But authorities did not. Interrogations, raids, searches and arrests started..
Soon Yakov and Pavel Telesh were put into Rechitsa prison. The report to the secretary of the interior said that in Yuravichi disturbances of peasants led to a strike and its masterminds were peasants Pavel and Yakov Telesh.
In October Yuravichi dwellers took part in skirmish with gendarmes in Mozyr. The end was tragic: soldiers fired back on the peasants. 5 citizens were killed, 17 – injured. Arrests started again. The soldiers caught Ivan and Andrew Telesh. Yulian Kozlovskiy had time to escape. The arrested people were beaten but they could not lay the fault on them. The village constable Chernyak was notably cruel. He burst into the houses of revolutionaries, beat their fathers to get the information about the rebels. But it had its effect.
Cruel repressions took place in the country more often. Gerol Myalyanich was sent into exile where in 1917 he died soon. According to the military court’s penalty Valatkovich was hanged on July 6,1906 in Bobruisk fortress. Yulian Kozlovsky escaped to Austria where tsarist government reached him but he succeeded to escape from the prison making a sap with his friends. Then he went back to his hometown but provocateur Pikovski betrayed him. Yulian was sent to convict prison for 7 years where he died trying to escape for 3 times before that.
The details of February events in Petrograd reached Yuravichi only 3 week after it. But the news about overthrow of tsar government was received with no-confidence. For a month and a half after the overthrow Fedor Melej was still governing according to the law of Russian Empire.
In April the description of organizing provisional executive committee was delivered. On the 14 of April,1917 during the volost minting the committee was elected. It consisted of priest Gahovich(elected as a president of the committee), an estate owner Karolin Eyplav, parochial medial assistant Bartashevich, teacher Poznyak and Ziserman as a representative of Jewish part of population, a peasant from Slabodka Zmitro Klyampach and ex-president of volost Fedor Melej.
By order of provisional government in May people’s cattle was supposed to be requisitioned. But it was not as easy to carry out. People started to argue who exactly would give cattle to a new power. Poor peasants suggested giving cattle of the rich. Those suggested giving an equal amount of cattle. The mutual decision was not reached at the first volost meeting. On the second day Stepan and Mihail Akulinko came to Yuravichi from Tulgavichi. Stepan was a socialist revolutionary who just came back from exile. At the gathering in Rechitsa on May 21-23 he insisted on acceptation of the next terms: landowners give 75% of cattle for requisition, peasants – 25%.
During the volost gathering new provisional volost committee was elected. Mihail Akulenka was elected as a president instead of Gahocich. Instead of the medical assistant – a peasant from Yjinecs Sergei Leshchenko.
The major part of peasants was not agreed with the committee’s decision. They insisted on requisition of only landowners’ cattle. But the executive committee had an objection.
After that Stepan Akulenko who understood the peasants’ sentiments and needs started to figure prominently in political life of volost. During another volast gathering he suggested registering all the landowners’ estates and property and sending this information to Rechitsa executive committee. Akulenko went to Rechitsa to carry it out where he became a president of Rechitsa Uyezd council. But the plan had not been performed so the major part of peasants was dissatisfied with it. At their request a new president of committee became Zmitro Klyampach. But the executive committee blocks all the peasants’ suggestions. This is why in the end of summer 1917 Yuravichi dweller Martin Kozlovsky creates a volast Soviet of working-class and army delegates which is functioning along with the executive committee in Rechitsa.
So the period of dual power in Yuravichi started. The first volost Soviet was not elected but consisted of decisive and revolutionary-minded persons: Martin Kozlovsky as a president, Sergei Leshcheno, Kostuchenko, Zmitrok Ivanocich, Potashko as a secretary.
The struggle for power between the executive committee and volost Soviet committee was flaring up. The major part of dwellers supported the voslost committee. The working-class was unionized by teacher Yulian Popel. Peasant Soviets were created in Slobodka, Ogorodniki, Yuravichi villages. The question of requisitioning of landowners’ lands and property was put. The local volost committee hampers the executive committee so the last one insisted on disbanding of volost committee. But it was not carried out because the Red October came.
People in Yuravichi learnt about proletarian revolution in the 10th of November 1917(in the old style). At first Yuravichi dwellers learnt from their relatives in Petrograd and Moscow that the power of Kernsky had been defeated. The parochial committees kept functioning along without making any orders. Although there were no fights on the days of October everyone lived all of a jump. Till November 22 they believed that the new power is still provisional power. Then came the delegates of Rechitsa Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and the rally gathered decided to disband the parochial executive committees. The Soviet delegates explained the idea of Soviet power – transferring landowners’ lands to peasants. All the rally’s participants said aye unanimously. Young soldiers form Kernsky army came to Soviet army to protect its power. The estates started to be confiscated. The property was confiscated as well but soils had been sowed so it was decided to split them in spring. But it wasn’t carried out.
The spring of 1918 was wonderful. But it was not wonderful for the people at Polessye. German army and Petlyra’s soldiers marched into Yuravichi. But peasants who just relished the taste of freedom could not get along with the oppression. Before German army marched into the town the leader of Yuravichi’s youth a 20-year-old Filip Nagornyi gathered his friends and told them: “My friends! We can’t let a German foot touch our lands. Take up your arms and let’s go to the woods. We’ll show there whose land it is”.
In the end of May, 1918 bolshevik Shahov came to Yuravichi volast from Gomel to organize parochial peasantry for guerilla struggle. During the congress in Smolensk Shahov and Kavalchyk had come to the agreement of organizing an underground committee to struggle against invaders. The committee consisted of Fefor Nagornyi, Ivan, Pavel, Semen Telesh from Yuravichi, Grigoryi Dobrovolskyi from Abuhavshchina, Borisenko from Lomysh and others.
As a result guerilla groups had been created which in time turned into numerous detachments: the detachments of Petr Korolev in Ogorodniki and Filip Nagornyi in Uravichi.
Nobody taught a 20-year-old Filip how to fight. He was working for landowner for all his life. But only one thought appeared in his mind when invaders came – The enemy must be defeated! So he directed all his youthful energy to carry out the idea especially as because he had the support of his fellow-citizens. Stepan Yashchenko, Semen and Grigoryi Telesh, Sergey and Mihail Nagornyi, Lavrentyi Lavtushenko, Stepan Blocski, Gavrila Nagornyi, Maksim Belskyi, Sergey Davidchik, Trophim Novik, Aleksandr Konanchyk, Phalinski(decorated with an Order of Red Flag) joined Nagorny’s detachment.
Brave raids of the detachment on German garrisons spread havoc among the enemy so they could not consolidate their positions in the villages of volost.
In the end of November, 1918 they got wind that Skarapadsky ‘s Ukrainian rebel army had been defeated so Nagorny’s detachment attacked a garrison of the rebels. Partisan P.C.Telesh describes this event: “On the 20th of November, 1918 it was a conference in the garrison and there were about 25 people. We decided to seize an opportunity. We approached the building without being noticed. Some people stayed there but Filip Nagorny, Stepan Yashchanka, Matvei Telesh and I burst into a room shouting “Putt’em up!” They gave up without a blow and were confused. The power in Yuravichi went over to partisans. They posted sentries near the post-office and previously-mentioned building. The next day I went to check up the posts in the morning. Ivan Telesh was standing near the post-office. His relief-guard was late. I let Ivan go and held the post. Mihail Lucskevich came to me, we chattered and then he left. Suddenly I heard gun shots near-by. Lucskevish was running to me getting tangled in his overcoat. I took up a riffle but I didn’t have time to shoot. The Germans packed me. Many excited people went out in the streets. The Germans wanted to shoot me and Lucskevich first but forgot about it hurry. As it transpired later one of the parochial wealth man run to Vadovichi (the Germans based there) to tell that Yuravichi had been seized by partisans. So 75 German soldiers with no less than 2 machine guns burst into the town.
They mounted a guard around us, the other Germans and Ukrainian rebels scattered over the town. They were told that the detachments of Nagorny were gathering near the churchyard. Bereza’s detachment controlled the road to Hoyniki. So they stepped back to Vadovichi. Those were the last days when invaders controlled our lands. Soon they finally left the territory of Belarus”.
The revolutionary committee was established again after the German army had left Kalinkovichi. Its members were Nikita Lapusta, Suhanos, Pavlenko. Turavec was its leader.
The Yuravichi detachment’s partisans joined Bagunski regiment of the 44th division. Nagorny became the commander of company, than the commander of battalion. Finally he became an executive of regiment. The village council with Grigoriy Kovalchuk in the lead started to split landowners’ land.
On the 5th of February Germany and Poland signed an agreement according to which as soon as the German army leaves occupied territories the Polish army takes them.
On March the Polish forces attacked Soviets without trying to negotiate disputable issues. Counter-revolutionaries helped the invaders’ army and the Strekopitovsky mutiny broke out. In the beginning of April there was a danger of Nazis’ assault on Yuravichi lands from Mozyr side. In soviet home front there were cases of damaging roads and crops, firing forests. A horse detachment was organized to resist the sabotage. One of those detachments was located in Vadovichi and guarded crops of the next territories: Yuravicskaya, Avcsukpvskaya, Vasilivecskaya volosts. Some measures were taken to stop speculation. Foodstuffs private trade was prohibited. On March-May, 1919 Yuravichi revolutionary committee dealt with gangsterism, supplied poor families and Red Army soldiers with fuel and foodstuffs, distributed landowners’ lands, expanded its infrastructure and decided the issues of volast’s population.
On March 1919 Filip Nagorny came to Yuravichi. He recruited volunteers to the Red Army because the battlefront needed soldiers. About 40 people agreed to join the army. Filip Mikanorovich himself remembers that period of time:
“On June 1919 Yuravichi’s communist youth group numbered about 30 boys and girls. They gathered at Olga Telesh place. Shura Lygovskaya and Pavel Telesh stood out against the others during arrangements. Soon the Polish army marched into the town. The right wing of the church was remade in kostel(Catholic Church). They began to arrest leaders, rob and violate. Polish was set as a main language and Polish gymnasium that was only attended just by few children had been established.
Poles arrested parochial komsomol members Olga and Efimya Telesh, Aleksandra Lagovskaya and others. They sent them to Mozyr prison. Grigoryi Kovalchuk suffered a lot: he was hanged on a post, threw to a fire and sank into a well. The polish regiment headquarters was deployed in the town. Its commander could set somebody free for a bribe but could just kill it. The Poles were swaggers being absolutely sure that they would be kings there forever. They humbled rich Jews making them give up their gold and used them in carts instead of horses”.
On the 17th of June, 1920 the Red Army made a crushing strike on the Polish army. A member of Yuravichi revolutionary committee Ivan Shimansky describes that event: “The 57th infantry division advanced in Yuravichi direction. Before the attack the division’s parts were located in Knyajci. A chairman of the revolutionary military committee Lev Trocsky delivered a flaming speech. The next night the attack began. The Red soldiers swam across river Vit and attacked the Polish army. The 30th regiment of the invaders’ army could not step back to Kalinkovichi as our regiment had been there. After a short fight they run away to village Grada. The Red Army lost 15 soldiers. Two of them were Chinese volunteers. They were buried in a garden on the mountain. In Grada the Poles were trying to rebuff an approaching Red army. They took positions along the road near the bridge and set out 4 machine-guns. But the Red soldiers hit them unexpectedly have being walked around the positions and broke the guard. The village Grada was the last one that was set free from the invaders on the territory of a present-day Kalinkovichi district. Soviet power established henceforth there.
Along with the emancipators the members of Yuravichi revolutionary committee came back to the town. The committee was headed by Fedor Telejnikov. Yulian Polyak describes the town at that time in the newspaper article “ Mobilized by October” in “Za Kommunizm” newspaper: The town was still on fire. You could see bits of telephone wires hanging in the streets, flipped carriages with robbed stuff of dwellers here and there. Left arms and ammunition – the traces of enemies that left the territory in a hurry. And you have to roll up your sleeves and restore everything that was ruined. The epidemics of typhus, dysentery and scarlet fever didn’t quiet down. And forests had still been burning. The fire cruelly damaged people’s property. It takes a lot of men to struggle against the fires and gangsters”. In one week sharp after the volost had been set free the revolutionary committee convoked a conference which was attended by the delegates of all the villages of volost. The urgent questions of volost’s life were considered there and the resolution to Lenin was approved. The resolution still remains in the government archive. The resolution says: “We are the citizens of Yuravichi volost should respect and support Soviet power because this is the only way to equality, development and peaceful work. Our meeting is the proof of our readiness to support the power as best as we can.
The peasants of Yuravichi volast donated hundreds poods of bread and other provision to the Red Army and proletarians. The authorities of volost helped poor people, widows and families of the Red soldiers in the area. They opened schools and carried out the campaign against illiteracy. In the end of August the gang of ex-landowner Bakunenko was seized and he and his mates were prosecuted. The end was put. After the liquidation of the gang the life in Yuravichi calmed down just for a little while. Once on November, 1920 bulak-balahoycsi(a gang) attacked the town. But the strengths were not equal. The gangsters collared almost all the policemen and the member of revolutionary committee Novik who had a chance to escape. During the fight another member of the committee ex-sailor of Baltic fleet Ivan Sharov died. The gangsters have being raided for 10 days. The representatives of Jewish people tried to stand up for Yulian Popel who had been arrested. They sent the statement to People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs(PCIA). The statements says: “ In the end of summer 1938 Yulian Popel was arrested by agents of PCIA in Yuravichi. We heard that Popel is accused of complicity in the crimes made by Balahovich’s gang. On one winter night in 1920 Yuravichi was attacked by the gang and killed few Jews. We were afraid to start negotiations with them so we asked Popel to help us. He is one of the best friends of us and whom we know since his arrival to Yuravichi in 1916. So we asked him to go to the gangsters to learn how they could pay us the death of our innocent people. Being an honest and kind person Popel could not refuse us and took a risk. Popel’s house was a shelter for Jewish families at that cruel time so many people were spared. That is why the number of victims in Yuravichi was comparatively low. Yuravichi was set free from Balahovich’s gand on the 19th of November. During their stay 8 men were killed and 30 men were injured. Almost everyone was robbed especially Jewish people. On the 20th of November Balahovich’s gang numbering 500 people had a chance to burst through the 51st and 48th divisions of the Red Army. Then they escaped through the woods and mires to Poland. The authorities of Poland finally remembered about the treaty of peace with Soviet Russian and had to disarm the remains of the gang in the area of David-Gorodok. Finally peacetime came to Polessye.
Soon after peace had come Stepan Akulenko was elected as a chairman of Yuravichi volost revolutionary committee. Pavel Melej(father of popular Belarussian writer) was elected as a secretary. Local population main occupation was based on agriculture, handicraft and trade. Some enterprises that used engines for example mills and milk-churns started to be established.
About 5-6 wage-earners worked in craftshops. For example Leiba Ginzburg controlled shoe workshop, Esel Gutman run women tailoring, Leiba Rucaevsky run men tailoring, Zalman Myanevich – a small mineral water production enterprise, Moisey Buhman – a brickyard, Gesya Shlyafer, Leiba Kogan and Moisey Lando bought-up and sold wood. There were many experts such as carpenters, blacksmiths, stove-setters and others. There were many small stores which were run by Jews. In one word living in Yuravichi after the revolution didn’t change much since it had been in 1917. Filip Nagorny describes life in Yuravichi at that time: “ One third of population was Jews, a little fewer of Poles. Others were Belarussians. The major part of Jews was poor and they traded and crafted for their living. Gureviches run a pharmacy and leather workshop. Rudmans did cattle breeding and their employee was Mikanor Nagorny who sometimes transported cattle to Warsaw. Lumberman Lyalchuck accepted Soviet power without cheers”. The volost revolutionary committee that was dealing with many issues concerning restoring the economy continued to deal with the main issue of peasants – the lands. The confiscated lands were shared between grain growers. On March 1921, for luck of peasants, food rationing policy was replaced by natural tax. In addition to it the military communist policy changed to New Economic Policy which sustained agriculture and industry. Local youth played an important role in changing cultural scene of the town and the village. In 1988 in connection with 70th anniversary of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League I had a chance to talk to one of the first Komsomol members Fedor Ptashka. “We spent our youth fighting for the communist ideas. Exactly in 1919 Yuravichi first communist party cell was established. That was cruel but eventful time – the time of Young Communist League establishing, first events of communist volunteer Saturday work, campaigns against illiteracy, establishing of collective farms. In 1922 Balocin , Spavicsky, Suharenko and others were initiators of the local party’s cell rebirth. On April Zahar Ivanchenko who was born in village Shubka was elected as a leader of the cell. In a year the cell’s staff was defined: Ivan Telesh, A.Y. Suharenko-Telesh, Aron Begelman, Leva Gendelman, Boris Gamburg, Kvetni, Kantor, Livshics and others. The leader was Mihail Homyak who later became the secretary of district communist committee”.
The twenties and thirties of the 20th centuries are just the past for modern generation. But we followed Lenin’s instructions: leart communist ideas, struggled against famine and havoc, changed the way of rural life that had been rooted for years, broke habits. The revolution wore a red kerchief, held shovels and manuals. The romance of revolution and the civil war was replaced by the romance of building a new world. In the twenties with the help of members of Komsomol(All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) an orphanage was built. They started to pave the main street with wooden pavements. Gas street lamps were installed.
In 1927 there were 2 Komsomol cells: Kazinovskaya and local one. Eduard Kozlovsky was the secretary of the last one. Kazinovskaya cell united youth doing agricultural labor. The local cell united youth working in industry. The local and Kazinovskaya cells merged in 1929. It was headed by Konstantin Telesh. At the same time when the Communist Party decided to make farms collective Komsomol members were the first people who helped to carry this plan out. In 1929-1930 Udarnik kolkhoz (a collective farm) was established. They were not afraid of kulaks(rich peasants) so they carried out the government plan of rural life reforming.
In the beginning of the thirties socialist emulations started to take place. We, Komsomol members, took an active role there. The committee did as much as they could do to make youth more active: examinations, public work, conferences, call-overs. Stakhanovism assumed wide scope. In 1936 a komsomol member Olga Telesh was given an opportunity to present the local komsomol at the 6th All-Union Leninist Young Communist League congress as she got on with work. Also she helped to build the road from Yuravichi. Members of komsomol spent their leisure time as well as they worked. They were happy and sang songs while working, though it was hard times. B.S. Katsen was headed a singing circle. R.P. Dulup was his accompanist. The repertoire usually included Belarussian folk songs. Young people were so inspired singing there so next year they gave a performance at All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy where they presented folk art of Belarus. 50 Yuravichi dwellers have being rehearsed for 2 months to play in public in Moscow.
Yuravichi volost was a part of Gomel gubernia RSFSR on the 26th of April 1919. On the 3th of March 1924 it was partially given to BSSR and on the 17th of June it ceased to exist. It turned into administrative unit of Mozyr district. On the 8th of December 1926 Uravichi district was established in Mozyr region. It consisted of 23 rural soviets: Aleksitsky, Berezovsky, Boruski, Velikoavcsukovsky, Glinshchansly, Gradsky, Knyajicsky, Kajushkavsky, Krishicsky, Kuhnoshchensky, Lomishsky, Moklishchansky, Mucsijarsky, Ogorodnichesky, Prudkovsky, Slobodsky, Tulgovitsky, Ujinecsky, Hvoinetsky, Hobnensky, Chornovshchnensky, Shareikovsky, Uravicsky. During June 9, 1927 – July 26m 1930 the soviets were the part of Mozyr district. On the 10th of November 1927 the rural soviets were reorganized. Only the local soviet in Yuravichi and 7 rural soviets (Aleketsky, Berezovsky, Velikoavcsukovsky, Kojushkovsky, Krishitsky, Tulgovitsky, Hobnensky) were left out of 23. In 1930 Yuravichi rural soviet was reestablished. July 8, 1931 Yuravichi district was liquidated. Berezovsky, Velikoavcskovsky, Krishitsky, Uravitsky rural soviets began to be the part of Mozyr district, the others – the part of Hoynitsky district. In 1930 Yuravichi-1 and Yuravichi-2 villages numbered 300 homesteads and 1537 people. The town population numbered 463 people and 114 homesteads.
The process of collective farms establishing in Yuravichi district and town as well as in other parts of the country was not as easy as it may seem. On the 15th of December 1929 the land department chief N.Primak noticed 3 periods of collective farms establishing in the report concerning collective farms establishing in Yuravichi district. The first period took place when 2 Jewish kolkhozes “Krasny Pahar” were merged from disbanded state farm and “Zvezda Svobodi” kolkhoz. These enterprises worked till March 1929. Machinery association “Pahar-Belarus” named after Buharin and land-reclamation association were situated near-by.
The second period was the period of carrying out the plans taken at the 15th Russian Communist Party conference. The main idea was a need in agricultural production. So it is clear this plan could only be carried out according to socialistic ideas.
In the spring of 1929 nine peasant families decided to establish “Krasny Flag” kolkhoz. A.Y.Homyak, A.V. Ptashka, G.S. Fridman, F.A. Kasyan, M.N Telesh were the founders. “The organizational meeting was attended by so many people so some of them could not find room in the house”. – remembered V.P. Yashchenko who was a 15-year-old guy when he joined kolkhoz. The process was observed by A.Y.Homyak, I.V.Ptashka, G.S.Fridman. Fridman was elected as a chairman. Ten families more joined the kolkhoz in several months.
The third period of collectivization coincided with the resolutions of CKVKP plenum in 1929 and during the 16th Party conference which took place on April of the 1929. Along with adoption of a five-year plan the plans of agricultural reconstruction were defined.
On the 24th of November, 1929 presidiumof Uravichi district executive committee adopted the resolution of the new kolkhoz establishing in Yuravichi. The kolkhoz numbered 25 families. Its founders were Y.M. Blotski, I.M. Myalanich, M.D. Lutskevich and others. The new farm was called after the name of Derjinsky. In less than a month it was decided to establish “Naer Lebun (New Life)” kolkhoz. Thirty families joined it. All in all there were 3 kolkhozes in Yuravichi. However some people didn’t have a strong desire to life a new collective life. And they had many reasons against. Peasants were forced to join kolkhozes and sometimes got frightened. “You don’t join us – you got punished”. – said the proverb of that “whole-country-collectivization” time. But the main reasons of peasants’ unwillingness were the uncertainty of the new way of farming.
On the 5th of 1930 the resolution on collectivization rates and government relief measures was adopted. According to it government started to finance kolkhozes establishing. Another kolkhoz – “Udarnik” was established in Yuravichi in the beginning of 1930. S.I. Telesh was elected as a chairman. But forcing people to join kolkhozes showed that they were established just on paper. By the spring of 1930 a mass outflow of people took place. Three kolkhozes of four ceased to work. But the ones who were self-and future-confident merged into “Krasny Flag” kolkhoz. By the end of 1930 it united 109 homesteads with 463 farmers. It numbered 210 hectares of lands, 77 horses, 45 cows and agricultural equipment. But the state of business left much to be desired. M.Chernyavsky in the report to Mozyr Kolkhoz Union about the state of business in Yuravichi district from March 26, 1930 till April 26, 1930 noticed that in 20 kolkhozes of Yuravichi district stock-taking was not performed. Spring sowing and arrangement of labor realized at a low level. Labor force was not being trained and nobody cared about the business. Sparseness of lands in “Krasny Flag” kolkhoz didn’t allow people to work efficiently. The major part of people didn’t take part at practical work. The steam powered mill was neglected. Transportation was not developed. There were no cattlemen and stables. All in all that were the factors which hampered the development.
Kolkhozes establishment led to wealthy class liquidation. Their representatives resisted kolkhozes establishment. V.P.Yashchenko remembered them burning down barns of Aleksander Homyakm, a pigsty, cow-house and other stuff. It was obviously them doing everything to hamper kolkhozes establishment. However, despite all obstacles kolkhozes appeared and gained strength. The resolution adopted by the poor of Yuravichi district on the 30th of August, 1930 said:”Despite all obstacles from the wealthy whose hampering our business by committing arsons and terror we made progress in collectivization”. To increase the strength of kolkhoz movement the party sent several thousand of working-class communists here. Dmitry Lukyantsev was elected as the kolkhoz chairman. Team form of labor organization and workdays were introduced and piecework became widespread. To increase the efficiency kolkhoz was equipped with machinery. First two machines appeared in Yuravichi in 1933. F.U.Telesh, S.M.Buldik were among the very first drivers. The first tractor appeared here in 1933. P.P. Telesh was among the very first combiners. Women learnt how to operate machines along with men. A.S. Hadovskaya took the wheel, M.T.Telesh drove combine harvester. The collectivization provided had amount, thought it took a lot of effort and expenses.
In 1989 K.I.Kasyan said that kolkhozes establishment was a right decision to make, though mistakes were made and sometimes irrevocable ones. In 1930 our farm strengthened. Kolkhoz “Lenin” was merged from three collective farms: “Krasny Flag”, “Udarnik”, “imeni Kuibisheva”.
Merging and division took place in future. For example in 1969 there happened the division: a part of “Lenin” kolkhoz’s lands were given to “50 godov BSSR” the central farmstead of which was located in nearby Byarozavtsi.
In 2002 “Lenin” and “Ogorodniki-Agro” were merged by “50 godov BSSR”. Anatoly Gorkusha has been heading this powerful enterprise for 12 years by 2011. He started his career in the eighties as a zoo technician in “Lenin”, Yuravichi. Over the period of farm’s existence many things have changed. For example during 1930-1950 crop capacity was about 9-11 centners (100 killos) out of a hectar. A milk yield rate was 1.5 – 1.8 thousand liters a year. There were 3-5 machines. Owing to tireless job the people of Yuravichi made it became real that crop capacity increased repeatedly. Crop capacity in 2006 was 35.1 centners out of a hectar. It increased up to 54 centners by 2009. A milk yield rate is increasing as well. Here goes the yearly statistics: 3345 tons in 2006, 3610 tons in 2008, 3954 tons in 2009 and 4092 tons in 2010. Meat production increased. 601 tons of meat were produced in 2010 while in 2006 – 280 tons.
Such people as Ivananovna and Csirulik Stepan are at the end of the roads but the younger generation does their job with dignity: combiners - Lucskevich Fedor and his brothers Leonid and Vladimir, a repeat winner among combiners Mihail Zhelud and his son Nikolay, Sergei Krot, Nikolay Teterev, Nikolay Gorchanko, Vladimir Molashchenko; drivers – Valentin Kuprienkom Aleksandr Goncharenko; cattlemen – Evgenia Kasyan, Taisia Molashchenko, Nina Flyagina, Ludmola Hodeeva; builders – Grigory Suhonos and his son Aleksands, Vladimir Sapozhnikov, Aleksandr Matus, agronomist-gardener Gennady Gorchanko. You name it!