How it was done: September 17 unification (photos)

74 years ago West Belarus was merged in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

West Belarus is a name which is often used in Belarusian historiography in reference to the territories in the west of modern Belarus which belonged to the Second Polish Republic between 1919 and 1939.

It is to be recalled that pursuant to the Treaty of Riga signed in March, 1921 between Poland, Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine (thus ending the Polish-Soviet War), the territories of modern Belarus were divided between Poland and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. It is noteworthy that our country was not among the participants: the Russian delegation was acting on its behalf.

After signing the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact the German invasion of Poland was not long in coming: it began on September 1, 1939 while on September 17 the Red Army entered its eastern regions. It is interesting that in addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty mentioned above included a secret protocol that put territories of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence, anticipating potential territorial and political rearrangements of these countries.

The campaign ended on 6 October 1939 with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of the country. The Soviet establishment was sure to be taking the situation as throwing off the yoke of the Polish oppressors and freeing fraternal Belarusian and Ukrainian people.

However, it was the Soviet troops that brought Stalinist purges and Communist propaganda to the west of Belarus at the points of their bayonets . The Belarusians might have united on the very day but the events of September, 17 also marked a watershed in the country’s history making way for terror and tortures.

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