Brest will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Red Army creation on a large scale, but historians are puzzled: what does this country have to do with this date?
The official program of the celebration is for three days. There was an open doors day in military unit 97061 in Brest, and an exhibition dedicated to the centenary of the workers ‘and peasants’ red army opened in the Brest Fortress. Flowers were laid to the eternal fire, and at 21:00 a festive salute will be heard near the fortress. On February 24, there will be military style festivities held at the Ice Palace.
Private companies are not lagging behind either. A Brest strip club has offered a special program dedicated to the February 23 holiday.
Belarusian historians, however, do not understand why Belarusian authorities celebrate this date.
“I understand those who served in the Soviet army. For them, February 23 is a nostalgic holiday, the Day of the Soviet Army. But what connection does this day have with Belarus, especially with the local army?” says Ihar Melnikau, PhD in History.
He presented some historical facts to confirm his view: on February 18, 1918, the Kaiser troops launched an offensive on the Eastern Front. Two days later, the first German units were in the Minsk area, where the Bolsheviks had already been almost completely defeated by the Belcorps of the First All-Belarusian Congress and the First Polish Corps unit. On February 23, 1918, the Kaisers approached Pskov and occupied this city the next day. At that moment, the Germans stopped and put forward their demands for peace, which Lenin and the company immediately accepted. On March 1, 1918, the German troops occupied Kiev. The myth of some kind of heroic confrontation between the “Teutons”, which the Red Guards had under Pskov and Narva, was invented in the 1930s. The Germans did not restrain themselves, they stopped and waited for what Lenin would decide.
“As for Belarus,” Ihar Melnikau continues, “the Bolsheviks simply left our country to the Germans for looting. In Brest, at this time, peace negotiations were held, which the Bolsheviks delayed, but in the end they were forced to agree with the conditions of the Kaisers and to sign the treaty on March 3, 1918. In the city on the Bug, there were the headquarters of the occupational German organ called “Ober-Ost”.
Why do we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian army on the day when Belarus was occupied by the Germans who beat the Red Guard from the Belarusian territory? The real day of the Belarusian military glory is the date of September 8, 1514, the day when the Battle of Vorsha took place, in which the troops of the GDL defended their homeland from the foreign invader.
If we take the twentieth century, then this date may be November 19, 1917, when the Central Belarusian Military Council was established.”
The meaning of this holiday is also not clear for the other Brest historian Ivan Chaychyts. According to him, attempts to substantiate the date of February 23, 1918, for a wide celebration as the date of the founding of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus cause confusion among those who are study military history.
“I want to remind you that at that time, the combined Red Army units and the Red Guard were largely incapacitated, a retreat was on all fronts. I also do not understand, how it all relates to the armed forces of Belarus,” the expert emphasized.