Brest (Belarus)

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Brest | Brest
Брэст | Брест
( Belarus. ) | ( Russian )
coat of arms
coat of arms
State : BelarusBelarus Belarus
Woblasz : Flag of Brest Voblast, Belarus.svg Brest
Founded : 1019
Coordinates : 52 ° 5 '  N , 23 ° 42'  E Coordinates: 52 ° 5 '  N , 23 ° 42'  E
Height : 281  m
Area : 72.9  km²
Residents : 350,616 (2018)
Population density : 4,810 inhabitants per km²
Time zone : Moscow time ( UTC + 3 )
Telephone code : (+375) 162
Postal code : BY - 224005
License plate : 1
Mayor : Alexander Rogachuk
Website :
Brest (Belarus)

Brest (formerly also Brest-Litowsk, Lithuanian-Brest; Belarusian Брэст or Берасьце Bjeraszje; Ukrainian Берестя ; Polish Brześć ; Russian Брест ; Lithuanian Brestas , formerly Lietuvos Brasta ) is a Belarusian town with residents of January 1, 7, 2009 in West Bugernia. . It is the regional capital of Breszkaja Woblasz , the administrative center of the Brest Rajon and the most important border crossing of the country with Poland .

In 1918, the city was the place of the treaty and namesake of the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty between the German Empire and Soviet Russia .


Brest has an important transport meaning for Belarus as the “gateway to the west”. The most important rail and road border crossing to Poland is located here - most of the land-based traffic from Western Europe via Germany and Poland to Belarus, Russia and further to Central Asia passes the city.

This is why you can find the train station in Brest Zentralny , which has free transfers once a week from Paris (via Karlsruhe , Frankfurt am Main , Erfurt and Berlin ), twice a week from Berlin, three times a week from Warsaw and once a week from Nice (via Innsbruck , Vienna and Warsaw) can be reached, extensive track systems in both the Central European standard gauge west of the border (1435 mm) and in the Russian broad gauge east of the Bug (1520 mm). All through trains must therefore undergo a gauge change procedure before they leave the city again, which usually entails a stay of several hours. Only the Talgo train, the Swift Swift (Strizh) of the RZD, which runs twice a week (the direct train from Berlin Ostbahnhof) that runs twice a week, does the gauge change take place automatically, as the Spanish Talgo technology allows lanes to be changed while driving. If the couplings also have to be adapted to the Russian train system, this usually results in a stay in Brest of around an hour, which, unlike in the past, can be spent on the train. If the couplings do not need to be replaced, you can continue your journey without stopping.

There is an airport near Brest .

coat of arms

Description: In blue, a silver bow with an arrow of the same color aimed at the head of the shield .


Brest was first mentioned in 1019 as a city of the Kievan Rus . Excavations brought to light an extensive settlement with wooden buildings, some of which can be visited as museums (see below). From 1349 to 1795 the city belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Brest-Litovsk) and was later the capital of the voivodeship of the same name . In 1596 the church union between Catholics and Orthodox was signed here. In connection with a Polish uprising in 1794, the Battle of Terespol took place near Brest . After the third partition of Poland , Brest came under the rule of the Russian Empire in 1795 . In the years 1836–1842, the Brest fortress was built to secure its western border at the confluence of the Mukhavets and Bug rivers . The facility, which was later modernized and expanded, was intended to block attackers from entering the interior. It is considered the largest fortress of the 19th century in the Russian Empire. For the construction of the fortress, Brest was "moved" about two kilometers to the east. In practice, this meant the almost complete destruction of the city in favor of military interests. Among the demolished buildings was the Old Great Synagogue from 1568.

In 1869 the Brest – Warsaw railway was put into operation, and in 1871 it was extended eastwards to Moscow. In 1873 a line was finally completed leading from Kowel via Brest to Grajewo in East Prussia

In 1900, 65% of the population in Brest were Jews, making the city one of the largest cultural centers of Judaism.

Population development

The construction of the railroad made Brest an important transport hub, which resulted in rapid population growth. Wars, deportations , genocide and multiple changes of state affiliation led to major changes in the number and composition of the Brest population in the first half of the 20th century.

date Residents Remarks
1889 41,615
1887 46,568
1899 48,732 thereof 30,260 Jews, 12,141 Orthodox, 3,494 Catholics, 273 Protestants, 340 Muslims
1907 46.181
1912 57,068 39,152 of them Jews, 10,042 Orthodox, 7,536 Catholics
1914 approx. 70,000
1919 approx. 7,000 according to other information about 18,000
1920 26,430 including 18,171 Jews
1925 approx. 36,000
1931 48,385 thereof 21,315 Jews, 20,595 Poles, 1,327 Belarusians
1938 57,749 thereof 21,401 Jews, 4,405 "temporary" residents (presumably members of the military)
August 1939 approx. 55,000
1940 approx. 80,000 including approx. 12,000 railway workers; Refugees are not included
July 20, 1941 50.154 8,973 of them arrived during the Soviet occupation
September 9, 1941 approx. 51,000
July 1, 1942 45,752 17,724 of them Jews
10/15/1942 51.030 thereof 15,934 Jews, 15,839 Poles, 4,709 Belarusians
10/17/1942 33.163 thereof 15,836 Poles, 4,710 Belarusians
September 1943 33,834 of which 16,800 Poles, 5,400 Belarusians
1945 22,900
1950 51,200
1955 63,500
1960 75,900
1965 90,200
1970 121,500
1975 154,700
1980 185,800
1985 221,700
1990 268,800
1995 294,300
1999 286,400

First World War

When the German troops went on the offensive on the Eastern Front from the spring of 1915 in World War I , the Russian army withdrew . Large sections of the population joined them - often involuntarily. This is also the case in Brest. On orders from the military, tens of thousands of residents left the city in early August 1915. The fortress and town were burned down by the withdrawing troops, parts of the fortress were blown up. For the second time in less than 100 years, Brest was severely destroyed. Of the 3670 buildings the city had before the war, around 2500 (around 68%) were destroyed.

Interwar period

Leon Trotsky with German officers in Brest
The signing of the ceasefire agreement

On February 9, 1918, the " Bread Peace " between the German Reich and the Ukraine was signed in Brest . A few weeks later, on March 3, 1918, the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty between the German Empire and Soviet Russia was signed in the White Palace in the Brest Fortress . After the Polish-Soviet War and the Peace of Riga in March 1921, the city again belonged to the newly founded Poland and in March 1923 became the seat of the Polesian Voivodeship .

The dock during the “Brest Trial” in January 1931 in Warsaw

Reconstruction after the war was initially slow, with around 540 buildings erected by 1925 and around 730 by 1927.

After the Polish socialists announced in 1930 that they wanted to eliminate Józef Piłsudski's authoritarian regime in favor of a democratic system, the latter resorted to the means of open dictatorship. Around 70 opposition politicians were arrested, including former Polish Prime Ministers Wincenty Witos and Wojciech Korfanty , who were imprisoned in the Brest fortress. The trial, which took place in Warsaw from October 1931 to January 1932, was terminated because it a. directed against the members of the opposition in Brest, called the " Brest Trial ". Eleven politicians from the PPS, the rural Ruch Ludowy and the Christian Democrats were sentenced to prison terms of between one and a half and three years for allegedly preparations for a coup.

In anti-Jewish riots on May 13, 1937, Polish Brestians injured 50 of their Jewish compatriots and demolished or looted hundreds of Jewish shops (see main article Pogrom von Brest (1937) ).

Second World War

Soviet and German soldiers in 1939 on the occasion of the joint parade after the victory over Poland

During the German invasion of Poland , Brest was also captured by German troops . In accordance with the Secret Additional Protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement , the city was handed over to the Red Army on September 22, 1939, before a joint German-Soviet military parade, which had begun to occupy eastern Poland on September 17, 1939 . This process is celebrated in Belarus to this day as the "reunification of western Belarus with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic", the invasion of Soviet troops is called in the official parlance "liberation campaign of the Red Army".

When the German Reich attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 , the Brest fortress, located directly on the border river Bug, was hotly contested. For three days heavy fighting raged across the entire territory of the fortress, for a further two days there was fighting over individual sources of resistance, after which only the eastern fort on the north island of the fortress, whose crew (around 380 men) resigned on June 29th, the eighth Day of the war, revealed after two air raids. At the start of the attack, more than 9,000 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army were in the fortress. More than 2,000 of them were killed in the fighting and around 6,800 were captured. The losses of the Wehrmacht were significantly lower, they amounted to around 428 dead and around 700 wounded. After the war, the myth was developed in the Soviet Union that the Brest fortress had resisted for more than a month, with the defenders fighting to the last cartridge and categorically refusing to be taken prisoner. In 1965, the fortress was given the honorary title of Heroes ' Fortress . Today a monumental memorial and museum commemorate the events of 1941.

During the first days and weeks of the German occupation, German police officers from Police Battalion 307 under the orders of Major Theodor Stahr murdered around 4,400 people in Brest, including around 4,000 Jews . After the police battalion had withdrawn, a security police unit led by SS-Untersturmführer Schmidt came to Brest. In the incident reports of the Einsatzgruppen , their murders are broken down: These police officers killed 1,280 people by August 5, 1941 (EM 43), another 510 by August 9, 1941 (EM 47), and 1,296 by August 18, 1941 (EM 56 ), 769 by August 28, 1941 (EM 66) and another 548 people by September 9, 1941 (EM 78). In total, almost 9,000 civilians in Brest fell victim to the terror of the German police in the months of July to September 1941.

In December 1941, the German rulers set up a ghetto for the Jewish population in Brest . Its residents had to register, which is why the archives of the Brest Oblast have a unique corpus of sources: More than 12,000 logs on the issue of identity cards to ghetto residents have been preserved. In addition to personal data, they also contain a fingerprint and a photograph. This was often the first and last recording in the life of a Jewish resident of Brest. From October 15 to 18, 1942, the ghetto was "dissolved"; H. murdered his population. The Police Company Nuremberg , SD , Polish protection teams and the Police Battalion 310 cordoned off the ghetto on October 15 for this purpose and rounded up its residents. Many people were murdered on the spot. The survivors were taken by train to the shooting site at Bronnaya Gora , about 110 km east of Brest, where they were shot over the course of the following days. The exact number of those murdered these days is not known, but according to various sources it is given as around 15,000 to 20,000. Due to a lack of sources and the silence of the perpetrators, it has not yet been possible to clarify which units the firing squads in Bronnaya Gora were made up of.

At the end of February 2019, it became known that a mass grave from the Second World War with hundreds of dead was found on the site of the former Jewish ghetto in Brest during construction work for a planned apartment block . Since the find in the month before, the remains of 790 people have been recovered, as the head of the exhumations of the AFP news agency announced on February 26, 2019. The remains would be handed over to the authorities for burial. Resistance to the construction work is growing, and a petition against the construction has been launched. Instead, the opponents want a memorial for the dead on the spot.

On July 28, 1944, Soviet troops liberated the city. Thereafter, the prisoner-of-war camp 284 for German prisoners of war of the Second World War existed in Brest until its dissolution in 1953 . Seriously ill people were cared for in the POW Hospital 5849 .

post war period

After the Second World War, Brest came to the USSR. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Polish population was expelled as part of mutual so-called repatriations. In several campaigns, 70% of the long-established residents of Brest left their city for western Poland. Thousands of people from all over the Soviet Union took their place. During this time Brest developed into one of the largest industrial centers of the Belarusian SSR. Since 1991 Brest has belonged to the independent Belarus.


Probably the most famous sight of the city is the monumental memorial, which commemorates the defense of the Brest Fortress at the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union in June 1941. To the north of Brest is the Belaveschskaya Pushcha , a national park that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List . Here it was decided to dissolve the Soviet Union .

Sacred buildings

There are a number of Orthodox churches and one Catholic church in Brest . Before the Shoah , Jews made up almost half of the city's population. They had synagogues and prayer rooms that no longer exist today.


The Orthodox Brotherhood of St. Nicholas erected the first wooden building of the Church of St. Nicholas in today's Sovetskaya ulitsa (house number 10) in the first half of the 19th century. After a fire destroyed it on May 4, 1895, a new building was planned. a. was made possible by donations from marines of the Russian Pacific Fleet and funds from Tsar Nicholas II . The architecture of the church, consecrated in 1906, is therefore modeled on a ship. There are memorial plaques on the church building for the Russian participants in the Russo-Japanese War . In Soviet times, the Brest Oblast Archives were located here. An octagonal bell tower rises above the main entrance to the church. The rear part is dominated by a tower with five onion-shaped domes.

Another church of St. Nikolaj is located on the territory of the Brest Fortress . The building has an eventful history: built in the mid-19th century as an Orthodox garrison church, it was converted into a Catholic church after western Belarus was annexed to Poland. When Brest became Soviet in 1939, the Red Army established the club of the 84th Rifle Regiment in the building. The artillery bombardment by the German Wehrmacht on June 22, 1941 partially destroyed the building, but also made the Orthodox architecture, which had been hidden by the Polish renovations, visible again. After the war, the building was largely in ruins. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that the Orthodox Church repossessed it and reconstruction began. At the moment (summer 2007) the exterior is finished, but the interior of the church has not yet been fully restored. Services are already taking place here again.

The Orthodox Cathedral of St. Simeon is located at the intersection of Mascherow-Prospect and Karl-Marx-Straße . The brick building was erected in 1865 and restored in 1988. The church has a square floor plan with a semicircular extension on the east side. An octagonal tower over the center and four smaller towers tower over the building. In June 1941, mostly Austrian members of the 45th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht, who had died in the fighting over the Brest fortress, were buried around the church . After the war, the graves were leveled, nothing of them today bears witness. The memorial plaque for the fallen, which was considered at the beginning of the 1990s, was not realized due to the social climate.

On the arterial road to the east, the Moscow Chaussee, the Holy Resurrection Church was built in 1995 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Union in World War II .

The current Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, built as a cathedral in 1858, is located near Leninplatz at Leninstrasse 34. From 1950 to 1957, the brick building was rebuilt as the Brest Oblast Museum of Local History was to be set up here. Among other things, the two towers at the front of the building were removed. The museum was opened on June 22, 1957 in the former church and stayed in these rooms until the move to another building on Karl-Marx-Straße in 1995. After the building was returned to the Catholic Church and the two towers were rebuilt, it now serves as a church again.

The building at Karl-Marx-Strasse 37, which today houses workshops, was built at the beginning of the 20th century as a Protestant church . Since 1946 it has housed the Smena children's cinema , the colorful interior decoration of which has been preserved to this day. The cinema was closed in the 1990s and the building owned by Gorispolkom was rented out for commercial purposes.


The former synagogue, built in the 19th century, with an octagonal floor plan, around which a new concrete and glass cladding was built around 1976 , is located on the city's promenade, the Sovetskaya ulitsa. The Belarus cinema has been located here since 1977 with three halls and other commercial offers (slot machines, cafes, bowling alley within the Matrix disco).




In addition to the state theaters, the small independent theater "Krylja Cholopa" (Крыля Холопа, КХ) is located in Brest (ul. Chalturina 2/1, basement entrance). The premises are also used for other events such as theater workshops, lectures, seminars, yoga and language courses.


Coat of arms in the stone; in the background the "Museum of Rescued Art Treasures"
View of the sixth hall of the Defense Museum of the Brest Fortress

The Museum of Defense of the Brest Fortress on the western outskirts is one of the most popular museums in the country . It represents the center of the Brest Heroes Fortress Memorial. The history of the fortress from its construction in the 19th century to the establishment of the memorial and the museum is presented in ten halls . The focus is on the battles at the beginning of the German-Soviet War in 1941, to which four halls are dedicated. The corridors on the ground floor are used for special exhibitions; A weapons exhibition is located in a room on the ground floor. The Brest Fortress Defense Museum is open every day.

The Brest Oblast Museum of Local History in ul.Karla Marksa (Karl-Marx-Straße) has had a modern permanent exhibition since 2012, which shows the history of the city and its surroundings. The local history museum is subordinate to the oblast administration. Two outposts belong to it, both of which are located on the extensive grounds of the Brest Fortress: the archaeological museum "Bjaresze" ( Belarusian Бярэсце ) and the art museum.

The beginnings of the city of Brest in the archaeological museum "Bjaresze"

The Archaeological Museum , opened in 1982, offers insights into the beginnings of the city. The museum building was erected over an excavation site measuring more than 100 m² and thus houses the exposed wooden foundations of around 30 buildings from the 13th century in its center. The permanent exhibition is housed in the galleries around the center of the museum and contains other excavation finds, explanatory diagrams and the like.

The art museum is the youngest museum in town. It opened on May 17, 2002. Its permanent exhibition shows art objects by professional and non-professional artists from the region in 17 halls. These include paintings of all kinds, sculptures, batik work, but also products from weaving and craftsmanship. Of particular interest to visitors from within and outside the city is a large model of the city of Brest as it might have looked in the 17th to 19th centuries. The artist Anastasija Fetisowa and the students of the Polytechnic College who were involved in the creation of the model have based their work on historical models, which are, however, sparse, which is why imagination was added. Two other halls are available for special exhibitions, which, according to information from the museum, change about every one to two months.

The permanent exhibition of the small museum of the history of the city of Brest , which is subordinate to the city administration, shows the fortunes of the city from the earliest times up to the end of the First World War on almost 200 m² of exhibition space . It was opened in 1998 and is located at 3 Levanevskogo Street. It is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Mondays and Tuesdays.

The exhibits in the Museum of Rescued Art Treasures ( Belarusian Музей, "Выратаваныя мастацкія каштоўнасці" ) on the corner of Masherov Prospect and Lenin Street have only one thing in common: they are works of art that the Belarusian customs authorities tried to confiscate them when they were confiscated by the State. That is why there is a colorful mix of different objects - icons from the 16th century, furniture from the 19th century, paintings by Russian and Western European artists, silversmiths ...

Naturally, the Museum of Railway Technology, which opened on May 5, 2002, at the western end of the Mascherow Prospect has particularly large exhibits . Locomotives and wagons from different epochs of railway history are exhibited here in the open air . The museum is open every day except Mondays.


The football club FK Dinamo Brest plays in the Wyschejschaja Liha , the top division of Belarus. The city is also home to the HK Brest ice hockey club. The city ​​is represented in hockey by SC Stroitel Brest and in handball by Brest GK Meschkow .


sons and daughters of the town

Town twinning

A joint partnership between Ravensburg , Weingarten , Baienfurt , Baindt and Berg ( Germany ) and Brest has existed since 1989 .

Brest itself lists a total of 33 twin cities :

city country since
Ashdod IsraelIsrael Israel 2012
Astrakhan RussiaRussia Russia 1999
Baienfurt GermanyGermany Germany 1989
Baindt GermanyGermany Germany 1989
Baiyin China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China Gansu, People's Republic of China 2018
Batumi Batumi COA.JPG GeorgiaGeorgia Adjara, Georgia 2015
mountain GermanyGermany Germany 1989
Biała Podlaska PolandPoland Poland 1991
Botoșani RomaniaRomania Romania 2002
Brest FranceFrance France 2012
Coevorden NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 2000
Dorogomilowo, district of Moscow RussiaRussia Russia 2007
Ivano-Frankivsk UkraineUkraine Ukraine 2004
Izhevsk Coat of Arms of Izhevsk (Udmurtia) .png RussiaRussia Volga, Russia 2016
Kaliningrad RussiaRussia Russia 2009
Kovrov RussiaRussia Russia 2006
Lublin PolandPoland Poland 2002
Ludza LatviaLatvia Latvia 2007
Lutsk UkraineUkraine Ukraine 2003
Maldon United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 2012
Malgobek Coat of Arms of Malgobek.png RussiaRussia North Caucasus, Russia 2015
Naxçıvan AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Azerbaijan 2012
Nevsky, district in Saint Petersburg RussiaRussia Russia 2002
Nizhny Tagil RussiaRussia Russia 1998
Novorossiysk RussiaRussia Russia 2014
Odessa UkraineUkraine Ukraine 2004
Oryol RussiaRussia Russia 1997
Petrozavodsk RussiaRussia Russia 2002
Pleven BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria 1997
Port-sur-Saône FranceFrance France 2004
Siedlce PolandPoland Poland 2006
Ravensburg GermanyGermany Germany 1989
Ryazan RussiaRussia Russia 2014
Subotica Grb subotice.jpg SerbiaSerbia Vojvodina, Serbia 2015
Terespol PolandPoland Poland 2002
Tyumen RussiaRussia Russia 1999
Vineyard GermanyGermany Germany 1989
Xiaogan China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 1993


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  • Christopher Browning: murder of Jews. Nazi politics, forced labor and the behavior of the perpetrators. Frankfurt 2001 (chapter on Brest, pp. 179-217).
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  • Christian Ganzer: “Revolution” in the Brest local history museum. In: Olga Kurilo (ed.): The Second World War in the museum. Continuity and change. Avinus, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-930064-82-3 , pp. 149-157 ( ).
  • Christian Ganzer, Alena Paškovič: “Heroism, tragedy, daring.” The Brest Fortress Defense Museum. In: Eastern Europe. 12/2010, pp. 81-96 ( ).
  • Christian Gerlach: Calculated murders. The German economic and extermination policy in Belarus 1941 to 1944. Hamburger Edition , Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-930908-54-9 .
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  • Wojciech Śleszyński: Zajścia antyżydowskie w Brześciu nad Bugiem 13 V 1937 r (= Dokumenty do dziejów kresów północno – wschodnich II Rzeczypospolitej ). Białystok 2004, ISBN 83-88097-56-3 .
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  • Diana Siebert: Techniques of rule in the swamp and their ranges. Landscape interventions and social engineering in Polesia from 1914 to 1941 . Wiesbaden 2019. ISBN 978-3-447-11229-1 .

Web links

Commons : Brest (Belarus)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Sources and Notes

  1. Population as of January 1, 2018
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  3. a b DB Bahn - travel information on EN 441. In: Retrieved October 5, 2017 .
  4. ^ DB Bahn - travel information on EN 19. In: Retrieved October 5, 2017 .
  5. ^ With the night train from Berlin to Moscow. In: Retrieved October 5, 2017 .
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  7. ^ PR Magocsi: Historical Atlas of Central Europe. University of Washington Press, Seattle 2002, p. 109.
  8. Bysjuk, RR (ed.): Pamjac '. Brėst. U 2 knihach. Kniha 2-yes [remember. Brest. In two books. Book 2], Minsk 2001 (Historyka-dakumental'nyja chroniki haradoŭ i raënaŭ Belarusi [Historical-documentary chronicles of cities and regions of Belarus']).
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  13. ^ Christian Ganzer: German and Soviet Losses as an Indicator of the Length and Intensity of the Battle for the Brest Fortress (1941). In: The Journal of Slavic Military Studies. Volume 27, Issue 3, pp. 449-466 ( ).
  14. Christian Ganzer, Alena Paškovič: "heroism, tragedy, courage." The Museum of the Defense of Brest Fortress. In: Eastern Europe . 12/2010, pp. 81-96.
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