Military Review

Slutsk uprising and Poland - is there a connection?

The Slutsk uprising is perhaps the most controversial issue in the formation of the Soviet state. There are diametrically opposed historical assessments of the events of 1920 in the territory of Belarus. In the thirties, now known as the years of repression and reprisals, almost all the participants of the national liberation movement of Belarus were convicted and executed. It remains to judge what happened only by the facts and evidence from the execution of cases that have been preserved in the people's memory. Among the diversity of opinions, there are three main points of view on the Slutsk uprising.

Slutsk uprising and Poland - is there a connection?

The Soviet interpretation of events boils down to the fact that after the Russo-Polish war in the territory of the BSSR, the work of a wide variety of agitators intensified. The purpose of their work was to initiate a rebellion with the help of criminal structures, as well as the use of anti-Soviet sentiments in the interests of the gentry. The speeches were financed by the Polish secret services, also a dependent organization, calling itself the Government of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, located in Warsaw. Today, this statement is questioned, but during the investigation period it was taken almost as an axiom. The Polish side focused on its own non-interference in the development of the uprising, as well as the allegedly voluntary withdrawal of troops from the occupied territories in accordance with the Riga Peace Treaty. However, we are most interested in the version of the Belarusians themselves. It was almost impossible to hear her for a long time, but after the fall of the USSR, the historical truth turned out to be covered by researchers from a completely new side.

October 12 heavy 1920, the two warring parties finally signed a peace treaty in Riga. In accordance with its terms, Belarus was split into two parts. One of them became the BSSR, and the other became part of Poland. Representatives of the two powers did not even think about the freedom and independence of the Belarusians. The behavior of both parties to the treaty is completely understandable, most of Belarus is covered with fertile lands on which hereditary agricultural producers live. In the Soviet period, the BSSR was called the ally of the breadbasket, there is grown a significant part of grain and vegetable crops. Providing independence to the edge meant depriving oneself of the use of resources. In addition, each of the parties understood that if even a small territory was left outside its influence, the other immediately occupied it.

However, the population of the country, tormented by mutual robbery and atrocities of fierce armies, did not have special sympathy for either the Polish interventionists or the Soviet dictatorship. During the war years, the Bolsheviks recruited all males capable of fighting into the Red Army. Representatives of the Soviets were not interested in the arguments of the peasants about the need to work on the land and feed their families. Tired of bloodshed, the peasants did not want to act in the struggle for people's power that was incomprehensible to them, but they also did not want to see Catholics eager for power in their land. To be more precise, the peasants did not want state sovereignty as such, but tranquility and peace, which, as it seemed to them, could only be achieved through the formation of an independent and free Belarus.

The High Contracting Parties in Riga determined that the line dividing Belarus ran in such a way that Slutsk district, which later became the spiritual center of the uprising, was to become part of Soviet Belorussia. Simultaneously with the division in the country, the national movement rose. Rather, the idea of ​​national independence originated during the Polish-Soviet confrontation, but turned into open speeches only after the end of hostilities. Already in the fall, anti-Soviet and anti-Polish “explosions” began in Minsk and Borisov counties. At non-party meetings, decisions were made on the creation of armed detachments, and their liberation goals were proclaimed.

The center of the movement became the city of Slutsk. The instigators of the uprising themselves sought both financial, and political and military support, but the proposal of the representatives of Poland to move under their sovereignty and protection suited not many. It should be recognized that there is still some truth in the accusations of the leaders of the uprising in cooperation with the Poles. The government of the Belarusian People’s Republic skillfully used the rise of the national spirit of the peasants. The rebels were sent assurances of assistance, as well as items of state symbols: a red-white flag and coat of arms. In fact, as such, the republic no longer existed, but the presence of any manifestation of state power was simply necessary for the movement. The presence of the government in Warsaw gave grounds for the Bolsheviks to declare that the uprising was not national, and the decisions taken by the committees could not be considered popular. The Red Army detachments came out against the rebels.

The anti-Soviet sentiments among wealthy peasants and merchants, which were much larger in this region than in the central part of Russia, also contributed to the spread of national sovereignty ideas. The concentration of the kulaks, runaway Red Army men and wealthy citizens, including the owners of manufactories who seriously feared ruin and reprisals after the final approval of the power of the proletariat, created fertile ground for the development of the movement. People remembered the practice of surplus very well and understood that the new visits of the food withdrawal detachments could be resumed.

The leaders of the liberation movement were not united in their views on the future of the country. Some tended to cooperate with Poland and one of the military commanders Bulak-Balakhovich. Others pointed to the expediency of negotiations with the Bolsheviks, and still others held utopian opinions about the possibility of creating an absolutely independent state opposing both Poland and the Soviets. Contradictions manifested themselves during the whole uprising and, as a result, became the main cause of the defeat of the rebels.

Polish agitators were active in Slutsk district, persuading the population to declare their desire to go under the sovereignty of Poland. The most persistent were arrested and betrayed by the Soviet authorities. Despite the displeasure of ordinary Belarusians with the Bolsheviks, they feared the Poles no less; therefore, they perceived various kinds of agitation, as a rule, with hostility.

It should be said about such a leader of the movement as Vladimir Prokulevich, who was most tried to be accused of having links with Poland. By political conviction, this man was a Social Revolutionary, had a higher legal education. Very little is known about the individual, only in 1995, the year Vladimir Mikhnyuk was allowed to study a multivolume criminal case about the Union for the Liberation of Belarus. Documents relating to the accused Prokulevich was not very much. According to the researcher, all documents drawn up in advance and for a specific purpose were signed by the accused. However, we are not interested in a trumped-up accusation, but the few biographical data that were recorded in it.

Born Vladimir Mikhailovich 2 December 1887 year in the Minsk province in the family Zemsky secretary. Until 1910, he adhered to the views of the Mensheviks, and then joined the Socialist Revolutionaries. Before the 1917 revolution, and some time after it, Prokulevich worked as a judge. In accordance with the materials of the case, from 1920 up until 1923, he participated in the counter-revolutionary Slutsk uprising, and then hid from court in exile. After a quick investigation, Prokulevich was sent to Perm for five years, however, in the 1938 year, he was still shot.

Prokulevich was the head of the elected rebels Rada. His responsibilities included making decisions together with another seventeen members in the field of defense and the organization of the regional administration. Parliament immediately after its election in November 1920, announced a general mobilization. Until today it has not been established exactly what was the participation of Poland in the activities of the rebel government. Some argue that all the financing of the uprising was carried out by the Poles, others, including the authoritative research historian Stuzhinskaya, insist that support from Warsaw was more in words. Modern authors consider the main source of funding for the rebels of well-off Belarusians, who have donated almost all of their wealth to the needs of the liberation detachments.

The command of the rebel forces was entrusted to Captain Peter Chaika, who was later arrested by his fellow soldiers on suspicion of treason. The liberation national militia consisted of only two regiments, headed by Gavrilovich and Antsipovich. Despite the support of the population, the troops were weak and disorganized, and the weapons were sorely lacking. Nevertheless, at first luck turned out to be on the side of the rebels. In many ways, their successes were associated with the sympathy of the Red Army soldiers for the rebels, as well as the ill-conceived actions of the Soviet command.

The Bolsheviks soon found a solution and directed against the Belarusians detachments of Chinese and Tatars (international formations) who did not experience fraternal feelings towards the enemy. The forces were unequal, but the main reason for the defeat was the conflicts in the leadership. The fact is that the military command was of the opinion that it was necessary to seek support from Bulak-Balakhovich, while the majority of members of the Elected Rada refused such a decision. Contradictions soon reached their apogee and culminated in a series of arrests and reprisals. And without that little organized units, were deprived of professional leadership, ammunition ended, the first casualties appeared. In addition to all the outbreak of typhus. On December 28, on the Moroch River, the remaining soldiers were declared to cease hostilities and conclude a peace agreement with the Soviets. Some of the rebels continued to fight with the Soviet government under the command of Makhno, the other part returned to their places of origin. Virtually every participant in the uprising, especially the leaders, were tried, and executed at the end of the 30s.

Today, the Slutsk uprising is viewed in Belarus as the first manifestation of the struggle for an independent state. The leaders of the liberation movement and its rank and file participants are considered heroes, and they prefer not to recall the role of Poland in this historic event. In this case, the modern "democrats" are actively using the opportunity to once again stigmatize Soviet power with shame and catch the Bolsheviks in an effort to seize territory by force. However, too much confuses them in their reasoning. The main circumstance remains covered with mystery, namely the role in the uprising of the gentry.


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  1. tronin.maxim
    tronin.maxim April 24 2012 06: 52
    Hmm, the question is complicated. request
    1. Sergh
      Sergh April 24 2012 07: 29
      On Vika, they write:
      The preliminary peace, signed on October 12, 1920 in Riga (later fixed by the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921) between Poland, the RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR, new state borders were established that divided Belarus and Ukraine into two parts. The Belarusian delegation did not participate in these negotiations, since representatives from neither the Byelorussian People’s Republic, which had not existed at that time, nor the Byelorussian SSR created by the Bolsheviks, were invited to them. On the other hand, the RSFSR acted exclusively in the interests of the Bolsheviks. The historian A. Gritskevich points out the fact that the head of the Soviet delegation A. Iofe proposed to cede the entire territory of the BSSR to Poland in exchange for territorial concessions in Ukraine, but the Polish side did not accept this proposal. [5]

      According to the agreement, the Kievichi-Lan line of demarcation took place in such a way that the Slutsk district had to go to the Byelorussian SSR, only some western volosts remained behind Poland.

      Poland's borders following the war
  2. Dust
    Dust April 24 2012 06: 55
    So the author came to the condition, that is, reprints of absolute nonsense!
    This is when Belarus was the breadbasket for the country?
    And I won’t even talk about the anti-Soviet nonsense of the current Belarusian democrats ...
    I believe that the article was a little late and the publications of the early 90s were taken as a basis?
    Let them wipe themselves with their "original view of history" ...
  3. Ascetic
    Ascetic April 24 2012 07: 32
    "Belarus should be a free, independent republic, within its ethnographic borders"

    From the declaration of the county council. Slutsk. November 21, 1920
    "The people, who spontaneously rebelled with arms in their hands for the indivisibility and independence of their Fatherland, wrote on their standard: neither the Polish nobles, nor the Moscow communists. The Belarusian national-political conference states that this uprising was strangled by the superior strength of both sides."

    From the resolution of the First National Political Conference of Belarusian National Organizations. Prague. September 28, 1921

    If we reject the empty concussion with declarations, then in reality the Slutsk armed demonstration was directed exclusively against the expansion of the RSFSR. No action was taken against the Polish side. On the contrary, the organization of authorities and the formation of regiments was carried out in the territory controlled by the Poles with the approval and assistance of the latter (up to the transfer of weapons). And the real task that the Congress of the Slutsk District set itself was to prevent the Red Army from occupying the eastern part of the county. About the liberation of the western part of the county from the Poles, speech never went anywhere. The Poles of the Slutsk Brigade did no harm. The soldiers of the Slutsk brigade who had left for Polish territory were interned, and not captured. And after the liberation they lived freely in Poland.

    To the Poles themselves, Belarusian politicians can present the only claim that having played enough with their independence (or rather, having solved their own task - creating pressure on the Soviet delegation at the talks in Riga), they calmly allowed the Red Army to strangle this independence. So the "superior forces of BOTH sides" is nothing more than an insult to those whom for some reason they considered obliged to themselves.
    The Red Army naturally crushed the Slutsk brigade. Belarusian nationalists simply could not provide the movement with the necessary scope for such ambitious territorial plans. Despite the fact that the Bolsheviks themselves were pushing the peasants into their arms by the surplus appraisal. Moreover, having failed to organize enough mass movement on its own, the BPR leadership did not consider it necessary either to acquire allies, or even simply coordinate their actions with those who could be them. The height of idiocy was the start of hostilities just at the moment when the last potential ally in the theater of operations was already defeated. And neither to assist him, nor to rely on the fact that the Red Army will be busy fighting with a stronger player, was no longer necessary. The main opponent of the Slutsk brigade became 22nd brigade of the 8th SD of the 16th Army, which last month fought with Bulak-Balakhovich... In fact, the Slutsk brigade was framed under these "superior forces." And the military leadership of the brigade, in the end, realized this and expressed their claims to Rada.
    There was no resistance to the occupation of the eastern part of the county by the Red Army (for which, in fact, everything was conceived). Within a month, only a fifteen-kilometer neutral zone was retained, the entry of which the Soviet units required coordination with the Polish side. Semi-partisan actions in the form of harassing raids on patrols were successful, but an attempt to start a real struggle for territory led to a routed rout.

    What makes the event really remarkable is the only case of conducting independent hostilities by the Belarusian regular army.

    Black the lines show the borders of states and Soviet republics, including the Soviet-Polish border established on October 12, 1920 by the armistice agreement.
    Red - the real situation of the Soviet-Polish front at the time of the end of hostilities.
    Green - declared on March 9, 1918 the borders of the Belarusian People’s Republic. And also - the borders of the Slutsk district. Part of its territory, the opposition of the transfer of which the SSRB set the task of the Slutsk armed demonstration, is shaded green. Also in the county, the combat zone is shown in red.
    The green arrows indicate the RNDA Bulak-Balakhovich raid in November 1920.
    Gray the lines indicate the modern border of the Republic of Belarus.
    My webpage
    1. Sirius
      Sirius April 24 2012 18: 03
      Why did the author not provide his article with such a map?
  4. dmb
    dmb April 24 2012 11: 45
    As the character of Jurassic in the film "Love and Doves" rightly used to say: "The Kikimorov don't understand." The article strongly resembles the "masterpiece" of Guskov, which is being discussed today. What Belarusian state at that moment) are we talking about? A bunch of crooks called themselves power with the consent of the German occupiers, and this is considered a state ?. Let me remind you that during the civil war there were ten such "governments" in the provinces. And if it were not for the Bolsheviks, then such a country as Russia (aka the Soviet Union) would not have existed on the map for ninety years. By the way, the former members of the imperial house also recognized this (when they grew wiser). And finally stop in writing nonsense. The Bolsheviks had nothing else to do but to anger the peasants by introducing surplus appropriation. Out of boredom, they did it. Or maybe there were reasons for that? There were, and only the blind cannot see them.
  5. Gamdlislyam
    Gamdlislyam April 24 2012 17: 48
    Madame Elena Gordeeva seems to have read essays from Polish sites, in which a similar interpretation of the history of Belarus is presented.
    In Belarus itself, she apparently has never been. There and now, such nonsense can be read only in the opposition media financed from the same Poland or other democratic powers, which is issued more likely to report to its owners than to the people. Belarusians even disdain to use this waste paper in a toilet.
    The article is a fat minus.
  6. Skorobogatov_P
    Skorobogatov_P 1 May 2012 14: 40
    The article is not just a fat minus - it is our continuing Russian "intellectualism". It is strange - after all, the French remember well the numerous Soltat voices in 1916-1918. but they do not sprinkle ashes on their heads about this, do not stigmatize their homeland. And everything continues with us !!! Hey you, there in the Russian Federation, will you continue to stamp on the grave of your state for a long time? Or did it all start from scratch for you in 1991? Yes, any person who does not even know the history of those ldet, but only more or less closely following the television movements of the golden billion will immediately say - this is Warsaw's business.
  7. Arkadij latyshev
    Arkadij latyshev 16 July 2017 14: 17
    A swan, a crayfish and a pike could never agree.