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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Soviet Vitebsk 1976: 12 postcard images

Published in 1976 this folder of 12 images of Vitebsk in the Byelorussian SSR was aimed at domestic audience and was printed entirely in Russian.

The city had celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1974 and was a thriving administrative, industrial and cultural center with a population of over 280,000.

As was true of so many cities in the western USSR, Vitebsk has been almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War. It was reconstructed and rose from the ashes during the astonishing post-war recovery and rebuilding in the wake of devastation that was one of the most remarkable accomplishments of Soviet socialism.

The images range from streetscapes to monuments to housing projects and represent a nice cross-section. We have translated the folder text from the Russian and included the brief outline of the city's history and contemporary reality that accompanied it.

Folder text:

Vitebsk is one of the most ancient cities, the administrative, industrial and cultural center of the Vitebsk region, located on the picturesque banks of the Western Dvina at the confluence of the rivers Vitba and Luchessa.

The favorable geographical position (the Western Dvina river on the way from the Varangians to the Greeks) determined the political, military and commercial significance of Vitebsk in antiquity. Along the Western Dvina, communication was maintained between the two largest centers of Ancient Rus - Kiev and Novgorod.

The residents of Vitebsk have written many glorious pages in the history of our Motherland. Vitebsk soldiers fought under the banner of Alexander Nevsky, fought against Swedish knights and Polish feudalists, defending the freedom and independence of the Russian land. The invaders mercilessly destroyed and plundered the city, but all of them suffered retribution. No wonder the ancient emblem of the city depicts a horseman with a sword in his hand - "Whoever comes to us with a sword will die by the sword". Each time the courageous city rose from the ashes and ruins to become even stronger and more beautiful.

During the Great Patriotic War, the city -- in which almost the entire population was killed or driven out during the years of the fascist occupation, and residential quarters and industrial enterprises were turned into ruins -- did not surrender and did not kneel before the enemy. Some of the townspeople went to the partisan detachments; underground organizations acted in the city, and these inflicted tangible blows on the enemy.

During the years of the first post-war five-year plan, the industry of Vitebsk was completely restored. Now Vitebsk is one of the largest cities in Belarus with a population exceeding 280,000 people. The products of industrial enterprises of the city are supplied to more than 60 countries around the world.

In 1974 Vitebsk celebrated its 1000th anniversary. For the great successes achieved by the workers in economic and cultural construction, the city was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

Day by day Vitebsk is growing and becoming prettier, a city of glorious revolutionary, military and labor traditions. New residential quarters and microdistricts are being built, industrial enterprises are being built and expanded, new palaces of culture, clubs and cinemas are hospitably opening their doors. There are many architectural monuments in the city. They are organically combined with the modern new buildings, giving the city a unique look.

Monument to Lenin

On Pushkin Street

The building of the Veterinary Institute (an architectural monument of the 18th century)

Yakub Kolas Belarusian State Drama Theater

Kolas ( 1882-1956) was a famed Soviet writer who was named a People's Poet of the Byelorussian SSR and was the winner of two Stalin Prizes.

On Moskovsky Prospekt

Bust of Hero of the Soviet Union M. F. Shmyrev - organizer of the first Belarusian partisan brigade

Administrative building (an architectural monument of the 19th century)

The regional museum of local lore, the former city hall (an architectural monument of the 18th century)

The city lies on the picturesque banks of the Western Dvina

Hotel "Vitebsk"

Train Station

Residential buildings on Victory Square

On Lenin Street (folder cover)

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