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Grodno history to WWI  Tikva Fatal-Kna'ani

Grodno history to WWI  Tikva Fatal-Kna'ani
The Grodno district is located in northwest Byelorussia, bordering on the north with Lithuania and on the west with Poland. The population was largely Byelorussian, Lithuanian, and Polish. Four rivers – the Bug, Narew, Nieman, and Bover – run through the district; there are a number of lakes in the north and east. The agricultural produce of the area consisted of rye, wheat, linen, tobacco, fruits and vegetables. Industrial products have been diverse, including textiles, pelts, wool, bricks, and alcoholic spirits.

       Between the two world wars Grodno served as the county seat in the district of Bialystok. It is located on the high right bank of the Nieman River, near the Polish border, and is situated at an important railroad junction on the main road from Warsaw to St. Petersburg. It was a commercial center for grains and the site of a variety of industries: large spinning mills, tanneries, and factories producing tobacco and cigarettes, shoes, glass, paper, soap, and agricultural machinery.

        Although Grodno was already inhabited during the first millennium C.E., it is not mentioned in historical documents until the year 1128, when it appears as the seat of its first prince, Vsevolod Davidovich. In 1224, it was destroyed by German knights, and in 1241, during the reign of its fifth and last prince, Yuri Glebovich, by the Tatars. Immediately afterward it was captured by the Lithuanians. In the early fourteenth century Grodno was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1444 it was granted city status (Magdeburg city rights).

        Grodno was devastated in 1284, and again in 1391, in the wars between Lithuania and the Teutonic Order (from eastern Prussia). In 1398, Prince Vitold of Lithuania made Grodno his second capital, after Vilna. The king and his entourage occasionally stayed in Grodno, and after the union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the "Union of Lublin," 1569) the Polish Sejm (national assembly) met there. King Stefan Batory of Poland resided in Grodno, where he died in 1586.

        During the period of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, Grodno was an important Catholic center, and impressive church edifices from that period still exist there. From 1655 to 1657 the Russians, who were at war with Poland, occupied Grodno; they were followed by the Swedes. Charles XII encamped there from 1705 to 1708, on the eve of his invasion of Russia. Important sessions of the Polish Sejm were held in Grodno: the "Silent Sejm" (1793), which was forced to approve the second partition of the country; and the Sejm of 1795, prior to the third partition, after which Grodno was annexed to the Russian Empire. In 1801, Grodno became the main city of a Russian province.

        On the eve of World War I, Grodno's defenses were reinforced, and it was incorporated into the second line of fortifications in western Russia, but in September 1915 it fell to the Germans without resistance. In 1918, Grodno was returned to Poland and included in the Bialystok district. With the partition of Poland between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in September 1939, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Grodno was annexed to the Byelorussian Soviet Republic. Grodno was one of the first Soviet cities captured by the Germans in 1941. In June 1944, it was retaken by the Red Army. Today, as the twentieth century draws to a close, Grodno is a city in the state of Byelarus.
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