Lubotsky Family Origins - Babruysk, Belarus

The Lubotsky family originated from Babruysk which is one of the oldest cities in Belarus. The name Babruysk (as well as that of the Babruyka River) probably originates from the Belarusian word babyor (beaver), many of which used to inhabit the Berezina. For many centuries Babruysk was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was an important militarily fortified border post. In the 14th century a castle was built on one of the hills near the Biarezina River.

 

The town was surrounded by fortifications made from wood and earth, whose length stretched for over 3 kilometers. These included a protective earth barrier, wooden walls, and almost a dozen two-story watchtowers. In the walls there were openings designed for the placement of firearms. In 1810, the construction of a fortress began to mark the border between Russia, Austria and Prussia. In 1812 the fortress was almost completed and was successful in repelling Napoleon’s attack for four months. After the war, the building was renewed on a large scale, and it was completed in 1820. The Babruysk fortress has served its purpose for many decades and today is a major tourist attraction.

The 1861 census showed a population of 15,766. There were many ethnicities represented, including Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Most of the buildings were constructed from wood, just as in other Belarusian cities. In 1866 there were 1498 houses, only 29 of which were made from brick.

 

There has been a steady increase in the Jewish population of Babruysk following the Napoleonic wars. By 1897, in the total population of 34,336 citizens, 60% were Jews. Most of them were employed in crafts, industry and trade.

The last decade of the 19th century in Babruysk witnessed pogroms as a result of the assassination of the Russian emperor Alexander II. However, most of the attacks were repelled by armed Jewish self-defense.

In 1902, the Great Fire of Babruysk left 2,500 families homeless. The fire also destroyed over 250 business, 15 schools and the central market. There was over 7 million rubles in property damage, however the city was quickly rebuilt, this time with brick and stone.

In 1941, Hitler's forces invaded Babruysk. Believing that German troops would not target civilians, many Jews stayed behind. Consequently, 20,000 Babruysk Jews were shot and buried in mass graves. Ghetto and labor camps were established in the southwest part of town. Soon the Nazis began executing the Jews in the ghetto in groups of about 30. By 1943 all labor camps have been liquidated and the remaining Jews killed. The few Jews who escaped joined partisan forces in the surrounding forest and went about attacking enemy railroad lines. There is a small memorial dedicated to the memory of Babruysk Jews killed in the Holocaust. This memorial is located in the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery in Giv'atayim, Israel, and is part of the Babi Yar memorial.

On June 29, 1944, the Red Army liberated Babruysk and the city lay in ruins. Although the population had been 84,107 in 1939, it was down to 28,352 following the war. The difficult process of rebuilding was conducted by thousands of workers and war prisoners. These citizens labored to clear factories and streets of rubble and filled in craters made by the bombardment. The population of the city recovered quickly, growing from 96,000 residents in 1959 to 227,000 residents in 2000. This was mostly due to urbanization, where people moved into the city from the surrounding rural areas.

* Images from Babruysk article on Wikipedia.