From a pamphlet published by the Soviet Union in 1988. Translated by a Russian Jew who was irate as he read it saying it was full of lies and reminded him of what he had fled from. He noted that no mention was ever made of Bereza being a Jewish town. He also commented that the language used was as if it were being written for a child. He did an oral translation, which was later transcribed. Some of his side remarks during the translation were informative and have been included here within brackets.
Bereza Kartuskaya, first mentioned in 1477 and the second time it was mentioned was in 1563. The ancient name by which this town was known for more than 300 years was Bereza Kartuskaya. Bereza is birch and Kartuskaya is related to the monastery that was built by the order of Catholic Cartusian monks. They started to build this big monastery in 1648 and from that time the town was known as Bereza Kartuskaya. The construction of this monastery was done under the ordership of Italian architectures.
One famous name that is connected to this town is the most famous Russian warlord and chieftain, Alexander Suvorov. He had been there with his troops in 1771.
The Catholic Cartusian monks continued to live here and they actually not only lived in the monastery and not only prayed, they actually started to work the land and they turned from poor monks into rich landowners. But the monastery was the object of aggression a couple of times. The first time was the war between Russia and Poland in 1654 to 1676. After that it was the war between Russia and Sweden in 1656-1658. Another war between Russia and Sweden during the Peter the Great 1700-1721. This was called the Northern War. During the Northern War, the Swedish troops actually took the monastery in 1706 and they took everything they could take. Two years later in 1708 the troops of Karl XII took the monastery (at that time the town and the monastery was the same) but except for the silver that they could find in the monastery they couldn’t find anything else.
The monastery as the architectural monument of the 17th century is not there any more but its ruins are still there.
During the Northern War, the Russian Emperor Peter the Great visited Bereza and in Bereza he met with the Polish King August II and they talked about joint efforts against the Swedish Emperor Karl XII.
In 1812 during the Napoleon War with Russia, the Belorussians with the Russians fought against the French. Each troops took Bereza in 1812 during Napoleon’s march to Moscow.
In 19th century Bereza was changing rapidly. They used to have a lot of fairs there that actually was good for the development of the town. One of the most important events in the 19th century for Bereza was when the highway between Moscow and Brest was built. It was opened in 1842. During the long period, that was the main road between Moscow and Warsaw. Bereza was right on this road. So from 1842 Bereza was somehow connected to the two capitals.
One of the first Russian revolutionaries, who was actually one of the founders of the anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin, lived in Bereza. He participated in the revolution of 1848-1849 in Europe and he was twice sentenced to death by the Czarist government.
Another main even for Bereza was the construction of the railroad in 1871. The railroad was built between Smolensk and Brest and was part of the Moscow Warsaw railroad. The railroad was six kilometers from Bereza. So they built the railroad station six kilometers from the town and they called the railroad station Bereza Kartuska – the old town name. Capitalism was developing rapidly in Russia so a bunch of small factories were opened in Bereza. The proletariat, the working class, which was destined to become the [oh, I can’t translate this stupid thing] destined to become the “capitalism undertaker” was starting to appear here. And the workers started to fight for the better future against capitalism.
On January 29, 1900 Vladimir Ilich Lenin went to his first eliberation. Once he arrived, he started to work on the creation of the revolutionary communist party. They founded the first all-Russian political newspaper – iskra [iskra means spark in Russian and you probably don’t know about that because afterwards it was renamed and became pravda – everything else here couldn’t be furthest from the truth but this name is true].
[After that they are talking the usual stuff about revolutionaries and heroes of revolution and first Russian revolution in 1905 that didn’t succeed] In Kartuz Bereza, where at that time 1905 lived about 6000 people, the first of May 1905 the first strike and manifestation was held here and on July 24th 1905 another strike was held in Kartuz Bereza against the government. Local communist organizations had "military-revolutionary units" [ word by word translation from the communist lingo] that led the people protest demonstrations and strikes. The next year on May 1 1906 another strike and another demonstration were held there.
World War I was real trouble for Kartuz Bereza because they were afraid during summer 1915 when Russia was losing the war and the Germans were coming closer and closer, a lot of people actually were afraid of Germans and they relocated to Russia, to the east. After the great October Socialist Revolution in 1917, soviet came to Belorussia in November of 1917. But Germany occupied the western parts of Belorussia. Only in 1919 the Germans were defeated and they left the western regions of Belorussia. So the red army entered Kartuz Bereza on January 13, 1919. From this point the soviet power was established. But it didn’t last for a long time because the Polish troops that were subsidized by the government of Antanta [Antanta was the organization during the World War I that included France, Great Britain, United States, and former Russia (before the revolution)] entered Bereza February 10th 1919. Red army didn’t want to leave its people under Poland so they fought in 1920 all over the western front. The fights were really tough in Bereza Kartuska but after five days of really tough fights the red army took Bereza Kartuska again. After that the Soviet Union and Poland signed the truce and the treaty and according to this treaty Poland got western Belorussia. This treaty was signed in August 1920.
After 1920, when the eastern part of Belorussia was thriving as part of the Soviet Union, the western part that became a part of Poland was really suffering. There were a couple of small factories in Bereza during this time and the owners of these factories were exploiting the cheap labor of their workers. For example, the workers were working 11, 12 hours a day and women were paid half as much as the men.
Germans bombed Bereza June 22, 1941 at five o’clock in
the morning. The Germans took Bereza the next day. During the
occupation the Germans killed more than 8000 people [Jews of course but
they don’t say that] in Bereza.