Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine


Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine


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Mir - Cultural Heritage Card

Mir is an urban-type settlement in Korelich district, Grodno region of Belarus.

Mir became world-wide famous thanks to its Gothic-renaissance castle which was included to the list of UNESCO world heritage, as well as thanks to the well-known Yeshiva being the center of learning of the eastern-European Jewry.

Jewish houses at the 17th September Square in Mir (the market square)
Jewish houses at the 17th September Square in Mir (the market square) (Author: Sanko, Pavel)


Мір [j.bialoruski], Mir [j.polski], מיר  [j.idysz, jiwrit], Myrius (Myras) [j.litewski], Мир [j.rosyjski].

HISTORICAL AND NATURAL LANDSCAPEDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Mir is an urban-type settlement in Korelich district, Grodno region.

Mir is situated on Miranka River. On the territory of Mir forestry a republican hydrological reserve "Miranka" was created in 1996 (for the purpose of stabilizing the hydrological regime of rivers Neman and Usha). The area of the reserve is 3,107 hectares. The main natural object situated on the territory of Miranka reserve is a peat bog named Wolf bog ( 5 km from the urban-type settlement Mir). On the territory of this reserve there are spruce forests and pine forests; in some places there are such forest complexes as sticky alder forests, oak forests and maple forests. A significant area is planted with various grassland vegetation. Flora of Miranka reserve is famous for its dioecious goat's beard, meadow sage, northern twinflower, mountain swimsuit, meadow pasqueflower etc. Fauna representatives living in this area include badger. Many interesting birds live in Miranka reserve. The most significant bird species include: little gull, common kestrel, black stork and barn owl. The last one has got an incredible appearance: it is white owl with goldish and silver plated bordering on wings. It is an unforgettable spectacle especially if you are lucky to see a barn owl on the flight. Barn owl is included to the Red Book of Belarus, as well as of Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania.


The first mention about Mir in written sources belongs to 1396. After changing several owners Mir was obtained by Ilyinich family in 1486. The castle was built in the first half of the 16th century during Yuriy Ilyinich's rule. In the middle of the 16th century Mir became the center of the homonymous county. In 1569 Mir was obtained by Radzivill family. In 1579 Nickolay Kshystov Radzivill "Sirotka" presented Mir with a privilege of right for free production and sale of honey, bier, vodka; right of citizens' free selling their lands and houses with confirmation of town duties.

In the 17th century Jews settled in Mir. Since that period history of Mir "shtetl" has started which made the settlement worldwide known. This shtetl gave life to many famous personalities.

In the second half of the 18th century Mir was famous as a "Gypsy capital". The Gypsy king of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania lived there. In 1787 K.Radzivill ("Pane Kakhanku") presented this king with a privilege to carry out court proceedings over Gypsy people.

In 1795 Mir was included to the Russian Empire. It became a volost center of Novogrudy district. In the beginning of the war 1812 a battle between the Russian Cossacks corps headed by general Platov and the Polish Uhlan division headed by general Razhetskiy (representatives of Napoleon troops) took place in this area.

In 1828 Mir came into possession of Prince Lev Wittgenstein Starting from the second half of the 19th century the settlement was in possession of princes Sviatopolk-Mirskiys.

During 1921 – 1939 Mir was a part of Poland, a gmina center of Stolbtsovo povet (district), Novogrudy voivodeship.

After the Red Army entered the Western Belarus on the 17th of September 1939 Mir was included to the Belarus SSR; on the 15th of January 1940 it became an urban-type settlement of Mir district, Baranovichi region.

From the 26th of June 1941 and up to the 7th of July 1944 Mir was occupied by German fascist troops. More than 2,560 civilians were killed in Mir district during this period. Mir Komsomol underground was actively working.

During 1944 – 1956 Mir was the center of this district.

Since the 17th of December 1956 it belongs to Korelichi district.

Up to date population of Mir is 2.3 thousand people.

HISTORYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

There are several versions of the name origin of the up-to-date urban-type settlement Mir. According to one version its name originates from the social meaning of word "Mir" as a group of community members. According to another version the name is based on the direct meaning of word "Mir" (translated as Peace): a peaceful treaty was signed there after one of battles (Vladislav Syrokomly's version). The third version is that the name originates from Tatar word "Emir" according to the rank of the head of the Tatar troops staying in this area (Valentin Kalenin's version).

The first mention about Mir in written sources is related with tragic events: in 1396 crusaders passing through Lida and Novogrudok burnt Mir. After crusaders' attack the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas gave the yard to his brother Sigismund Keystutovich who in his turn presented it in 1434 to his companion-in-arms, Vilno "kashtelian" Senka Gedygoldovich. The yard became a private ownership.

In 1486 Mir was possessed by Ilyinichs. In the 1510-1520–s during the reign of Yuriy Ilyinich a castle was built in the settlement. The first written mention about it belongs to 1527. In the middle of the 16th century Mir became the center of the homonymous county. In 1569 according to the will of Yuriy Ilyinich (the younger) it came into possession of  Radzivil Sirotka. Starting from 1579 Mir had a privilege of free production and selling alcohol beverages; citizens also had a right of free possession of their lands and houses with confirmation of town duties. This document was issued as a response filed to the request filed by citizens headed by voyt Pavel Andreyevich. Citizens confirmed this privilege with each following owner of Miri.

In 1589 Mir County was included to Nesvizh Ordinationii.

At the end of the 16th – in the beginning of the 17th century Mir was surrounded with earth banks and was turned into a fortress. Once could get there only through several gates; names of these gates defined directions of the main roads (Zamkovaya, Vilenskaya, Minskaya and Slonimskaya). During the reign of Radzivills seyms were organized in the castle. It is known that during some of these seyms several charters and other records were made in favor of Orthodox and Uniate Churchesiii.

In the first half of the 17th century Mir was an important center of handicraft and trading; 18 handicraft specialties are mentioned in the respective documents. During the 1620-s the town survived a pestilence. In commemoration of its victims a chapel was built in the Market square. During the war between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) (1654 – 1667) Mir was partially burnt; in 1655 it was occupied by Russian troops and then by Swedes. In 1667 there were 295 yards in the town. After the war it was rebuilt. At the end of the 17th century there were 478 yards and 49 handicraft specializations in Miriv.

During years of the Northern War (1700 – 1721) Mir was significantly damaged in 1706.

In the first half of the 18th century Radzivills let Mir County on lease. Linen and cloth factories were created here. Two times per year (in May and in December) month-long fairs were organized.

During the second half of the 18th century Gypsy people settled in Mir. In the field not far from Mir Gypsies from all corners of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania came together for electing their elders whom they called "Gypsy kings". Yan Martsynkevich is the most well-known. In 1778 he obtained a diploma from Karol Stanislav Radzivill who was also known as "Pane Kahanku". Martsynkevich was at rule up to 1790 and lived in Mir. Gypsies organized in Mir paper, cloth, weaving and fur manufactures which were flourishing during the 18th century. And during the 19th century they came into decay. But textile works of Gypsies living in Mir were still of good demandv. Gypsies living in Mir during the 19th century were engaged in smithery, locksmithery, bear breeding, spinner's business, shoe-making, treatment of horses, horse breeding and exchange of horses. No traces of Gypsy past have been preserved in Mir.

An insignificant group of population of the settlement was presented by Tatars who were Muslims by religion. For example in 1814 there were 19 Tatar yards in Mir where 87 persons livedvi. According to V.Syrakomli in the middle of the 19th century several dozens of Tatar families lived in Mir; they had a mosque and a mullah but they didn't remember who settled them there neither they knew when it happenedvii.

Being included to the Russian Empire (from 1795) Mir was a volost center of Novogrudy district. Mir is an urban-type settlement. In many respects it was not inferior to towns and even excelled them. Mir preserved importance of a significant trading and handicraft center.

In 1868 Mir alongside with other big settlements was planned to be bought out from their owners. The following information was presented: population was 3,772 people, 2,181 of them were engaged in industry and trading; 3 fairs and auctions every week; delivery of goods for fairs from 500 to 2,500; for auctions – from 100 to 300 rubles; 673 houses, 74 shops; 17 taverns and a mill; revenue: "czynsz" – 1,094 rubles, propination – 600 rubles.; surrender value: 22,600 rubles (of them 14,600 for czynsz and 8,000 for propination). "As for trading and industrial activities of its citizens this settlement resembles urban settlements. It includes a 2-year district specialized school, a public specialized school, a Jewish official school. The settlement is organized in form of a town with several streets”viii.

In the first half of the 19th century 8 fairs per year were organized in Mir. P.Spilevskiy wrote about two fairs called Nikolayevskiye fairs (on the 9th of May and on the 6th of December). The both fairs lasted during 2-3 weeks. The main peculiarity of these fairs consisted in the fact that the main items sold at these fairs were horses.

Agriculture was also very important for the economic life of the settlement especially among Christians. According to census of 1858 among 243 yards in Mir 13 yards were "handicraft" ones (30 men. and 22 women), other 230 yards were engaged in agricultureix.

In the beginning of the war 1812 a battle between the Russian Cossacks corps headed by general Platov and the Polish Uhlan division headed by general Razhetskiy (representatives of Napoleon troops) took place in this area. The owner of Mir prince Dominique Radzivill supported Napoleon.

After Dominique Radzivill's death and confiscation of his property in favor of the treasury of the Russian Empire in 1828 Mir came into possession of Prince Lev Wittgenstein. Starting from the second half of the 19th century Mir belonged to princes Sviatopolk-Mirskiys members of an old gentry’s family of "Bialynia" emblem.

According to data of 1833 population of the settlement was 4050 people (2,000 men and 2,050 women); merchants of the 2nd guild: 3 men, 1 woman; merchants of the 3rd guild: 31 men, 16 women; houses: 2 stone houses and 676 wooden housesx.

According to statistic information of the end of the 1860-s population of Mir was 4,273 people. The composition of population is presented in the following tablexi:

Total population of MirTotal population of Mir

Nobility and clergy
Merchants and ordinary citizens

representatives of rural estates

% from the total population

Christians Jews Christians Jews representatives of urban estates representatives of rural estates Jews
4273 96 54 2782 1341 - 68.6 31.4 65.1

In 1827 children 1 peasant, 24 ordinary citizens and 3 noblemen were pupils of a school at the RC church. Basilians also had a primary school.

Information about the level of literacy of population is presented in separate cases. For example in the census of 1858 it is stated that out of 1,337 peasants living in the settlement 628 persons were literate (47%), they obtained their education at parochial schools; at church schools or at homei.

Confessional structure of Mir in 1857 was as follows: 1,274 Orthodox Christians, 258 Catholics and 1,553 Jewsii.

In 1886 there were two churches, 7 synagogues, a mosque, a district specialized school, a school, a post house, an inn and 74 shops in Mir. In 1893 a wine distillery house was built. In 1897 the population of Mir was 5,401 people.

During the First World War Mir was in the immediate battle area. From February to December 1918 the settlement was occupied by troops of Kaiser Germany. In March of 1918 Mir was included to the proclaimed Belarus People's Republic.

During 1921 – 1939 Mir was a part of Poland, a gmina center of Stolbtsovo povet (district), Novogrudy voivodeship.

During the second half of the 1930-s Mir had about 6 thousand of population, a post office, a town court and a 7-year school.

After the Red Army entered the Western Belarus on the 17th of September 1939 Mir was included to the Belarus SSR; on the 15th of January 1940 it became an urban-type settlement of Mir district, Baranovichi region.

From the 26th of June 1941 and up to the 7th of July 1944 Mir was occupied by German fascist troops. More than 2,560 civilians were killed in Mir district during this period. Mir Komsomol underground was actively working.

During 1944 – 1956 Mir was the center of this district.

Since the 17th of December 1956 it belongs to Korelichi district.

In 2000 the Mir castle was included to the list of UNESCO world heritage.

In 2001 Mir obtained its emblem presented as a Spanish shield divided with toothed belts; in the upper part of this shield a black eagle (Radzivill's emblem) in the golden field is depicted; in the lower part three parallel beams are depicted against a red field : they are narrowd in the lower part (taken from Ilyinich's emblem).

In 2002 a republican holiday the "Day of Byelorussian Written Language" was organized.

Since 2003 a Regional festival of arts "Mir Castle" is yearly organized.

HISORY OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The first Jews settled in Mir in the beginning of the 17th century. Jewish community of Mir in the beginning of its existence was under Jurisdiction of Nesvizh community but few years later in view of its rapid growth it obtained its separate Jurisdiction and membership in Lithuanian Vaad. Meetings of this Vaad were carried out in Mir in 1697, 1702 and 1751. In 1685 magnates Radzivills presented the community with a right to carry out all court proceedings concerning Jews.

According to census of 1710 one of the biggest estates was owned by a lessee, a Jew G.Gertsovich. His estate situated in the Market square took the entire "pliats" and the building was constructed of stone. There is information about a "Jewish" school and a bathhouse situated in street Tserkovnaya. In Minsk suburbs a Jewish hospital was situatediii.

Number of Jewish population of Mir significantly increased during the first decades of the 18th century when thanks to activity of Jewish merchants Mir turned into a significant center of trading with Leipzig where fur from Mir were sent as well as with Baltic ports such as Koenigsberg, Memel (Klaipeda) and Libava ( Liepāja). Fairs regularly organized in Mir twice per year attracted Jewish merchants from all over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). In 1765 607 Jews taxpayers lived in Mir and the suburbs. Starting from the second part of the 18th century the trading importance of Mir decreased.

Being included to the Russian Empire Jews living in Mir as well as in all Byelorussian and Lithuanian regions faced the restrictive policy of the Authorities. But during the period of war between Russia and France in 1812, anti-Russian rebellions of 1794, 1830 – 1831, 1863 – 1864 the main Jews remained neutral. But there were exclusions. For example during the war of 1812 some of Jews living in Mir assisted the Russian army. This fact is confirmed through the request filed by Borukh Evnovich Chorny to Grodno governor in 1814 about his nomination for an award for his good service. “in June 1812 when in view of penetration of enemy troops to our territory I applied by count Platov for various expeditions for learning position of the enemy and other peculiarities. I performed all my duties and count Platov announced that for my diligence he will nominate me for award of the Emperor. But I was left without any written confirmation whether count Platov did this nomination on account of quick retreat of our troops. Enemy plundered all my property in Mir settlement and even threatened to take my life"iv. And it is unknown what the result of viewing this request was.

In 1806 807 Jews lived in Mir (30 of them were merchants, 106 were tailors), in 1833 Jewish population was 1,583 (75.5 % of the total population of the settlement)v, in 1847 Jewish population was 2,273 persons; in 1897 3,319 Jews lived in the settlement (about 62 % of the total population)vi. The most of Jews were handicrafts and traders; some of them were rich merchants. Broad trading relations of rich Jewish merchants are confirmed in particular through acts of Leipzig fair for 1832 where names of several laymen were presentedvii.

There is information about turnover of shop trading performed by Jews living in Mir. So, in 1822 Mir stood out on the general background of insignificant capital of shop trading performed in settlements of Grodno government: the respective indexes in Mir were quite high. Eighteen shopkeepers of Mir had a turnover from 100 to 900 rubles (in general 323 rubles for a shop)viii.

Merchants living in Mir were engaged in industrial entrepreneurship. So, in 1839 at the cloth factory of the 3rd guild merchant Meyer Leybovich Chorny (5 mills) 3,200 units of cloths were produced for the general sum of 2,400 rubles.ix This merchant leased Prince Wittgenstein cloth factoryx.

Lesseeship was a widespread business among the Jewish population. So, post houses in settlements Mir and Korelichi in 1833 – 1836 were leased by Jew Zhukhovetskiyxi.

Jewish craftsmen not included to any workshops were serious competitors for Christian craftsmen working in workshops. Sometimes it led to conflicts. Yet from 1686 a Christian weaving workshop existed in Mir. In 1824 Jew Movsha Itskovich Shmukhler got into weaving and soon 40 other Jewish families also joined this business. Incomes of Christian craftsmen began to decline. In 1825 Jewish weavers set the following complaint: "the weaving workshop started to prohibit us from dealing in weaving and to buy at auctions. And their only pretext is that Jews have no right to perform any kind of trading. The workshop confiscated all our materials forcefully and without any permission..." In 1827 workshop master Trushynskiy applied to the Radzivill committee located in Vilno "seeking for exclusion of Jews from weaving business in Mir". And the committee complied with the request. In 1830 the Grodno governor marked in his report presented to the Minister of Home Affairs: “... taking into account the situation of this district one cannot admit that it is advantageous to prevent Jews from weaving. It is so because of an insufficient number of craftsmen and an insufficient quality of their produce. And as far as the settlement is patrimonial all economic arrangements should be presented to sole discretion of Radzivill family...”xii.

Let's pay attention that handicraft activities unlike trading were not considered prestigious among Jews and in the Jewish society and these activities were disrespected. But this matter should be approached differentially: handicrafts Jews were engaged in can be divided into three groups: 1) artistic handicrafts (goldsmiths, silversmiths, watch makers, die-sinkers etc.) – they were of great honor in the Jewish society; 2) handicrafts in narrow sense (tailors, hatters, dyers, joiners, smiths etc.) 3) trading occupations (stove setters, carpenters, bricklayers, carters etc.) – they were not respected in the Jewish societyxiii. In Jewish communities there was also the so called "holy" handicraft related with performing religious prescriptions. These occupations included shoykhert (slaughterer), soyfer (copyist of Torah), moel (circumciser), khazan (or cantor, a singer in synagogues who performs divine services). In 1834 there were 83 khazans in communities of Grodno government (as a rule one khazan per settlement; but in larger settlements there were more khazans; so, in Mir there were 4 khazans), 107 slaughterers (as a rule 1-2 in each settlement, in Mir there were 3 slaughterers), 195 circumcisers (as a rule 1-2 in each settlement, in Mir there were 6 circumcisersxiv.

A big significance in the sphere of economic life of Jewish families belonged to occupations related with production and selling of alcoholic beverages. An intense competition between landlords, Jews and the state existed in this sphere. So, in 1696 Jew achieved from princes Radzivills a privilege for selling "hot" beverages. The same right they had according to the instruction 1779 as well as according to the decision of the Radzivill's committee. For their right of free selling of alcohol Jews paid 5 ½ cop. silv. per each garnet. In 1843 Jews were deprived of this right by Grodno governing boardxv. But it doesn't mean that this restriction was irreproachably fulfilled.

Starting from the 18th century Mir became an important spiritual center of Jewry of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). The most well-known rabbis living in Mir include: halachist and preacher M. Eisenstadt (1670?-1744), a talmudist S.Z. Mirkish (Mirkes, the 18th century), I. D. Eisenstadt (1776–1826), a halahist A.Z. H. Eisenstadt (1813–68), a talmudist E. D. Rabinovich-Teomim (1842/43–1905)xvi.

In the beginning of the 19th century Hasidism (a religious mystic trend in Judaism) became especially influential in Mir and precisely that was Hasidic movement Habad (Lubavic Hasidism). In the middle of the 19th century there were 80 Hasids of both genders in Mir. And the total number of Jews was 2,273. That is the share of Hasids among the Jewish population of the settlement was 3.5%xvii. According to governing officials in 1852 there were "24 male souls of "kitayovets" and there are no more Jewish sects (...) they pray the God at a special schoolxviii.

According to the same source in 1853 Mir had a public wooden synagogue, a prayerful school (bes-medrash), a stone one, number of parishioners was1520; 4 wooden prayerful schoolsxix.

In 1815 a talmudist and a major trader Sh. ben X. Tiktinskiy (he died in 1835) grounded a well-known Yeshiva in Mir. Yeshiva "Mir" became well known in the beginning of the 20th century when it was headed by a well-known talmudist reb Eliyezer Iyeguda Finkel who managed to gather major Jewish religious authorities of that period under one roof. During the prosperity period of Mir yeshiva about 300 persons from all countries of the world learned there. Those were people from such countries as the USA, Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark etc.xx

This yeshiva was the center of spiritual life of the shtetl. Lessons could be attended not only by students of the yeshiva but also citizens of the settlement. Discussions were organized after lessons. Yeshiva students who bordered with rich citizens of the settlement had to carry learning conversations. According to Shaul Stampfer success of learning Torah could provide a quick "way up" for a youth from a poor family through marriage with a daughter of a rich person. And that was an additional stimulus for learning. Among rich but illiterate traders it was considered prestigious to have an "illuy" (a capable pupil) as their son-in-lawxxi.

It should be marked that yeshivas played a significant role in the economic life of settlements they were situated in. Yeshibotniks were the main clients of small shops and craft stalls; they gave citizens an opportunity to earn money by means of rendering various kinds of services (provision of housing, nutrition, garment washing, carrying water etc.).

The initial religious education was presented by heders. Number of heders depended on the number of Jewish population. Many melameds (private teachers of the elementary school) were engaged in learning Jewish children at private houses. So, in 1850 there were 6 melameds in Mir.

Russian authorities undertook measurs against the religious system of Jewish education. In the Lithuanian State Historical Archive a "Case concerning a Jewish yeshibot who was engaged in Mir of Novogrudy district without permission". This case includes information presented by citizens of Mir concerning "the Law of Moses". Contents of this information was as follows: "We as well as other faithful subjects want to learn the Domestic Russian Language (…) but the obstacle is that fanatic Jews have organized a Yeshibot in Mir which hasn't been approved by the authorities. This yeshibot is visited by 200 young Jews every day. And the most fanatic Jews teach nothing but Talmud… Under oath people are prohibited from learning the Russian and the German Languages... There is a district public school but it is not attended by Jews. The main activists of secret maintenance of the Yeshibot are: collector of Mir Jewish society David Zhukhovitskiy (he is harmful for the government in all relations) as well as Chaim Leib Taktinskiy. The main purpose of maintaining the Yeshibot is to support fanaticism among Jews as well as enrichment as far as main activists of the Yeshibot send their missionaries almost throughout the Empire to places where Jews live; they collect significant funds used by the activist for their own purposes. It was reported that a yeshibot was organized in the school yard in the building in front of the district specialized school and in Jewish houses (as a separate yeshibot - up to 20 houses). More than 200 boys aged 7 to 15 learned at these organizations. Novogrudy district police officer trying to justify himself wrote in his report that not far from the district specialized school a "prayerful house was built where about 70 Jewish boys gathered for prayer and praying is directed by Jew Taktinskiy".

The district police officer denied availability of numerous visiting students at the yeshva. He wrote: "And concerning the matter of visiting boys coming to Mir from Kurliandia, Zhmudi, Volyn and the kingdom of Poland it is greatly exaggerated. Of course there are some visiting Jews who are married Jewish women living in Mir; they live with their wives' parents and are engaged in sale of wine or in other trading; their children obtain education like all other boys living in Mir. And concerning Taktinsliy's broad exchange of letters this fact has been confirmed. Some Jews really exchange letters on their commercial affairs with Jews from Riga".

The Police Report also included information about heders: "Some Jews living in Mir have up to 100 pupils (boys aged 7-9). They learn initial prayers under supervision of melameds who are admitted by the law. Fanatic melameds obstruct development and russification of Jews". This report was finished with characteristics given to personalities: "Jews Taktinskiy, Movsha and Leyba Pertsovichs as well as Itska Chorny are real fanatics spending time in constant praying. Collector Zhukhovitskiy is a more developed Jewish personality. He is engaged in public affairs in the sphere of religion and doesn't have much influence on the society. The most influence is caused by the local rabbi whose existence (as well as existence of melameds) has its meaning just in conditions of supporting fanaticism"xxii.

Such negative characteristic of the traditional system of Jewish education can be also met in other documents. In particular such negative characteristic is presented in the anonymous note included to the archive case "About Main Measures taken for Arrangement of Jews" 1857 г.” where it is stated: "... Yeshibots should be completely forbidden because hundreds of fanatic rabbis, preachers and melameds are yearly graduated from these organizations... Such yeshibots (for example in settlement Mir) are under supervision of school authorities; they obtain their programs from these authorities; but it is a real lie and fraud because for example in settlements Volozhyn and Mir where the most important yeshibots have been organized there are no school officials. … While these breeders of poisonous vegetation exist they will obstruct those few treating drops flowing from official rabbinic schools»xxiii.

There are some documents preserved concerning struggle of Jews living in Mir against a high and fiscal burden and duties in favor of owners of the settlement. So in 1832 Jews set a complaint against their duty to repair three bridges at the mill as well as against payments in favor of the yard management office taken from all goods brought by citizens for sale as well as for domestic use xxiv.

“The case concerning the request filed by Mir Jews about abolishment of illegal duties organized in this settlement in favor of its owners represents an exchange of letters on this matter between officials during 1843 - 1963.xxv. This archive document presents us with the following information. After Novogrudy district was included to Minsk government in 1843 Jews filed another complaint to the Government authorities against illegal duties they had to pay to the owner including duties collected from bier.

In 1845 the Novogrudy court defined that income of the settlement leased by peasant Plebanskiy and noblemen Ivanovsiys doesnt comply with the instruction of 1835 as far as additional taxes were collected (for example taxes on flour and wood etc.). The district court ordered to liquidate illegal taxes.

In 1847 Jews living in Mir disputed in Novogrudy district court the propination duty collected from them; they presented the Radzivill's privilege presented to them in 1734 where it is stated that Jews of Mir settlement "are released of all church duties in order they could perform all other duties they performed before and should perform in future.”xxvi. Prince Wittgenstein yard management office was based on instruction of 1799.

In July 1863 Zelik Bruk, Izrail Ziger and others (16 persons in total) set a complaint to the head of the government that the yard management office "in addition to the basket tax for butchering for kosher " takes additional 45 kopecks in case of slaughter of a bullock; 5 kopecks in case of slaughter of a calf and 5 kopecks in case of slaughter of a sheep for their own purposes; and because of that a pound of meat appears to be twice more expensive in comparison with Grodno”. xxvii.

A request of the 12th of December 1863 has been preserved including signatures of Jews it was filed by. It was filed in Yiddish and concerned burdensome duties on all goods and products. Jews asked to call up copies of all privileges presented in Novogrudy court. “In addition to that Christians refused to pay those duties and were not obliged to do that”xxviii.

Jews struggled not just against lawlessness of the yard management office, owners of the settlement but also against abuses of the qahal authorities. So in 1834 Volf Juda Shiomovich complained that in 1828 Mir qahal took his son Getsel Ayzik Volfovich to perform military service under an assumed name Nosel Volfovichxxix.

Ordinary members of the Jewish community of Mir tried to challenge results of elections of qahal authorities. In 1838 "Jews Meyer Shemeliovich Ginsburg, Iosel Volfovich Hasin and others (the total number was 11 persons) as well Jewish woman Sora Hsimova filed a request to the Government board. They stated that the qahal head of Mir Benjamin Ziselevich Iskoldskiy was elected by means of tricks and that he burdened the society with various irregular taxes and public sums to be paid, that he was always drunk and that he frightened citizens with beatings during the previous three years of his taking this position and now he tried to obtain this position and so they asked not to admit him (...) The Jewish woman Sora Khasimova informed that Iskoldskiy had beaten his husband who now suffered from a disease. And despite the fact that according to the order of Novogrudy district court inspection was carried out citizens of Mir were afraid of victimizations performed by the head of the qahal and tried to avoid giving testimony"xxx. Although Benjamin Iskoldskiy tool the majority of votes during elections but wasn't approved as the head of the qahal.

Fires were a frequent disaster for citizens of Mir. So, in the result of a fire on the 9th of August 1892: "... property of almost all citizens of Mir settlement was destroyed and now more than 1000 families have lost not Just their shelter but also their food..." Money for victims of the fire was collected on the entire pale of settlement. For example Jews from Belostok took a decision to allocate 1000 rubles from the local basket tax for Jewish victims of the fire in Mirxxxi. Fires in Mir also took place in 1894, 1898 and 1910. Information about the last of them was presented in the first Byelorussian newspaper "Nasha Niva"; “A significant area in of the very center of the settlement burnt out. The fire started from the pottery plant”xxxii.

At the border of the 19th and the 20th centuries Bund and Poaley Zion were organizations of great influence in Mir. In 1904–1905 Jewish  self-defense worked in Mir (under this term one should understand activities of Jewish population on preventing and suppression violent actions aimed against Jews as well as names of organizations working in this sphere). In 1914 Zionist organization was founded. In 1913 a Jewish library a Jewish hospital "Bikur Hoylim" with the only Jewish physician worked in the settlement. Jews were owners of the only pharmacy shop and the warehouse of pharmacy goods as well as 23 shops (including all 8 manufactories and 2 haberdasher's shops).

In 1920 Jewish population of Mir was 2,100 persons (55.4% of total population). In 1921 2074 Jews lived in the settlement (about 55% of the total population). In 1939 total population of Mir was 5,500 and, 3,300 of them were Jews. 90% of population of streets Vysokaya (now Kirova street), Prodolnaya (Pionerskaya street) and Tatarskaya (Tankistov) were Jews. During 1930-s Avrom-Zvi Kamay (?–1941) was the Rabbi in Mirxxxiii.

Mir had Jewish schools of such organizations as Tarbut, Yavne and Bet Yakov. Information presented by the Police concerning public and political movement in Mir confirms influence of Zionism and Bund ideas on the Jewish population of Mir. For example in 1934 in police reports it was stated: "Zionists cause influence on: the department of the Central organization of Jewish Children Protection: 32 members, Zionists cause influence on 90% of members of this organization; there is a Zionist party keeping under its influence the cultural and educational society Tarbut with 38 members in Mir; Zionists cause influence on 100% of members of this organization; there is a charitable organization "Gemilus hesed" with 239 members and Zionist cause influence on 45% of them; there is a sport organization "Ha-haluts pioneer" [Zionist Scouts] with 28 members in Mir and Zionists cause influence on100% of members of this organization. Bund cause influence on: Association of Jewish schools with 12 members in Mir, Bund causes influence on 100% of members of this organization"xxxiv.

In 1921 the well-known Yeshiva came back to Mir (during years of the First World War it had moved to Poltava). During the interwar period it had 500 pupils from many countries of Europe. After Mir was included to the USSR (1939) activity of non-communist Jewish organizations was prohibited. The Yeshiva moved to  Vilnius. After Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Army pupils of the Yeshiva headed by rabbi E. Finkel obtained transit visas from the Japanese consul Simpa Sigukhara in Kovno and left for Shanghai. And after the Second World War Ended they moved to New York and Jerusalem where they created Yeshivas named "Mir".  A great number of literary sources (memoir literature and scientific literature) tell us about the Yeshiva in Mir, there are documentary films (including the film created within ONT project "Countdown" named "Iz Mira v Mir" ("From Mir to the World)).

Memories of present-day citizens of Mir about the settlement during the prewar period give evidence of active entrepreneurial activity of Jews especially in the sphere of trading. The sphere of trading was almost completely in hands of Jews and that is confirmed by the fact that almost all trading organizations (shops, inns, taverns, drinking houses restaurants etc.) were owned by Jews. Today citizens of Mir recollect that before the war there were 100-150 shops and almost all of them belonged to Jews. Only one shop belonged to a Pole and two shops were Byelorussian ones. Jews were owners of inns and hotels. Today old timers of Mir recollect some names of their owners: Bogatin, Rabinovich, Trus, Goldin. Jews were also hairdressers and physicians. According to recollections of citizens of Mir some physicians were: Miller, Slepak, gynecologist Botvinskiy, dantist Sudinova), pharmacists (there were 4 pharmacy shops in Mir. they belonged to Liliya Khaymovich, Shvarz Chorny, Razovskiy and Pernik; Haymovichs' pharmacy shop worked round the clock)xxxv.

Religious and cultural life of the settlement was rich and diverse. Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim holidays were celebrated here. According to recollections of citizens Jewish and a Tatar primary schools worked in the settlement. There was also a 7-year Polish school as well as Jewish and Muslim religious school. There were Polish and Jewish youth organizations, a wind band and a theatrical group. Evening parties and Dance parties were organized. Mir was visited by artists and strongmen. Inspections and competition of fire-fighting teams were carried out.

On the 27th of July 1941 Mir was occupied by German troops. On the 9th of November 1941 1,500 Jews were shot dead, 850 Jews became prisoners of the ghetto, which was moved to the territory of Mir castle in May of 1942. A Jewish resistance group consisting of 80 persons performed its activity in the ghetto. In the beginning of August 1942 the group obtained information about the campaign of ghetto liquidation prepared by Germans (information was presented by Shmuel (Osvald) Rufeisen who worked as a translator at the local police commandants’ office). And on the 9 of August the group organized escape of 167 (according to other data – of 150 or from 200 to 300) Jews to the forest. There they faced anti-Semitism in the sphere of soviet partisans and that lead to death of many escaped prisoners; and only some of them managed to join partisan parties. By the time of release of Grodno region in July 1944 only about 40 persons of this group remained alive. Jews who remained in ghetto were killed on the 13 of August 1942. In 1966 – 1967 on common graves (in streets Tankistov, Oktiabrskaya, in ditrict Yablonovshchina) obelisks were set up.

Archive Yad Vashem includes several memories about fate of Jews from Mir during the Second World War. Among them:

- Chaim Shmulevich: about life in yeshiva and its evacuation through Japan;

- Shmuel Cesler (born in Mir in 1920): life before the war, family traditions, heder, yeshiva, the soviet power in 1939, beginning of the war, the first campaign of extermination in November 1941, escape from ghetto of 150 Jews with a help of Shmuel (Oswald) Rufeisen;

- Izkhaak Pozniak (born in Mir in 1902): Mir ghetto, escape, partisans, return to Mir after the war;

- Shloma Charchas: Mir ghetto, participation in the Resistance movement (60 members), Shmuel (Oswald) Rufeisen, plans of escape and their implementation on the 9th of August 1942;

- Zelda Shlomit, Gordon (born in Nesvizh in 1927): life before the war, Mir ghetto, escape to partisans;

- Simcha Itzkovitz (born in Mir 1927): Mir ghetto, campaign of the 9th of November 1941, escape to the forest to partisans, help of Oswald Rufeisen, life in the forest, joining Belskiy's group;

- Ester Sverzhenskaya (born in Mir 1923): Mir ghetto, shooting of the 9th of November 1941, 800 Jews, escape from the ghetto with a help of Oswald Rufeisen;

- Oswald Rufeisen’s memoriesxxxvi.

After liberation of Mir only 40 Jews lived there.

In memory of killed Jews living in Mir a forestland was created by the Jewish National Fund jointly with the Jerusalem community in the north of Jerusalem. This forestland was "Forest Mir". The first 100 trees were planted in the beginning of the 1980-s for funds presented by Rosa Zwik in memory of her husband, a copyist of holy texts Israel Zwik. They were saved thanks to help of partisans.

Today there are no Jews in Mir. According to the census of 2009 there are no Jews in the entire Korelichi district.

ARCHEOLOGYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Archaeological excavations were organized on the territory of this settlement in 1982 – 1984 and 1988 – 1989 by Alexander Kravtsevich. A cultural layer of the Middle Age period (1 - 3.5 m) was found. The most powerful cultural layer was discovered in the center of the settlement, around the square. Findings included: ovenware (pots, plates, bowls, mugs, jugs, jiggers etc.), ceramic tiles (with vegetative, geometric, zoomorphic, heraldic ornamentation), glassware (bottles, goblets, quarts, cups, drinking glasses etc.), window glasses of the 17th - the 18th centuries, candlesticks, smoking pipes, nails, axes, horseshoes, items made of bones and stones, two monetary treasures of the 17th century.

In the center of the settlement not far from the square remains of a large stone building of the 17th century were found. Probably that was a town hall. Researches indicate that in the 17th century the main territory of the settlement was situated within a rectangular area bordered with up-to-date streets Tankistov, Leningradskaya, Pervomayskiy lane and river Miranka.

Archaeological researches of the castle were performed in 1912 by Y. Yadkovskiy, in 1972 by M. Tkachev, in 1980 – 1984, 1989 – 1991 by O.Trusov (in 1982 jointly with I. Cherniavskiy). In the result of these researches a cultural layer from 0.2 – 0.3 m near banks and up to 1.8 m not far from castle walls and in the south-western part of the yard. It was found out that in the second half of the 15th century a settlement was situated at the place of the stone castle. This settlement was destroyed in fire. Findings included: ceramic smoking pipes, pots, plates, bawls, jugs, large-size bricks, glassware, metalware (knives, horseshoes, spurs, buckles, forks, keys, locks etc.), coins, cannon balls, a great amount of ceramic tiles etc. xxxvii

Materials obtained in the results of excavations are kept in Korelichi Museum of Local History and at the Museum of old-Byelorussian culture of NAS of Belarus.

RELIGION INSTITUTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

In the 16th century (during a period of 1533 – 1550) the St. Trinity church was built as a temple of the Basilian Monastery. After the fire of 1865 the church was rebuilt in the retrospective Russian style. Up to date it is an acting church.

At the end of the 16th - beginning of the 17th centuries (1599 – 1605) at the place of a wooden RC church built in 1587 according to N.K. Radzivill's foundation "Sirotki" ("Orphans") a stone one was built in the Renaissance style. In 1710 the RC church was renewed. A school and a hospital worked at the RC church.

According to Muravyov's proposal Mir RC church was closed. In the exchange of letters on this matter between officials it was stated: "The RC Church was built in 1604 by Prince Kristof Radzivill. The number of parishioners is 619 men and 624 women (including 74 men and 58 women living directly in this settlement - 132 persons), at the same time the number of Orthodoxes is 1,313 persons in the settlement and over 5,000 persons in the entire parish. The RC Church is built of stone and is quite spacious. And the Orthodox Church is so small that it cannot provide space even for a half of parishioners and that's why praying people often have to stay outside the church building during divine services and that's why they sometimes go to the RC church with greater desire"xxxviii. On the 10th of August 1865 Catholics of Mir asked to preserve the RC church in Mir marking that there were more than 200 souls of Catholics in the settlement. But the RC church was adapted for an Orthodox church. Up to date it is an acting RC church.

The Tatar mosque was erected in Mir yet before 1795; it was reconstructed in 1840.xxxix In 1939 it burnt down and now there is a barn at its place (str. Moskovskaya, 32).

While Christians and Muslims living in Mir had one temple Jews had several temples. According to information collected by the government administration in 1834 the following number of Jewish institutions and officials were registered in Mir for 2,198 persons of Jewish population: 5 prayerful schools; 8 temporary prayerful schools; 8 specialized schools for Jewish children; 4 cantors; 5 trumpeters; 2 town rabbis, 2 other rabbis; 1 commentator of law; 5 judges; 8 synagogue officers; 4 prayerful school servants; 5 readers; 3 butchers; 6 circumcisersxl.

In 1840 not very detailed information was collected and it turned out that for 2,084 Jews of both genders there were: 1 synagogue, 4 prayerful schools, 2 specialized schools, 1 rabbi, 1 synagogue elder, 1 treasurerxli.

During collecting information about existing synagogues and Jewish prayerful houses in 1853 it was marked out that: "... there are one synagogue and five prayerful houses in Mir. The synagogue is built of wood and there is a warm school at this synagogue (bet-midrash school). There are four minor prayerful schools (so called "prishkolki"); they have worked for 200 years but haven't been approved by anybody and there is no respective information or documents. The number of parishioners is 1520 persons"xlii. The prayerful schools and the synagogue were situated in the center of the settlement not far from the market on lands belonging to the Jewish community. This place was called the school yard or "shkolishche" (the last name is still mentioned by local old-timers)

In 1865 there were 1 synagogue and 6 prayerful schools in Mirxliii.

In 1886 Minsk government board gave a permission "for carrying out divine services in eight prayerful schools: "Synagogue", "Handicraft School", "Handicraft Zhukhovitskaya School", "Yeshibot", "Vysikun", "Stone School" – these were prayerful schools of rabbinists; "Liakhovicheskaya School" and "Habat" – these were prayerful schools of Hasids situated in public wooden houses"xliv. It is difficult to imagine how these buildings looked like as far as they were burnt in the result of a fire on the 9th of August 1892. Many of them were rebuilt of stone.

1) The prayerful school defined in documents of the government administration as "Stone School" was built in the middle of the 19th century. After the fire of 1892 it was rebuilt. The building has been preserved up till the present time although in 1950 it was adjusted for a primary school.

2) In December 1892 the attorney of Mir Jewish society Shleyma Zeselev Charny filed a request to the Minsk Government Board about opening a wooden Jewish prayerful school named "Zavalnaya" in the public square in street Zavalnaya (now it is Leningradskaya street). The project for construction of a one-storied building was approved on the 24th of May 1893. "Zavalnaya" prayerful school was built in July 1893 and in August permission for carrying out devine services was obtained. But the building was burnt again in the result of a fire on the 27th of July 1898. On the 8th of January 1899 a citizen of Mir Efroim Yankelevich Zhuk presented for approval the plan of his existing Stone house in Vysokaya street where a Jewish prayerful school was planned to be organized instead of "Zavalnaya" one destroyed by the fire. From technical point of view this plan was approved. It is unknown how long the school existed in Zhuk's house. During the 1920-s - 1930-s the stone building erected at the place of the destroyed wooden prayerful school "Zavalnaya" became the place where students of Talmud Academy obtained their education. After units of the Red Army entered Mir (in September 1939) a club and a cinema were organized in this building. The building also suffered during years of the Great Patriotic War. Just at the end of the 1940-s it was reconstructed and rebuilt and up to date a post office department is situated in it.

3) The Wooden Jewish prayerful school "Remeslennaya" admitted in accordance with the decree of Minsk government board of the 30th of July 1886 was burnt in the result of a fire in August of 1892. The project of its construction in form of a stone building was viewed and approved on the 24th of May 1893. In August the attorney of Minsk Jewish Society Sheyma Zeselevich Charny set a request to the government board about permission of carrying out divine services in the new stone "Handicraft" school which had already been finished. The permission was obtained but in the result of a fire on the 27th of July 1898 the roof of this building was burnt. In spring 1899 the building was repaired. The stone Jewish prayerful school "Handicraft" hasn't survived till the present period of time. It is probable that this building was destroyed yet during years of the First World War and Leiba Pozniak warehouse was constructed on its place. Up to date a grocery store is situated there.

4) The wooden synagogue in Vysokaya street (now Kirova street) was constructed in the first half of the 19th century but it was burnt during a fire in 1892. Frequent fires made parishioners of this synagogue to choose a project of a stone building which was approved by the building department of the government board on the 28th of August 1893. Due to lack of funds construction was finished only in September of 1909. Permission for carrying out divine services was obtained in March of 1910. The building was used for the intended purpose during a long period of time - almost until penetration of the Nazi troops. Even after the settlement was occupied by the Red Army in September 1939 it was the only prayerful schools which remained open for parishioners. The building has been preserved (with some insignificant reconstructions). In 1950 a school gym and a library were organized in it. Up to date a driving school is situated there.

5) Prayerful school "Zhukhovitskaya Handicraft" in Zavalnaya street) was renewed after the building was destroyed in the result of a fire on the 9th of August 1892. First it was reconstructed as a wooden building and after the next in succession fire in 1894 it was performed as a stone building. Construction was finished in May 1897. And up to date building the building of this prayerful school can be observed in Pervomayskaya street. Its appearance is almost unchanged. The building is presented as a classic style synagogue on the territory of Belarus.

6) Prayerful school "Vysikun" ("Vasikin" - the one starting to pray before the sunrise). After a fire in 1892 in was reconstructed in form of a stone two-storied building at the same place in Vysokaya street running through the School Square and being a part of this square (now it is Kirova street). At request of parishioners having no funds for performing this construction the 1st guild merchant Wulf Mlelov Chorny-Schwarz started construction at his own expense. Construction was finished quickly: in April 1894 an act was compiled confirming completion of construction works. Permission for carrying out divine services was obtained. After the Great Patriotic War the building was thoroughly rebuilt: a portico appeared on the facade as well as columns and a balcony with forged gating; internal space was divided into class rooms. Starting from 1950 a secondary school was situated in this building. And during the last years a vocational training center has been organized there.

7) Hasidic prayerful school "Liakhovitskaya" before the fire of 1892 was situated in a wooden public house. In 1893 the project of its stone variant was approved. The school was built in Kalish lane (now this lane doesn't exist). The building hasn't survived.

8) Hasidic Prayerful school "Koydanovskaya" was initially called "Habat". Probably financial hardships didn't give parishioners an opportunity to restore it. That's why on the 28th of April 1894 the plan of Ruvin Arendor's house situated in Shkolnaya street and given for organization a Jewish prayerful school "Koydanovskaya" was given for consideration. In May 1894 the project was approved and divine services were started there. The building was destroyed during years of the Great Patriotic War. Its appearance can be presented in accordance with project drawings preserved in the archivexlv.

All buildings of Mir prayerful schools were heated. The stone synagogue had three stoves and that's why it seemed to be warmer. And two stoves in prayerful school "Vysikun" couldn't heat high walls of the building and that's why during many years there was an erroneous opinion that the two-storied building is a building of the cold and unheated synagogue. It can be considered that the only complex of "synagogue yard" buildings on the territory of Belarus has survived in Mir. These are so called "cold" synagogue and "arm" synagogue, a school as well as buildings of qahal and yeshiva.

SECULAR INSTITUTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

As far as Mir performed and performs the administrative function (during various periods of time it was the center of volost, gmina, village council) it had respective institutions: volost board, later gmina board and village board.

Being a center of handicraft Mir had handicraft workshops. For example it is known that yet in the first half of the 19th century there were weaver's workshops (belonging to Orthodoxes).

Among industrial institutions several textile factories organized by Gypsies worked in Mir in the 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century there were two cloth factories in Mir. One of them belonged to owners of the settlement (Wittgenstein family) and the other one was owned by merchant of the 3rd guild Chorny. At the end of the 19th century a wine distillery was grounded. In the beginning of the 20th century a potter's plant is mentioned.

Being the center of trading Mir had such periodic institutions of trading as fairs and weekly auctions. Stationary trading was mainly performed in shops. Among other types of retail outlets there were also inns, taverns, restaurants etc.

According to information of 1833 there was one factory (15 workers), 20 shops and 25 drinking houses in the settlementxlvi. According to data of 1866 eight fairs were carried out in Mir yearly: 4 fairs were carried out in spring (starting from the 9th of May), 4 fairs were organized in winter (starting from the 6th of December, every week on Mondays). All fairs are known as Nikolskiy's fairs"xlvii.

Various educational establishments functioned in Mir being a center of education. Secular primary schools appeared in the 19th century. In the beginning of the 19th century Mir had a primary school which was maintained by middle class citizens.

In 1885 Mir had a volost board, a police station of the 4th level of Novogrudy district, a village specialized school, a village hospital, a pharmacy shop and a post office. At the end of the 19th century Mir had specialized schools for men and for women, a post office, 76 shops, 3 fairs.

Number of trading and industrial institutions, educational establishments and institutions in the sphere of services increased significantly during the interwar period. There were a gmina, a police station, a court, a bank, a post office approximately 100-150 shops (according to recollections of old timers), several inns and hotels, 5 restaurants, 4 pharmacy shops, 2 hairdressing salons, billiards etc.

A small power station was created by Jews at the mill. It gave electricity to the settlement. Foreign Jews recollect about this fact in a very interesting way. Rukhoma Shein: "There was a small power station. Every evening lamps in the town started to light and to died out. That was the way the electrician informed his wife that he was going home and that she should start to cook a supper for him. When Bessi, Rukhoma's sister swiched on the American novelty (electric iron) the entire town sank into darkness: the iron took the entire energyxlviii.

Up to date the following institution work in Mir: a creamery plant, a bread-baking plant, a distillery, a battery farm (in 2004 an unknown bird laid the biggest egg in the world), a complex of public services, a forestry, a secondary school, a technical school, a music school, a nursery school, a recreation center, two libraries, a hospital, a postal telegraph office, the castle complex "Mir", Victor Sakel's private museum "Mirskiy Posad", a center of traditional production of tiles and pottery etc.

URBAN PLANNINGDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Mir turned into a town during the period of Ilyinichi. In the middle of the 16th century it consisted of the old part and the new part. The New town was formed by Slonim and Minsk outskirts situated outside the town fortifications. There was a rectangular trading square in the center of the old part of the town. It included 109 shops and a "vazhnitsa" which formed two parallel rows of buildings. Living houses (40 yards or "pliats") surrounded the market from three sides. Streets Slonimskaya, Vilenskaya, Vysokaya, Minskaya, were going from the market square in radial directions. These streets ended in gates going through the town bank in magistral directions. In addition to that there was Tatarskaya street going from the Minsk gates along the bank. There were 228 yards in the Old town. The New town had two suburbs and three streets which didn't present a unified architectural and planning composition; there were also 221 yards ("pliats") there. The total number of yards in the town was 450, 295 of them were built upxlix.

Architectural planning of Mir had a radial cyclic nature. Vegetable gardens and barns were situated separately from estates (farmstead territories) in specially defined territories (it can be easily seen on the plan of land plots of the town of 1847)l:

According to the inventory of 1830li and the town plan of 1831lii the town included streets Slonimskaya, Vilenskaya, Nesvizhskaya, Vysokaya, Tserkovnaya, Minskaya, Glukhaya, Gumennaya, Zavalnaya, Tatarskaya, Za Brovarom, suburbs Minskoye and Slonimskoye.

The up-to-date Mir has preserved traces natural for Byelorussian privately owned towns: historical urban planning and a castle-park complex. Unfortunately Mir as well as the absolute majority of other inhabited localities of Belarus hasn't preserved historical names of its squares and streets. Today the following streets and squares are situated near the magnificent Gothic-Renaissance castle of the 16th century: – square of the 17th of September, streets Krasnoarmeyskaya, Pionerskaya, Tankistov, Kirova, 1 Maya, Moskovskaya, Leningradskaya…

Project of returning the historical toponymy of Mir

ETHNOGRAPHYDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Description of Mir was presented by ethnographer and man of letters of the middle 19th century Pavel Shpilevskiy. He paid a significant attention to Gypsies living in Mir: "Gypsies being really numerous here drive together herds of horses of various sorts and kinds. And those willing to acquire horses come to Mir from very distant district of Minsk, Grodno and Vilno governments. Gypsies sell well-fed horses and buy downtrodden and tired ones for next to nothing and later on they sell these horses with great profit. One can say that in fairs carried out in Mir there is nothing but Gypsies and horses. Mir is a real capital of this black tribe which has settled here since the period of Radzivill Pane Kokhanku".

Shpilevskiy presented description of the last Gypsy king (elder) Yan Martsynkevich who was famous for his whims, lived very luxuriously and organized chic banquets attended by well-known Polish gentlemen and even Pane Kokhanku himself. Martsynkevich built a palace in Mir and surrounded himself with a suite consisting of numerous Gypsies. He tried to copy his prominent patron Radzivill in all things. The Gypsy king traveled in a gilded coach tackled with 12 horses. And when he walked he was accompanied by a richly dressed suite and Gypsies passing by took their caps off and respectfully waited in a bow until he passed by. The elder differed from other Gypsies in that he wore a zhupan with a backfolding red hood and over the zhupan he carried dzhuplo i.e. a whip or a lash with a silver handle; in addition to that he had a high fur hat of red cloth with various marks embroidered with golden threadi.

Gypsies living in Mir belonged to Orthodox Christians and spoke their mother tongue to each other. After they became domiciled Gypsies changed their costumes for clothes of middle class citizens or peasants but that wasn't true about costumes of Gypsy women who wore their linen togas. A widespread occupation of Gypsies living in Mir in the 19th century was treatment of horses, horse breeding and exchange of horses. "Gypsies could turn a curved old, toothless invalid horse into a stately fiery and frisky runner. Impaction of pins to horseback, a burning sponge under the tail and lifting skin of animals by means of making holes in it were usual measures used by Gypsies for deceiving bidders". Gypsies were also engaged in bear breeding, turner's business, shoe-making, weaving. "Their plates, bowls, spoons, bolters and sieves made of linden and oak are well-known for their beautiful finishing. Cloths of Mir weavers were famous for their strength and cleanness of finishing. In some houses of Mir rare remains of old cloths have been preserved produced at old factories of Mir”ii.

Vladislav Syrkomlia (Ludvik Kondratovich) in his memoir essays described some peculiarities of Jews living in Mir. "Usually Jews were the most active and the most noisy members of local inhabitants; they also caught people's eyes more often than the others"iii. Describing the shop trading in Mir V. Syrokomlia marked that local shops were filled with high-quality cotton and silk products as well as with linen, fur coats and various trifles: "In this relation Mir was broadly known. If people told about a young miss who was going to marry: "She has already started for Mir" it meant that she started to prepare her dowry. The sense of this phrase was quite common even in quite remote areas"iv.

"Jews has a custom to surround all newcomers in a crowd and to praise their peddlery items. Each quite a descent cart attract a real crowd of garrulous and quarrelsome Jews. Some significant warehouses with goods are situated not in shops but in houses of rich Jews but their emissaries also walk the streets attracting all newcomers. And they offer all possible items to these newcomers in order to cry down goods of their competitors. Newcomers may make fun of that or to be angry about that depending on their mood.

V. Syrokomlia wrote about Tatars living in Mir as follows: "Tatars deal in leather tanning, market gardening and furman's business. These are hard trading and sober people. Sometimes people of the Asian type can be met. But in many faces especially those of women influence of the northern sun can be felt: it wiped off their generic traces and made them closer to people of the local type”v.

Alexander Yelskiy marked that Mir was known as a center of horse-stealing. He named this settlement a "nest" of well-organized thieves of horses. In Mir St. Nickolas Cathedral Church there was an icon of St. Anthony, the guardian of lost items and it was hung with silver gifts in form of horses: "The reason of these peculiar gifts was quite natural as far as Mir district has always been famous for its really beautiful herds of horses and of course by thefts of these horses performed by local Gypsies"vi.

Really interesting ethnographic materials are presented in memories of up-to-date citizens of Mir. Jewish shops and peculiarities of their marketing were without doubt one of the most colorful features of the settlement during the interwar period. Citizens of Mir recollect about this as follows: "They are "grzeczny" (Polish for "polite") and invite you to their shops. They address everybody: "Come here, Sir. Come here, Sir". They called everybody as "Sir". If you come to them but you don't have enough money he will sell on credit to you; he will take your hand and will drive you to his shop: "What do you need?" And he will write down all your debts. But if you don't pay back then all Jews will learn about that. And Jews were honest people. They are kind people. They lent money without percentage to those whom they knew. If their goods were not bought in the morning they sold these goods cheaper in the evening"vii.

Some occupations in settlement were presented predominantly by Jews (for example physicians, pharmacists, medical assistants, hairdressers, transport workers (for example in Mir Jews owned buses and animal-drawn transport)). But at the same time citizens of Mir mark that: "our people learned from Jews how to make carts and wheels"viii.

Under influence of a complex of factors ethnic binding to definite types of economic activities was gradually becoming weaker. Sometimes conflicts arose on the economic ground between representatives of Jewish and "Christian" sectors of entrepreneurship. Memories of Mir citizens: "In 1938-1939 Poles started to oppress Jews and disbanded their shops. A pro-fascist organization "Mloda Polska" was active during that period. Its activities were aimed against. They spread such slogans as "Don't buy from Jews". But Jews didn't pay attention to that. That was during 1935-1938. Poles were afraid of Jewish competition. They bought barrels of herring for resale. But Jews sold cheaper than Poles and had more chance to sell the entire barrel"ix.

Cross marriages were the result of interethnic contacts in settlements and the indicator of destruction of the traditional society. Informant women from Mir confessed: "I didn't make friends with Jewish guys myself. It was considered indecent"; "It was indecent to go out with Jews - a real shame for a girl"; "If my children were going to merry a representative of another nation I wouldn't be against. And if they were going to marry a Jew… I don't know... I need to think it over". A Byelorussian woman Nina Yakovlevna (born in 1920) recollects that a Jewish youth and a Tatar youth were in love with her. But she didn't want to merry them. But cross marriages were presented in Mir: "There was a Jewish family Trubilki, their great grandmother had married an Orthodox. Jews didn't like that but gradually got accustomed to that. Luba Voronovich also married an Orthodox. Children born in the result of cross marriages were considered Byelorussians. They went to churches for praying. Such children were treated well"x.

Jews' style of life was the most "alien" for informants from Mir (Byelorussians, Poles and Tatars). Stories told by citizens of Mir testify that there were two separate Mirs which were quite isolated and detached. And in addition to that Byelorussians perceived Jews as "aliens". This is also confirmed by the fact that if informants showed group photos as a rule they knew names of Byelorussians and Poles but couldn't always recollect names of Jews.

And of course there were separate misunderstandings and conflicts. For example we'll present several citations taken from memories of local inhabitants:

"A Jewish shoe-maker came to us. I had a younger sister and she said the following words walking around the house: "As you say "Yid" he will live long, as you say "Jew" he'll kick the bucket soon". The Jew took offense and ran to our parents to the field but they said that my sister was just a little child and didn't understand anything..."

"Jews were teased: "Yid lousy", "Yid stinking". As a rule we said: "a kike snout you are". We considered ourselves not worse than Jews. And Jews called Byelorussians "Uh lout you are".

"We lived with Jews in one house. Flats were leased by a Tatar. There wasn't any enmity or malice. Everybody was engaged in his or her business. The Jew wasn't friendly to us and didn't let his children to us".

"Poles and Tatars were not made fun of. Only Jews were laughed at". "Jews took snacks to school every day and other children put fat to their snacks as far as Jews were prohibited to eat fat".

Yeshiva students were especially made fun of (Mir citizens called them "malamants"). Informants recollect: "If local residents threw a stone in order to provoke them for fight they didn't respond. Relations were good". "Jews never attacked us first. They might just respond being provoked with something (a stone, a fist or a shelf)". "Our guys tried to beat malamants. They didn't show hackles. But once, not far from the post office they bated our guys but never tried to do that anymore". "Malamants wore high hats. We knocked these hats out with a help of small stones. If they bathed in the river we moistened their clothes and tied them into bundles. And when they got out of water we threw sand.

Local Jews often suffered from tricks of prince's nephew Bazyl (Vasiliy). One of participants of these "entertainments" recollects: "On Saturdays after work Bazyl gathered everybody who was stronger and we "little whistles" went with them. Here alder thickets grow near the lake and there are a lot of rook nests on the trees. We climbed the trees, took rook eggs (and some of us took even stones to their pockets). And here we were sitting at the fence in order Jews couldn't notice us. And when a larger group was ready Basyl whistled and we threw eggs and stones at Jews! Oh my God! (...) And that was really funny! The period of Poland was really cheerful! It was really cheerful!"xi.

Fears and prejudices concerning the so called "blood libel" appeared to be really firm. Citizens of Mir recollect: "Children were frightened with Jews who as if could catch them, put to the bowl with nails and roll them in this bowl. They needed that for preparing matzo with children's blood". "Parents convinced us at for their holidays Jews caught Orthodox and Catholic children, took blood from their fingers and added this blood to dough of matzo"xii. But old timers of Mir recollect that Jews often entertained non-Jews with matzo.

Among Jewish holidays the most remembered are Sabbath (Saturday), Easter (Pesach), Jewish feast of Tabernacles (Succoth). Mikvah (a ritual bath) was organized in the town bathhouse in a separate basin. One of informants described Jewish funeral tradition.

According to memories of Nadezhda Fedorovna Atetskaya (born in 1923) some peculiarities of Jewish culinary traditions could be defined in Mir. In particular of all mushrooms Jews ate only chanterelles as far as there were no worms in them.

Citizens of Mir cannot tell a lot about students of the well-known Yeshiva as well as direct contacts with them were minimal. Students from all over the globe were coming there. "They were distinct in their clothes and hats were smart. They were so civilized. Children asked them for post stamps and they gave these stamps. Jewish students wore black cloaks and caps with white ribbons. They were always praying". "Malamants were big and high. Each Saturday they went to Priluki in a single slender chain wearing black clothes with neckties and caps. They went to have rest with books. I was very much afraid of these Jews because they wore long black clothes and black skullcaps. At the collar they had white shirtfronts"xiii.

There are a lot of letters and memories of former "Yeshibotniks" who came to Mir for several years from Europe and America for learning. These descriptions of the settlement life are a view "from outside". That is a view of people representatives of another civilization. Foreign Jews often spoke ironically about backwardness of Mir. Recollecting Mir rabbi Yudakh Broyde marked: "If a caw walked along a pavement and a human went to meet this caw then the human went away from the pavement in order to let the caw pass. Caws in Mir had no respect to people"xiv. But despite all the irony concerning the appearance of the town and local inhabitants it is evident that all Yeshibotniks recollect Mir with great love. Rukhoma Shein wries: "It is a great pleasure to live in a town of five streets where you meet friends at every step. It is more important than to have a phone or a water supply system at home. It is the most important in the world"xv. In R. Shein's memories about Mir there are several interesting observations which can be defined as criteria of the settlement. "People here are never hurrying anywhere. They are very curious. There are few news but all news are spread very quickly - even more quicly than a telegraph message and they sound more loudly than information broadcasted on the radio"; "Neighbors not only exchange gossips but also render help to each other"; "Leaving home they didn't close doors: nobody could have an idea to take things belonging to somebody else"xvi.

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Mir Castle-park complex – a monument of architecture of the 16th – beginning of the 20th century.

Plan of the castle was presented as a twisted quadrangle resembling a square which was formed by fortress walls approximately 75 meters long. In corners for towers are situated protruding over the walls. The fifth tower is the main one. It is equipped with an entry arch and is situated in the middle of the western wall. It stands with its front towards the settlement. First walls of the castle were up to 13 meters with thickness of about 3 meters in the base. Masonry included three layers: external part of walls is made of bricks with inclusion of boulder stone and the inner part of stones presenting their main massive is presented as filling of small stones and crushed bricks. The height of combined blockwork is about 1.5 meters; in the main tower it is up to 7 meters. Upper parts of tower walls as well as other walls, cylindrical vaulting and floors of the palace are performed of brick.

Construction of the palace-castle complex was performed not all at once. And it can be easily seen from architectural patterns of its various parts. First in the 16th century fortress walls and towers were built. Later, during the period of Radzivill Sirotka in the beginning of the 17th century a three-storied palace was built along the eastern wall and the northern wall. The new construction brought changes to appearance of walls the palace was adjoined to. They lost their loopholes, large window apertures were made and the upper part was erected for the second time. Large windows were made in the added part of the north-western tower. During the same period one-storied household outbuildings and a stable were built along the south and western walls.

25 meter high towers are a sight of interest in the palace. They stand above the walls and in the past they had a peculiar Gothic decor in form of niches and ornamental belts. That technique of performing facades was widespread in Byelorussian architecture of the 15th - the 16th centuries. Limewashed niches and belts present a successful contrast to brick walls and that increases artistic expressiveness of the castle. Up to date only the main tower, the entrance tower and the south western tower has preserved peculiar features of the Gothic style. Other towers as well as the palace itself obtained forms and decor natural for the renaissance period: they are faced with pick-dressed ashlar.

From the end of the 19th century landscape of castle surroundings changed significantly. A park and a pond were organized here. In 1904 a sanctuary was built in the park. This complex is a unique construction of the Byelorussian architecture reflecting styles of Gothic and the Renaissance and combining traces of defensive and palace architecture. From 1991 to 2010 restoration works were performed. "Mir Castle" museum is situated in the castle. It is a branch of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

In 2000 the Mir castle was included to the list of UNESCO cultural and natural world heritage.

St. Nickolas RC church, the end of the 16th - beginning of the 17 th century – a monument of the Renaissance architecture of republican importance. It is presented as a three-nave, thee-tower basilica. After construction of the RC Church in 1710 a stone altar was constructed in baroque style. A burial vault chapel is situated under the building of the RC Church.

The Holy Trinity Church – a monument of architecture of the 16th - the 19th centuries of the republican importance. It was erected during a period of 1533 – 1550 as a temple of the Basilian Monastery. After the fire of 1865 the church was rebuilt in the retrospective Russian style. It is presented as a stone five-domed temple of an elongated axial composition. During the 1870-s three-storied bell-tower was added to the building.

Sviatopolk-Mirskiys' Burial Vault Chapel – a monument of architecture of art-nouveau style of the beginning of the 20th century. After death of N.I. Sviatopolk Mirskiy his widow Cleopatra Mikhailovna ordered a project of a burial vault chapel to the architect academician R.R. Marfeld. It was built during 1904 - 1910. There is a mosaic icon "Sps Vsederzhytel" and a cartouche with the emblem of Sviatopolk-Mirskiys. The colorful solution of this construction: red bricks, gray stones, concrete, colorful mosaic panel which stand in perfect harmony with the old-time castle, greenery of the park and the pond. And this composition presents a stronger picturesqueness to this corner of the architectural ensemble.

Objects of Jewish architecture of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. – synagogues, a yeshiva, a heder, a boarding house at the heder, a pharmacy shop, an administration building of the former qahal and the bank.

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Memorial places of Mir include cemeteries. There are four cemeteries in the settlement (according to the number of confessions of population: Orthodox, Catholic, Tatar and Jewish).

The Jewish cemetery is situated in the north-eastern part of the settlement in Pionerskaya street. The cemetery is fenced and can be entered through an open wicket. After the German occupation of 1941 many headstones were stolen and used for purposes of construction. Several hundreds of headstones have been preserved.

A thin path to the left from the entrance lead to the grave of Jeruchama hа-Lewi Lejbowicza, a son of Avraam called Maszgiachem, a spiritual leader and teacher of the local yeshiva, the author of such holy books as религиозных книг "Sefer Da'at Chochma U'Mussar" i "Sefer Da'at Tora" who died on the 8th of July 1936. During the recent years his grave was renewed and now it is the place of pilgrimage of Jews from all over the world.

Places of memory related with the Second World War include the common grave of Soviet warriors and partisans, several graves of Holocaust victims.

Information taken from book "Monuments of Genocide of Jews in Belarus"xvii:

a grave of ghetto prisoners: str. Tankistov, not far from the building of Technical School No 234, in November 1941 Hitlerites and policemen shot dead 1700 Jews, in 1966 an obelisk was set up on the grave;

the grave of ghetto prisoners: str. Oktabrskaya, between houses 12 and 14. In November 1941 Hitlerites and policemen shot dead 700 Jews, in 1967 an obelisk was set up on the grave;

a grave of ghetto prisoners: 1 km to the south-east from the urban-type settlement Mir in Yablonovshchina district; in June 1942 Hitlerites and policemen shot dead 750 Jews being the last prisoners of Mir ghetto, in 1966 an obelisk was set up on the grave;

a common grave of Jews: 1 km to the south-west from the urban-type settlement Mir on the road to Moshechki district; in 1941 7 persons were shot dead here (including 5 Jews).

In addition to that shootings were performed in suburbs of village Simakovo (on the 20th of July 1941 Nazis gathered approximately 190 persons on the main square of Mir; 19 Jews (mainly from rich families) and 3 Christians were selected. They were told that they would be sent for works and were ordered to take spades. All of them were shot dead in suburbs of Simakovo). Places of execution of Jews during the Second World War included the Jewish and the Tatar cemeteries in Mir.

MONUMENTS OF NATURE AND GARDEN ARTDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

The landscape park with a pond – a monument of nature and garden art.

The Italian landscape park. The first mention of a park in Mir is presented in the inventory list of 1660. According to data presented in the inventory list of 1654 Cossacks troops of Yan Zolotarenko and Moscow voivode Alexey Trubetskoy occupied Mir. They plundered the castle, burnt the farm and the Italian garden. The devastated "Italian" garden is mentioned in the next in succession inventory list dated 1688. 

It is reputed that revival of the park was carried out presumably simultaneously with restoration of the destroyed castle and was related with the name of Yekaterina Radzivill of Sobeskiys (1634–1694), the widow of Prince Mikhail I Casimir (1625–1680). In 1706 troops of Charles XII destroyed the castle even stronger. Restoration works were started in 1719. The Italian garden is mentioned in the Inventory list of 1720.

Mir Park of the Renaissance period wasn't large. It was situated in front of the castle behind its northern bank. The Renaissance Park transformed into a Baroque park is known according to the inventory list of 1746. It had a clear geometrical pattern (it consisted of 25 squares. Alleys differed in composition of plants and probably in width. In 1805 the area of the garden was 6 morgs 150 pruts (4.62 hectares). Streets alleys of the park are decorated with lines of linden. Eleven lindens have been preserved; as well as a small fragment of a former line or the so called protecting planting on the eastern edge of the former park. Diameter of trunk of the biggest linden is 115 cm. In 1830 area of the "espalier garden" decreased down to 4 morgs 91 pruts. The park was separated from the castle with a road going to Stolbtsy and so in fact it was doomed to gradual extinction. The castle itself was in a dilapidated state. 

The new estate and park ensemble related with activities of princes Sviatopolk-Mirskiys at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries didn't exist long. In 1917 the house with art and family values was burnt. 

The last stage of transformations is related with name of the new owner - Prince Mikhail who came back from Warsaw in 1921. The house of his father was in ruins. He settled in a farm outbuilding and knowing the historical value of the castle he started its restoration despite the coming hardships. The castle became the main dominant of the new ensemble. In accordance with the castle a new landscape park was organized; father's composition was partially destroyed (the fir alley was removed). A pond was included to the new composition. 

The park was organized at the place of a field between the farm and the castle. In 1934 its area was increased by means of transposition of the road which had been laid approximately one hundred years ago. It was created in the spirit of landscape naturalistic parks belonging to the period of eclecticism. Separate lindens of the alley have been preserved. Despite significant losses and changes there is a favorable basis (the place of location has been preserved as well as fragments of compositions, high ornamentality of the forest, intensity of distant perspectives and a water system) for restoration of old parks; and that will give an opportunity to recreate greatness of the former ensemble, to reflect the history of Byelorussian garden art development starting from its very beginning.  

The English landscape park.

Planning and formation of the English landscape park belongs to the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries. The idea of its creation belonged to princes Sviatopolk Mirskiys who owned these lands from 1891. The compositional center of the park was presented as a two-storied Prince's palace (it was burnt in 1914). The palace was built to the east from the castle and was placed on the same axis with it. The palace and the castle were architectural dominants alongside with a family burial vault church of princes Sviatopolk-Mirskiys built in 1910. A lake with an island in it was one of the most important structural elements of the park. At the end of the 19th century an apple garden was organized at the place of this Mir Lake. Prince Nickolay Sviatopolk-Mirskiy gave an order to cut this apple garden down and to dig a lake at that place (a legend is related with this lake; this legend is presented below).

The park of an irregular type is presented as an alternation of shadowy and sunny clearings, bunch plantings of trees and meandering paths. About 70 kinds and hybrids of plants were used for forming the park. Many of these plants were destroyed by frost in winter 1939-1940, cut down during years of the Great Patriotic War or died during the postwar period. Up to date only few separate samples and several group plantings have been preserved. Restoration of vegetative components of the park is performed simultaneously with restoration of the castle. The following vegetation items were planted: Korean silver fir, weymouth pine, black pine, Siberian spruce, Norway maple, various kinds of juniper, thuja, lilac tree and hawthorn. 

MOVABLE MONUMENTS OF HISTORY AND CULTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Movable monuments of Mir history and culture are kept in museums of the settlement.

There is a museum in the Mir castle. It is a branch of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Up to date 39 full-blown expositions have been organized there. One of these expositions is devoted to Jews of Mir and the history of Holocaust.

Numerous historical and cultural values are presented in Victor Sakel's private museum situated in the building of a former inn. One room is completely devoted to the history of Mir Jews (there are collections of Jewish religious items, books and magazines published in Hebrew and Yiddish, musical instruments, household items).

INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGEDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Each castle has got its legends, and the Mir castle isn't an exception.





Mir – the birth place of some well-known personalities

Florian Bokhvits (1799 – 1856) – a Byelorussian philosopher-moralist, a writer, A.Mickiewicz's, brother-in-law. He was born in Mir and obtained his education in Nesvizh; then he studied at the faculty of law in Kiev. After graduation he worked as a solicitor in Novogrudok. After he got married he became engaged in the agriculture. In 1838 his first literary work was published ("Form of my Thinking"); then in 1838-1941 "Essence of my Thinking..." was published. (parts 1 and 2); in 1842 "Basis of my Thoughts and Feelngs" was published and in 1847 "Thoughts about Human Upbringing" saw the world. Bokhvits specialized in moral and pedagogic problems. He stood for priority of religion in all human thoughts and deeds. And that can be viewed as a reaction against ideas of free thinking and asceticism widespread during the period of enlightenment. In the sphere of philosophy and pedagogic he proposed a program of harmonization of religious, moral and humanitarian education consisting in some general pedagogic ideas. 

Actors brothers Ilyinskiys – Alexander and Nickolay. Alexander Ilyinskiy (1903 – 1967) is more well-known; he was a national artist of the Byelorussian SSR (1938) and a national artist of the USSR (1953). He was born in Mir. He started his scenic activity in Minsk in 1919. During 1921 – 1926 he studied at the Byelorussian theater school. From 1926 he was an actor of the Second Byelorussian State Dramatic Theater in Vitebsk. Alexander Ilyinskiy had a significant scenic charm and expressive mimic. As an actor-improvisator he used the entire richness of his creative imagination as well as various expressive means.

Yanka Zaprudnik (born in 1926) – a Byelorussian and American historian and publicist, one of the most active figueres of the Byelorussian diaspora in the USA, an honorable member of the Byelorussian PAN-center. His main works include: «Беларусь на гістарычных скрыжаваннях» (Belarus: At a Crossroads in History) (1993); «Гістарычны слоўнік Беларусі» (Historical Dictionary of Belarus) (1998 год); “Дванаццатка. Дакумэнтальная аповесьць пра беларускіх хлапцоў у Нямеччыне, Вялікабрытаніі й Бэльгіі (1946—1954 гг.) / Янка Запруднік. Нью-Ёрк: Беларускі інстытут навукі й мастацтва, 2002; “Палітычнае змаганне за Беларусі ў царскіх Дзяржаўных думах (1906 – 1917)” // ARCHE. 2009. № 1/2. С.43-217.

Olga Ipatova (born in 1945 г.) – a Byelorussian writer, translator and public person.

Works by Olga Ipatova have been translated into Russian, English, German, Uzbek, Bulgarian, Polish, Slovak and Czech as well as into the Hindi language. In addition to that Olga Ipatova is the author of critical articles and publicist stories; she translates works of Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Uzbek and Armenian writers into the Byelorussian language. She was awarded with the "Honor Badge" and Francis Skprina's medal; she is also a laureate of Boris Kit award (2003), "Golden Apostrophe" (2006, for her story "The Last Victim of the Sacred Oak"), Nickolay Ganko award (2009 "For Great Educational Work and Propaganda of Spiritual Achievements of Byelorussian Emigrants in Canada") etc. She is an honorable academician of the International Academy of Sciences "Eurasia".

Thanks to the fact that in the 18th century Mir became an important spiritual center of Polish, Byelorussian and Lithuanian Jewry. Names of its rabbis and Torah scientists became well-known all over the world. Famous rabbis lived and worked in Mir: М. Eisenstadt (aproximately 1670–1744), Sh.Z. Mirkish (Mirkes), I.D. Eisenstadt (1776–1826), Avrom Zvi-Girsh Eisenstadt (1813–1868), E.D. Teomim Rabinovich (from 1893 he was rabbi of Mir), A. Tiktinskiy. The Mir Yeshiva from 1907 headed by Rabbi Eliezer Iyekhuda Finkel (1879–1965) attracted students from various countries of Europe and America. Spiritual leaders of the Mir Yeshiva before the Second World War were: a prominent figure of Musar movement (learning of morality) rabbi Yerukham Levovits (1874–1936) and one if well-known Musar representatives rabbi Yekhezkel Levenstein (1884–1974).

Mir is the native land of many prominent scientists, politicians, state and public personalities, cultural and religious figures


Solomon Maymon (1753–1800)

He was a world famous philosopher enlightener of the second half of the 18th century. Solomon (Shlomo) Maymon was born approximately in 1753 in the Sukovyborg farmstead not far from Mir, Korelichi district. His real surname was Heiman and surname Maymon he took in favor of a well-known Jewish philosopher of the 12th century. S. Maymon was a talented philosopher enlightener; he was one of the first commentators and critics of Immanuil Kant. Maymon finished school in Mir and then learned at the Talmud school in Ivenets settlement (now in Volozhyn district). After he married at the age of 11 and became a father at the age of 14 Maymon maintained his family by means of giving private lessons in neighboring towns and settlements. During his free time he learned Jewish philosophy and cabbala. In the result of an attempt to prove that cabbala is based on philosophy he was accused in heresy by Hasidic circles he was close to during that period of time. Then Maymon turned to learning Soviet sciences. In 1778 he left home and went to the Western Europe. In 1786, after continuous traveling and attempts to change for Christianity Maymon came back to Berlin where he studied Kant's philosophy. Under influence of this philosopher Maymon wrote his first book "Experience of Transcendental Philosophy" (1790). Manuscript of this book was given to Kant who wrote in his letter that even after a surface acquaintance with the work its value is evident to him. He marked that his philosophy was never understood so profoundly by any other critics. Kant's opinion defined the further fate of Maymon - his philosophy books and articles as well as works on mathematical physics and algebra were taken for publication. S.Maymon's works were highly appraised by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, A. Humboldt and other thinkers and scientists of Germany and other European countries.

In scientific literature sources Maymon is defined as a German, Jewish or Polish thinker although it is known that a significant part of his life he spent in Belarus where his world view was formed and where he started his teaching and literary activity. Maymon studied life and household activities of ordinary people living in Belarus and Lithuania. In 1793 an autobiography of Solomon Maymon was published in Berlin ("Shlomo Maymon's Story of Life") it was written by himself (Russian translation: "Jewish Library". Vol. 1–2. SPb, 1871–1872) – this book became widespread and presented an important source for learning history of Byelorussian Jewry and early Hasidism, life and household activities of population of Belarus in the second half of the 18th century as well as social, economic and spiritual problems of these people..

Nickolay Bakst (1842 (1843)–1904)

Mir settlement was the native land of the well-known philology scientist, writer and public figure Nikolay Ignatyevich (Noakh Issaakovich) Bakst. Here in 1842 (1843) his walk of life started. Bakst finished rabbinical school in Zhytomir and in 1862 he graduated from the St. Petersburg University. He mastered his educational level in Germany taught by well-known scientist Helmholz. N. Bakst’s main scientific works are devoted to the general physiology and neurology. In 1867 jointly with G. Hemholz he was the first who measured the rate of excitation in human motor nerves. Bakst proposed a simple method for cardiac contractions registration. He studied processes of photostimulation of eye retina. During 1883–1888 Bakst was an expert of the governmental committee created for reviewing laws about Jews. He was the author of numerous articles about position of Jews in Russia published in Russian and Jewish magazines. The main works created by Nickolay Ignatyevich included the following books: "About Meaning of Physiology during Learning Medicine (1881), "course of Physiology. Lectures Read in the St. Petersburg University" Ed.1. (1886).

Mikhl-Izkhok Rabinovich (1879–1948) – a folklorist, historian, writer, journalist, editor. He was born in Mir in 1879. He obtained religious education. He passed the exam for obtaining rabbi level. At the age of 18 he joined Zionist movement. From 1890 his articles and satirical articles about the Jewish history and folklore were published in many Jewish newspapers and magazines of St. Petersburg and Warsaw.

After marriage with Sara, daughter of Meyer Galperin from Minsk (who owned a publishing house) he moved to this city and started to sell books. He took an active part in Zionist movement in Belarus. He was a member of Jewish Organization Presidium and the secretary of Minsk Jewish community. In 1925 he migrated to Erez-Israel and was engaged in selling books in Jerusalem. Collecting folklore he created a big collection of folk's proverbs, sayings, anecdotes, Hebraistic elements in the Yiddish language. Literary heritage of Mikhl-Izkhok Rabinovich includes a number of unpublished works including work "Jewish Print Shops in Belarus".


Zalman Shazar (1889–1974) – a scientist, writer, publicist, Zionist movement figure, the third president of the State of Israel. He wrote his social a political works as well as fiction and poetry in Hebrew and Yiddish. Shneur Zalman Shazar (his real surname is Rubashov) was born in Mir in 1889 in a religious family of ardent supporters of Zionism. Shazar was named after the founder of Habad movement. In 1892 his family moved to Stolbtsy where he learned in heder. Shazar helped to organize Jewish groups of self-defense during revolution of 1905 and took an active part in activity of Marxist and Zionist movement Poaley Zion. Zalman Shazar studied at the higher courses of oriental studies in St. Petersburg. From 1912 he continued his education in Germany at Freiburg, Strassburg and Berlin universities. In 1919 at the congress of Poaley Zion party in Stockholm he was elected to the committee on learning economic situation of Palestine and creating a plan of economic development of this country on the cooperative basis. During the period 1922 -1924 Shazar read lectures in Jewish history at Jewish teacher's seminary in Vienna.

In 1924 Shazar moved to Palestine and became an active journalist and political figure. He was a member of Jewish Agency Delegation taking part in the session of the United Nations General Assembly in November 1947 when this international organization voted in favor of creating the Jewish state on the part of the territory of Palestine. In 1949 Shazar was elected to the Knesset of the 1st convocation and then he was a member of the Knesset of the 2nd convocation (1951) and the 3rd convocation. From 1949 and up to 1951 he served as Minister of Education and Culture of Israel. It was his initiative that in 1949 the law about obligatory school education was adopted in this country.

From 1952 Shazar was a member of the Executive committee and the head of the Information Department of the World Zionist Organization; and from 1954 he was the head of departments of Diaspora education and culture at the Jewish Agency. From 1956 up to 1960 he was the head of the Jerusalem Executive Committee of the World Zionist Organization. From 1963 up to 1973 (two terms) Zalman Shazar was the president of the State of Israel. He left a rich literary heritage including a collection of autobiographic essays "Pre-dawn Stars", a collection of memoir essays about leaders of the Zionist movement and the Jewish culture activists "Great Personalities" (1963), poetic works, social and political works and scientific researches.

Heinrich Borisovich Sliosberg (1863– 1937)

He was a well-known lawyer and Jewish political figure. He was born in 1863 in Mir settlement in a Hasidic family. Soon after his birth the family moved to Poltava where his father worked as a melamed (a teacher in heder). In his boyhood years Heinrich obtained traditional Jewish education and then learned at Poltava gymnasium. In 1885 during his study at the St. Petersburg University Sliosberg's student work was marked with a golden medal and in 1886 he graduated from the law faculty of this university. During 1886-1888 Heinrich Sliosberg continued his legal education at universities in Heidelberg, Leipzig, Lyons and in 1889 he successfully passed an exam at the St.Petersberg University and obtained Master's degree in Criminal law. In 1893 he was accepted to the estate of commissioners for oath. In 1889 Sliosberg became Baron G. Hinzburg's legal adviser on Jewish affairs. From that period he headed legal protection of Jewish interests in the Senate and various ministries. During the First World War Sliosberg was one of heads of the EKOPO (Jewish Committee to Help War Victims) and in fact he guided work on rendering help to migrants and refugees. Soon after the October revolution of 1917 being a person of right wing he was taken to prison for a long period.

In 1920 Sliosberg had to leave Russia and to get settled in France where he was at the head of the Russian Jews community (in Paris). In 1934 he was a witness during the process concerning "Protocols of Zionist Wise Men" in Bern. In 1933 G.B. Sliosberg published the following books; "Pre-revolutionary System of the Old Russia" (devoted to the "Sorrowful memory of Russian sons killed and tortured to death by Bolsheviks"), "Baron G. O. Ginzburg. His Life and Activity", "Spinoza's Revenge for Herem". Heinrich Borisovich considered memoirs "Affairs of Bygone Days. Commentaries of a Russian Jew" (volumes 1-3, 1933-1934) to be the main book of his life. It is an important historical document about everyday life, fates and history of two generation of Russian Jewry preceding the revolution. Sliosberg died in 1937.

Chaim Khisin (1865–1932)

He was one of the first settlers in Erez Israel (the Jewish part of Palestine). Zionist and public activist Chaim (Yefim) Khisin was born in Mir in 1865. In the result of Jewish pogroms in 1865 he became a member of Bylu organization (organization of Jewish youths. the name of this organization is composed of the first letters of the bible verse "Bet Y'akov Lehu Ve-nelha") ("Jacob's House! Stand up and Let’s Go!”). This verse was used as a slogan for resettlement to Erez Israel). In July 1882 together with a group of biluyets Khisin arrived to Erez-Israel. In 1887 Khisin came back to Russia and began studying pharmacology.

In 1898 he left for Switzerland and entered medical faculty of Bern University. He took part in Zionist congresses, was a member of the Democratic fraction. In 1905 Khisin came back to Erez-Israel being a father of five children already. He worked as a physician and opened a clinic in Tel-Aviv. There he was appointed the representative of Odessa committee in Jaffa. Khisin was one of founders of Jaffa Akhuzat-Bait suburbs which later became Tel-Aviv.

Yet in the middle of the 1880-s Khisin started collaboration with Russian-Jewish press. In 1889 he published his Diary notes "From Diary of a Palestine Emigrant" in "Voskhod" (No1–12) (translation into Hebrew appeared in 1925; reprint of "Baluyets' Diary" 1973).  He was one of initiators of the Hebrew language revival; he was also the author of a prculiar article "About Resurrection of the Old Jewish Language" (1897).

 Natan Gardi (1900 – 1980)

Mir Settlement is a native land of Natan Gardi (Gorodzeyskiy) who was a political figure and a public activist. Gardi learned in yeshivas of Slonim and Mir. In 1920 Natan became the only religious settler in agricultural colonies of the Crimea. From 1921 Gardi lived in Palestine and was a member of the religious Zionist working movement. In 1948 after creation of Israel Defense Forces he was appointed the head of Department on Matters of Religion. Later this department was transformed into a military rabbinate.


Naftali Tsevi Yehudah Berlin (1817 – 1893)

This person is known under acronym Netsiv (the first letters of his name). He was born in Mir in 1817. Berlin was one of the leading and famous rabbis of his generation. In 1854 he became the head of the world-known yeshiva in Volozhin. He turned it into the spiritual center of Jewry of the entire Russia. Berlin was the author of well-respected works of traditionally religious nature. These works also included comments to the Bible. Berlin was one of the leading halakhic authority of his time. In 1892 Volozhin yeshiva was closed by the Authorities and Berlin and his family were deported. 18 month later he died in Warsaw. Naftali Tsevi Yehudah's son (Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin)) became one of the leaders of the religious Zionism. One of the most prestigious universities of Israel bears his name.

Isser Zalman Meltzer (1870 – 1953)

A well-known rabbi I.Z. Meltzer was born in Mir in 1870. In 1894 he founded a yeshiva in Slutsk and in 1903 he became the head of this yeshiva. In 1904 he became the rabbi of this town. In 1917 the yeshiva moved to Kletsk. From 1924 Meltser lived in Erez-Israel. He was at the head of the well-known yeshiva "Etz-Chaim" in Jerusalem Meltzer took an active part in creating a system of the Orthodox religious education. He was at the head of Eretz Israel yeshivas union and was the chairman of "Torah Experts Committee" Agudat Israel. I. Z. Meltzer is the author of comments to Maimonides' works. A well-known talmudist and lalakic authority Joseph Eliyagu Khenkin was one of Meltzer's students.

Chaim Yehuda Leib Tiktinskiy (1833 – 1899)

C. -Y.L. Tiktinskiy was born in Mir. Here in 1833 his walk of life started in the family of a rabbi. At the age of 17 (1850) he was a teacher at the world-known Mir yeshiva. And in 1867 he became the head of this yeshiva.

Abraham Jacob Hershon Lesser

This person was born in Mir in 1834. He obtained traditional Jewish religious education. Lesser learnt at yeshivas of Mir, Minsk and Pinsk. During 1855–1882 he was the rabbi in various settlements of the district. From 1882 Lesser lived in the USA. During 1882–1900 he was a rabbi in Chicago, from 1900 he was a rabbi in Cincinnati. In 1903 Lesser was the first president of the Union of Rabbis of the USA and Canada. He is the author of several books on matters of the Jewish legislation.


Fate of this the most interesting personality is related with Mir settlement. He was a Jew who became a catholic priest and a monk- Carmelite and saved about two hundreds prisoners of Mir ghetto.

Shmuel (Samuel, Samuil) Aaron (Oswald Rufeisen), his monk name was brother Daniel (1922, Żywiec, Poland – 1998, Haifa).

In 1939 when Germans occupied western Poland and the USSR occupied eastern Poland the pro-Zionist family of Rufeisens (the father, the mother and two sons Oswald 17 years old and Arye, 15 years old) escaped to Lvov which hadn't been yet occupied. But 50-year old parents didn't stand horrible hardships of the journey and came back home. Later they were killed in Oświęcim. Soon the sons moved to not yet occupied Lithuania (to Vilno). The younger brother (Arye) managed to obtain a free of charge certificate and a visa to Japan with the transit through the entire Union to Vladivostok. From there (through Japan) he got to Palestine. The elder brother Oswald got a refusal: those certificates were given only to children and adolescents younger than 17 years of age. Oswald knew Yiddish and German: these both languages were spoken in their family. Oswald got to Vilno to family of a Jewish shoe-maker and helped him in his work. There he learned the Lithuanian language. Then Oswald moved to the Byelorussian settlement Turets. Being good at languages he easily learned the Byelorussian language. He developed the friendliest relations with Byelorussians. Then he settled in another Byelorussian settlement (Mir). The head of the Byelorussian Police of this settlement Serafimovich proposed Oswald to work as a translator in the gendarmerie. Oswald introduced himself as a son of a Pole and a German woman. As a translator Oswald took part in raids against Jews in the neighboring villages but refused to kill Jews in village Kuki when the deputy head of Police Schulz proposed him to do that. Accidentally he heard a phone talk of the Police head Reingold Hein with a Capitan Max Eibner from the gendarmerie in Baranovichi and so he learned the date of the next in succession shooting and more precisely that was the date of Mir ghetto liquidation. Oswald informed prisoners about that persuaded them to escape. He delivered weapons to the ghetto but Jews didn't believe him and one of Jews betrayed him. But 250 persons managed to escape to the forest. 500 old and invalid Jews staid in the ghetto and were killed. Oswald was arrested. He confessed that he was a Jew. But he wasn't watched too strictly and he managed to escape. After several days and nights spent in the forest he came back to Mir because there was nowhere to go. He meets a nun who brought him to the catholic nunnery of Carmelites situated in the suburbs of Mir settlement (not far from up-to-date fire-fighting department) not far from the Police commandant's office (building of this office has been preserved till up to date). It happened in August 1942. He spent in the nunnery 9 months. He was 20 years old. He continuously thought about his life and fate. He read the New Testament (there were no other books in the nunnery) and took the decision to be baptized.

After the war, in 1945 Rufeisen came back to Poland. He studied for a priest and became a monk Carmelite.

In 1962 in accordance with the Law of return brother Daniel wanted to obtain Israel citizenship but got a refusal. His appeal to the Supreme Court of Israel (case 72/62 "Oswald Rufeisen against the minister of internal affairs") was also refused. In his appeal brother Daniel tried to get recognition of his right for repatriation to Israel on the basis of the fact that he was a Jew (if not by religion than on the fact of being born from a Jewish woman). He didn't conceal that he moved to Christianity in accordance with his sincere and deep belief but he insisted on his belonging to the Jewish nation ("from the point of the nationality"). Halakha also perceived him as a Jew. But the directive of Ber-Yeguda and "procedural instructions" of Shapira didn't comply with the precise formulation of the Law of return and so they were recognized illegal. The Supreme Court recognized that Halakha considered converts to Christianity to be Jews but didn't recognize Halakha to be a part of Israel laws. The court recognized that "Procedural instructions" of Shapira were departmental instructions of the minor order and didn't comply with the legislation of Israel. The court recognized that neither of Israel laws defined the concept "Jew". The Supreme Court resolved that in view of absence of written legislative norms and in view of secular nature of the Law of return the concept "Jew" should be interpreted not strictly from the halakhic point of view but with orientation on the subjective opinion of the majority of people: according to "how this word sounds for people during the up-to-date period" (wording by judge Berenzon), "how we, Jews, understand it" (wording by Judge Zilber) or just in accordance with opinion of an ordinary Jew "from the street". So, according to the opinion of the Supreme Court: "Jew is a person whom other Jews consider to be a Jew". Judges also added that as far as neither Zionism fathers nor any of Jewish people would consider a believing Christian to be a Jew the Law of return couldn't apply to persons who were born Jews but who then voluntarily changed their religion. Of course such a person could file a request for obtaining a right to live in Israel on a par with other Jews but he/she couldn't be considered a Jew in accordance with the Law of return and he/she didn't have a right neither for automatic Israel citizenship nor rights of new repatriates. And on this ground brother Daniel request was refused. Opinion of the majority wasn't supported by Judge Chaim Koen who objected to the subjective-collective criterion (opinion of the majority) and supported the subjective-individual position (personal will of the claimant) but he was in the minority.

Oswald Rufeisen obtained the right to enter Israel but in his passport under "Nationality" there was a dash because he wasn't accepted to be a Jew and he refused Polish citizenship himself. Oswald Rufeisen was presented citizenship but he didn't obtain any support from the state.

Up to the end of his life he lived in "Stela Maris" Carmelite monastery in Heifa и and was a pastor of St. Jacob community of Christian Jews at St. Joseph Catholic temple in Heifa. He renewed Christian divine services in Hebrew. Being an excellent linguist he translated many Christian prayers into Hebrew. But that wasn't supported by Catholic authorities. In town of Nagaria he created a senior nursing home for Righteous persons of the world. In 1965 he became a guide about Israel for numerous groups of Christian tourists.

Mother Superior of the nunnery where Oswald hided (Yelizaveta Bartkoviak) in 2002 obtained the title of a Righteous person of nations of the world. If Oswald Rufeisen were not a Jew he would also be recognized a Righteous person of nations of the world, he would obtain material support and a tree would be planted in memory of him in the Alley of Righteous Persons... 

On "Yad Vashem" web-site there is description of Oswald Rufeisen's heroic deed. A documentary film was done about him ("Brother Daniel, The Last Jew").

After the war already father Daniel was only once. It was when in 1992 a meeting of ghetto prisoners (all those who were saved by Oswald Rufeisen) took place in this district. The settlement was visited by people from the USA, Israel, Germany etc. Their children and grandchildren arrived to Mir. With shaking hands they greeted the legendary person, their saver father Daniel standing in front of them in a Catholic robe.

Oswald Rufeisen's life became the basis for creating biography of the main character in the novel "Daniel Stein. Translator" by the Russian writer Ludmila Ulitskaya. The main facts of Oswald Rufeisen's biography were taken by Ulitskaya from the book by Americam writer, Doctor of Philosophy and professor of sociology Nechama Tec (In the Lion’s Den. The life of Oswald Rufeisen", 1990) who met Oswald many times.

The novel by L.Ulitskaya based on the fate of Oswald Rufeisen is now known all over the world. But you won't find a single word about Belarus in the novel. Mir was substituted with an unreal town Emsk. Nevertheless up to date numerous tourists come to the Mir castle in order to hear the story about father Daniel's unique fate.


LANDMARK ARCHITECTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

  • The Castle complex the 16th - the 18th centuries
  • St. Nickolas RC church, the end of the 16th - beginning of the 17 th century
  • The Holy Trinity Church, the 16th - the 19th centuries
  • Holy George Church
  • Sviatopolk-Mirskiys' Burial Vault Chapel, beginning of the 20th century.
  • Yeshiva, the 19th century.
  • The Main Synagogue, the end of the 19th century
  • The Merchant Synagogue, the 19th century
  • Synagogue, the 19th century
  • Synagogue (mikvah?), the 19th century
  • Heder, the 19th century
  • Boarding house at the heder, the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries.
  • A pharmacy shop, the second half of the 19th century
  • An administration building of the former qahal and the bank, beginning of the 20th century
  • Victor Sakel's private museum in building of a former inn,
  • The Jewish cemetery
  • The Catholic cemetery
  • The Orthodox cemetery
  • The Tatar cemetery
  • The landscape park with a pond – a monument of nature and garden art.

MUSEUMS — ARCHIVES — PRIVATE COLLECTIONSDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

A museum with 39 full-blown expositions has been organized in the Mir castle. One of these expositions is devoted to life and extinction of the Jewish community in Mir.

The "Mir Castle" is an object with a good developed infrastructure: there are two conference halls for carrying out events on the highest level, a hotel for 15 rooms, a restaurant with dishes of old cuisine, a shop of souvenirs with articles made by Byelorussian specialists. Alongside with traditional tourist tours the museum provides theatricalized tours. "Marriage in the Mir Castle" ceremony is of great popularity.  On concert venues of "Mir" musical and knight festivals are traditionally carried out as well as festivals of arts and handicrafts. 

A much greater number of museum articles presenting cultural and historic heritage of Jews living in Mir is presented in Victor Sakel's private museum situated in building of an old inn (probably that was the very inn where famous writer Vladislav Srykomlia once met a sad coachman and heard from him the terrible story about this coachman's beloved woman who had frozen during a strong snowstorm - this story later became the basis for the poem "When I served a coachman at the post" which according to the legend was started by Syrokomlia yet in the inn and which later became a popular song).

V.Sakel's collection includes many items related with the history of Jews living in Mir. An entire room of the museum is devoted to this history. Among items of the "Jewish hall" there is a big bowl which once stood in the synagogue and was used for donations; ancient clock, Jewish books, fragments of Torah, fritted bottles from the Jewish pharmacy shop, weights from a Jewish shop, a chair from a Jewishhouse etc.

Archives (with interesting information concerning the history of this locality)

The Belarus National Historical Archive in Minsk and Grodno

Lithuanian State Historical Archive in Vilnius.

The Main Archive of Ancient Acts in Warsaw (AGAD)

The State Archive of the Russian Federation

Department of Manuscripts at Chartoriyskiys' Library in Krakov.

TOURISTIC INFRASTRUCTUREDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Bus station

Urban-type settlement Mir, square the 17th September, 9, tel.: +3751596 23174.


Urban-type settlement Mir – hotel institution the «Castle Complex "Mir" 15 Rooms (for 30 persons)..

Agrarian ecological estates: 

Estate "Khutorok" Address: urban-type settlement Mir, str. Stashevskoy 15. Owner - Sergey Nickolayevich Labotskiy. Services – accommodation, tel.: 8(01596)23422, mobile tel.: +37529-6923422.

Estate "Castle outskirts". Address: urban-type settlement Mir, str. Pionerskaya 44. Owner - Sergey Anatolyevich Pisklov, mobile tel.: +375 29 620-86-71 Email: [email protected]

Estate "At Nikodim's" - Owner Nikodim Borisovich Narbutovich. Address: urban-type settlement Mir, str. Oktabrskaya 31, mobile tel.: +375 29 662-33-93

Estate "Svetlazara" Owner - Svetlana Nickolayevna Gusakova. Address: Mir, str. Moskovskaya 31, mobile tel.: +37529-3779858,


- Cafe "Ragenda" District Consumer Society (96 seats), square the 17th of September, 1, tel.: +3751596 (23-3-79).

- Club-cafe "Doroga Zamkov" self-employed entrepreneur Y.V. Lizunova, str. Krasnoarmayskaya 9, tel.: +3751596 (28-1-95), mobile tel.: +37529- 671-24-64,

- Cafe "Mirum Grad" ("Mirum Grad" Ltd, director S.A. Kudlash), mobile tel.: +37529-611-16-62, str. Krasnoarmeyskaya, 1a

Sightseeing services

Institution "Museum" the Castle Complex "Mir", urban-type settlement Mir, str. Krasnoarmeyskaya 2, tel.: +37521596 -2-30-35, web-site.

"Mirskiy Pasad" Address: Mir, the 2nd lane Kirova 2. Owner – Victor Yanovich Sakel. Services: a tour about the private museum; organization of touristic tours about the settlement, tel.: +37521596-23032, mobile tel.: +37529-9294268.

REFERENCESDirect link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index

Краўцэвіч А.К. Стары Мір. Мн.: Навука і тэхніка, 1993. 

Раманава, І., Махоўская, І. Мір:гісторыя мястэчка, што расказалі яго жыхары / І.Раманава, І.Махоўская. Вільня: ЕГУ, 2009.

Ружанский Сэм, Комиссаренко Л. Освальд Руфайзен. Брат Даниэль. Антология.

Улицкая Л. Даниэль Штайн, переводчик. М., 2008.

Смиловицкий Л. Катастрофа евреев в Белоруссии, 1941-1944 гг. Тель-Авив : Б-ка Матвея Черного, 2000.

Ботвинник М.Б. Памятники геноцида евреев Беларуси. Минск: Беларуская навука, 2000.

Памяць: Гісторыка-дакументальная хроніка Карэліцкага раёна. Мінск: БелЭн, 2000.

Новицкая О., Прокопенко Л. Мтроительство каменных синагог в м.Мир на рубеже ХIХ – ХХ вв. // Карэліччына: людзі, падзеі, час. Мінск: Беларуская навука, 2012. С. 138 – 150.

Соркіна Іна. Мястэчкі Беларусі ў канцы XVIІІ – першай палове ХІХ ст. / Нав. рэдактар З.Шыбека. Вільня: ЕГУ, 2010. 488 с.

Иоффе Э. Знаменитые евреи – уроженцы Кореличского района // Карэліччына: людзі, падзеі, час. Мінск: Беларуская навука, 2012. С. 331 – 343.

Фрыдман, А. Лёс мірскай ешывы // ARCHE. № 3 (8). 2000. С. 201 – 205.

Stępniewska-Holzer, B. Zydzi na Białorusi: Studium z dziejów strefy osiedlenia w 1 pol. XIX w. / B. Stępniewska-Holzer. – Warszawa: Wyd-wo UW, 2013. – 230 s.

Pinkas Hakehillot. Encyclopedia of Jewish Connunities. Poland. Vol. VIII. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2005. (иврит)

Jewish life. The encyclopedia of Jewish life before and during the Holocaust. Vol. II. S. 830/

Słownik geograficzny Krolewstwa Polskiego. – T. VI. – Warszawa, 1885. – S. 485 – 488.


Фильм Амира Гера и Шалома Руфайзена. Последний еврей: в 4 ч. (об Освальде Руфайзене) – в свободном доступе в интернете:

Фильм ОНТ «Из Мира в мир» (об иешиве) – в свободном доступе в интернете:

Фильм о Мирском гетто – в фондах музея «Мирский замок»


Сайт о еврейском Мире, созданный выходцами из Мира и их потомками:

Mir // Wirtualny Sztetl. Muzeum Historii Zydow Polskich – Режим доступа:,-/

Мирская иешива //


Музей Мірскі замак //

Мир: Электронная еврейская энциклопедия //

Мір //

Мір //

Online memorial book of Mir (Hebrew) at the New York Library website //


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Author: Inna Sorkina, PhD Direct link for this paragraphGo back to indexGo back to index