Byaroza (Kartuz-Byaroza or Kartuzskaya Byaroza, Belor. Byaroza;
until 1940 it was called Beryoza-Kartuzskaya, Polish. Bereza
Kartuska) - a city in Polesie, on the Yaselda river.
It is the administrative center of the Berezovsky district of the Brest region of Belarus. As of January 1, 2020, the city's population was 28,500 people.
The coat of arms of the city of Birch is a shield, in the blue field of which a silver gate is depicted. In the lower part of the field there is a silver tip, accompanied by two wavy belts: the upper one is silver, the lower one is blue.
The coat of arms was officially approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 659 of December 2, 2008.
The first mention of the village of Byaroza dates back to 1477, when the owner of the village Jan Hamshey founded the Church of the Holy Trinity here. At the end of the 15th century, Byaroza became a trading city, receiving a city charter and the right to host a weekly fair. Between 1538 and 1600 it was a major center of Calvinism.
In 1617, Byaroz became the property of the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Lev Sapieha, who first of all founds a new Catholic church here (the former, after being in the hands of the Calvinists for more than half a century, finally became impoverished). In 1629, Sapega also allowed local Jews to open a school and a synagogue. At this time, a Uniate church already existed in the city.
After his death in 1633, Byaroza by will passed to his eldest son Jan Sapega, Marshal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then to his younger brother, Kazimierz Lev Sapega.
Kazimier Lev Sapega inherited from his father not only the ability for government affairs and an outstanding mind, but also deep piety. During his life, he founded many churches and monasteries, one of which was the Carthusian monastery in Byaroz.
The corner stone of the church was solemnly laid in 1648. Construction was prevented by the misfortunes that fell on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the same year - the beginning of the Cossack war and the death of the Polish king Vladislav IV. Only on January 3, 1650, the act of founding a monastery of the Carthusian (Carthusian) monastic order was signed in Warsaw. The construction of the monastery was carried out by an unknown Italian architect and was completed in 1689.
In connection with the emergence of the monastery, the city, which was transferred to it, received its second name - Beryoza-Kartuska (Polish: Bereza Kartuska). The monastery contributed to the development of local trade and crafts. Gradually expanding, the monastery became one of the largest in the entire Rzeczpospolita. The monastic complex included a church building, monastic cells, a refectory, a library, a hospital, a pharmacy, and outbuildings. The complex was equipped with a defensive system: the monastery with an adjoining garden and a pond was surrounded by a moat filled with water and a stone wall with watchtowers. In the middle of the courtyard, adjacent to the apse of the church, there was a high bell tower with thick walls and many tiers for placing cannon guns. In 1680, Jews were allowed to build a house of worship and conduct their services without hindrance.
In 1706 the monastery was besieged, after which it was taken by storm, set on fire and plundered by the troops of the Swedish king Charles XII. Two years later, Swedish troops once again plundered the city, which led to its almost complete devastation. The city was also damaged by Russian troops under the command of Alexander Suvorov in 1772, during the first partition of Poland.
After the third partition of the Rzecz Pospolita, the city, together with the monastery, passed to the Russian Empire and entered the Pruzhany district of the Slonim, then the Lithuanian and even later Grodno province.
During the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1830-1831, the city was occupied by Russian troops.
The ensemble of the monastery existed in its original form until 1863. As punishment for the active participation of the Cartesian monks in the Polish uprising of 1863, the Russian authorities closed the monastery, and in 1866 the monastery complex was partially destroyed, and the bricks were used to build the "red barracks" and the Orthodox church in Beryoz. The church located on the territory of the monastery was destroyed in 1868.
The city entered the so-called "Pale of Settlement" and was settled by Jews resettled from other regions of the Russian Empire. In 1931, they accounted for 52.2% of the 4521 inhabitants. In 1871, the Warsaw-Moscow railway was laid near the city, connecting the city with the neighboring large cities of Brest-Litovsk and Smolensk. In 1878 the city had seven streets and about 200 houses. The population of the city and the surrounding area was about 5000 people. The city had a Catholic church, an Orthodox church and several synagogues.
In 1906, during the First Russian Revolution, riots broke out among the soldiers of the Pyatigorsk 151st Infantry Regiment, stationed in Bereza-Kartuzskaya.
In 1915, during the First World War, the city was captured by Germany and found itself outside the political and revolutionary processes taking place in the Russian Empire. The German occupation lasted until January 19, 1919, when the city was briefly occupied by the Red Army, already on February 14, 1919, as a result of the battle for Bereza-Kartuzskaya, it was repulsed by the Poles. During the Soviet-Polish war, the city twice became the arena of battles, in July 1920 it was again occupied by the Red Army, but at the end of the war, like the rest of Western Belarus, went to Poland.
From June 1934 to September 17, 1939, the buildings of the former
Soviet barracks were used to house a camp for opponents of the
ruling regime. It was headed by the police inspector Jan Greffner
from Poznan. According to Polish sources, the camp held up to 800
people. In Soviet sources, the camp was called “concentration camp,”
and its existence was considered evidence of the “fascist” nature of
the sanitation regime. According to Soviet data, by the beginning of
1938, the number of prisoners here exceeded 7 thousand.
In September 1939, the city, along with all of Western Belarus, was annexed to the USSR, and on June 23, 1941 it was occupied by the advancing German troops.
Before the start of the Great Patriotic War, the share of Jews in the city's population was 80%. During the war, a ghetto was created in the city for Jews, who, among other things, were brought here from neighboring areas. More than 8 thousand Jews died here in massacres and starved to death.
After the war, the city became part of the USSR, and the remaining Polish population was evicted to Polish territory. The Jewish community was not restored. The remains of the walls of the Carthusian monastery remained in a dilapidated state.