Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia
An Unauthorized History from the Kennedy Assassination 

Minsk Part 1: Introduction

Copyright Peter Wronski 1991-2004

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Introduction--Oswald in Minsk

Many people have characterized Minsk as a Soviet provincial backwater.  They are wrong.  Located halfway between Moscow and Warsaw, Minsk during Oswald's time was the capital of the Belarus Republic with a population of a million people. Literally translated, Belarus means "White Russian" but that should not be confused with the Russian Civil War tsarist "White Russian" factions.  Belarussians are a unique people with their own language and a culture residing somewhere between the Poles, Balts, and the Russians.  Minsk was also the home of a substantially large Jewish community which suffered some of the worst Nazi holocaust excesses recorded during World War II.  After the war the Jewish population was rebuilt with refugees from different parts of Eastern Europe under Soviet control, thus Minsk developed a slightly more cosmopolitan edge to it than a typical Soviet city.

In 1960 Minsk would have been at the zenith of a massive postwar rebuilding campaign.  Eighty percent of the city was destroyed by the Nazis, and using mostly German POW slave labor, the Soviets effectively rebuilt the city between 1945-1955 before allowing the German prisoners to return home.  Housing in Minsk was more available and of better quality than in Moscow.  Minsk had been a major industrial center before the war, and many industries returned to the region in the postwar era.  The city was also the home for several important academic institutions, research centers and military, police and intelligence academies. (Even though the CIA reported there were no intelligence schools there.) 

I cannot say how Oswald felt about Minsk when he arrived. While Minsk nor Moscow in Oswald's time were anything like they were in the 1990's, I personally found Minsk a welcoming relief from Moscow with its ugly frowning crowds, dirt, noise, mercenary women, gangsters, chaos, bad food, bad air, bad manners, and generally bad attitude towards everything and anything.  While Minsk may not have had as many museums and clubs as Moscow, its crowds were relatively friendly and sane.  In Oswald's time it must have been one of the more positive urban centers in the Soviet Union and that is precisely why the Soviet authorities sent him there.  

Downtown Minsk  

NEXT:  THE KGB AND OSWALD'S ARRIVAL IN MINSK


Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia
An Unauthorized History from the Kennedy Assassination 

Minsk Part 1: Introduction

Copyright Peter Wronski 1991-2004

Next Page

Previous Page



MAIN PAGE