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Minsk Tractor Works neighborhood: “Town inside city” and threat of demolition

Many people visited Tractor Works Town and many of them compared it either with a small Paris or with Monmartre Boulevard but Belarusian poet Piatrus Brouka compared it with a huge hero pulling out pines in the forest with his broad shoulders.

Cosy low-rise buildings, steeples, fancy balconies and empire pilasters. The tractor works town is a memorial to the post WWII period. Now it seems to be created for leisurely walks through avenues. And only creative intellectuals are to live there.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
First of all this town was designed by Soviet and, perhaps, German architectures. Even despite numerous losses of small sculptures, settings on panes and so on it remains authentic and uncorrupted. That is why this area is so integral, the place where you can simply feel the atmosphere of the late 1950s and the place which not easy to leave due to its atmosphere.

The history of the Tractor Works Town has been concealed for a long time.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
It was forbidden to speak publicly about German prisoners, mass media was not able to speak about them until the 1980s.

Factory workers’ houses were among the first to be built in the postwar Minsk. Tractor Works had high hopes as it was to become a USSR-wide local economic mainstay. By the way, it was originally expected to produce fighter airplanes.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
Indeed, the year 1940 saw the construction of heavy bombing aircraft by confidential name of No431 due to the particular decision of Stalin and Panamarenko. Hangars and accommodation units for pilot officers were built in the town. Besides, 2 out of these units have come down to us and are now located in the town. The decision to construct Minsk Tractor Works was taken after the WWII in 1945.

It was just 1946 when the first new tenants took up residence in newly-built two-story houses.

In the postwar period, it was a real luxury to have houses with a heating system. It is said that designs of buildings were brought from Germany and the tractor town architecture does resemble German suburbs.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
It is a well-known fact that more than 2,500 German prisoners took part in the construction of the town and Minsk Tractor Works. But the majority of the modern architects confirm that German officers and architects most probably were forced to do this work. Architectural plans were possibly taken from Germany as a trophy and further applied to the construction of the town. The architecture is very much unlike the Soviet one and is truly comfortable.

The Tractor Works town was constructed according to the best city-planning standards of that time.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
At the moment this neighbourhood, Osmolovka and the avenue have become Minsk brands. Socialistic heritage is a real treasure of Minsk city, which attracts not only Minsk natives and tourists, but first of all also city visitors, including foreign guests. It is a fact that the Tractor Works town is of the main interest for European visitors in Belarus and in Minsk itself.

Hundreds of citizens came to admire the slipping charm of this unique corner of the city for in the near future some houses of the town will remain only in the minds and on the pictures of natives.

City residents, visitors and even residents of the town gathered to learn something new and to share impressions. By the way, excursions were also conducted in French and in English this day.

Roman Abramchuk, a culture expert:
The town is a unique fragment of Minsk heritage, Minsk postwar architecture and its first example. And today’s rush has emerged from the threat of the town demolition. It is one of the last opportunities to see the whole town as it was planned by conceptualist architects. On the other hand, the influence of mass media boosted excursions and the development of awareness.

Excursion visitors:
I’m not surprised by the crowd here. And having such low-rise buildings surely makes a difference from the overall architectural area of Minsk. I’m very interested in the history of my native city. Events of such kind are held quite seldom. Look at this crowd. People missed such a thing. Citizens want to know how life was going before them and how it would be after. That is why I’m here.

Tamara grew up along with the town as she has been living here since 1946. She is sure that locals are very lucky to have exceptionally friendly neighbours.

Tamara Ryabova:
We got used to living here. Pioneer Garden Square used to be in the place where there is a church now. There were small sculptures for children and they played there. When Roman was showing me this place I remembered details.

The majority of town residents spent their lifetime inside the town and its outskirts.

People were born, attended school, worked and got married in the “ town in the city”

Tamara Ryabova:
I’m the first school leaver of school No22 which was located in a hut building on Budennyi Street. Now there is a kindergarten. School graduation party took place in this hut as well. We came to school in the morning, there was a stove heating, fields were frosted and we all sat closer to the stove to get warm as it was rather cold.

The free excursion, which gathered more than a hundred of people, showed great concern about the future of this district. It means that walks across the city symbol of rebirth, namely the tractor works town, is going to continue within days.