Belarusian Peoples’ Republic established

Less than three weeks after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk formally brought an end to Russia’s participation in the First World War, the former Russian province of Belarus declares itself an independent, democratic republic on this day in 1918.

Modern-day Belarus—also known as Belorussia—was formerly part of Poland, its neighbor to the west, until a series of wars in the late 18th century ended with the partition of Poland and with Belarus in Russian hands. In 1917, Belarus capitalized on Russian weakness and disorder resulting from its participation in World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution of that year and proclaimed its independence, after more than a century of occupation by the czarist empire. At the time, Belarus was occupied by the German army, according to the terms formalized at Brest-Litovsk on March 3.

On March 25, a Rada (or council) pronounced the creation of the Belarussian People’s Republic. Eight months later, however, with the defeat of the Central Powers at the hands of the Allies in World War I, Brest-Litovsk was invalidated and the German army was forced to pull out of Belarus and the former Russian territories. This left the fledgling republic vulnerable to a new Russian invasion—that of the Bolshevik Red Guard, who entered the Belarussian capital city of Minsk on January 5, 1919, and crushed the republic’s government.

With the Rada in exile, the Bolsheviks declared the establishment of the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Poland, determined to reestablish its historical dominance over the region, promptly invaded the new soviet state; the Treaty of Riga of 1921 gave Poland the western part of Belarus. The rest of it became a constituent of the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), founded by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1922. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the USSR took the opportunity to annex the part it had lost in 1921. These borders were confirmed in a treaty signed by the USSR and Poland at the end of World War II.

The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and Belarus became one of the founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an association of 12 former republics of the USSR formed to help regulate foreign affairs, as well as military and economic policy among the member states. On March 25, 1993, the anniversary of the proclamation of Belarusian independence was openly celebrated for the first time in Minsk and other cities in the republic.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Last U.S. troops depart Somalia

At the end of a largely unsuccessful 15-month mission, the last U.S. troops depart Somalia, leaving 20,000 U.N. troops behind to keep the peace and facilitate “nation building” in the divided country. In 1992, civil war, clan-based fighting, and the worst African drought of the more

The settlement of Maryland

The first colonists to Maryland arrive at St. Clement’s Island on Maryland’s western shore and found the settlement of St. Mary’s. In 1632, King Charles I of England granted a charter to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, yielding him proprietary rights to a region east of more

King Faisal assassinated

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, King Faisal is shot to death by his nephew, Prince Faisal. King Faisal, son of King Ibn Saud, fought in the military campaigns in the 1920s and ’30s that helped forge modern Saudi Arabia. He later served as Saudi ambassador to the United Nations and in more

Common Market founded

On March 25, 1957, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg sign a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market. The EEC, which came into operation in January 1958, was a major step in Europe’s more

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City

In one of the darkest moments of America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down, killing 146 workers, on this day in 1911. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of more

Yugoslavia joins the Axis

On this day, Yugoslavia, despite an early declaration of neutrality, signs the Tripartite Pact, forming an alliance with Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan. A unified nation of Yugoslavia, an uneasy federation of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was a response to the collapse of more

Johnson meets with the “Wise Men”

After being told by Defense Secretary Clark Clifford that the Vietnam War is a “real loser,” President Johnson, still uncertain about his course of action, decides to convene a nine-man panel of retired presidential advisors. The group, which became known as the “Wise Men,” more

Sugar Ray defeats Basilio for middleweight title

On March 25, 1958, Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Carmen Basilio to regain the middleweight championship. It was the fifth and final title of his career. Robinson is considered by many to be the greatest prizefighter in history. No less an authority than heavyweight champion Muhammad more

USS Sequoia becomes presidential yacht

On this day in 1933, President Herbert Hoover accepts the newly commissioned USS Sequoia as the official presidential yacht. For 44 years, the Sequoia served as an occasional venue for recreation and official gatherings for eight U.S. presidents. Before it was commissioned as more

Fire kills 145 at Triangle Shirtwaist factory

In one of the most infamous incidents in America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down on this day in 1911, killing 146 workers. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the more

Verdict is announced in Scottsboro case

The Supreme Court hands down its decision in the case of Powell v. Alabama. The case arose out of the infamous Scottsboro case. Nine young black men were arrested and accused of raping two white women on train in Alabama. The boys were fortunate to barely escaped a lynch mob sent more

Battle of Fort Stedman, Virginia

On this day in 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee makes Fort Stedman his last attack of the war in a desperate attempt to break out of Petersburg, Virginia. The attack failed, and within a week Lee was evacuating his positions around Petersburg. For nine months, Petersburg more

Soviets announce withdrawal from Iran

In conclusion to an extremely tense situation of the early Cold War, the Soviet Union announces that its troops in Iran will be withdrawn within six weeks. The Iranian crisis was one of the first tests of power between the United States and the Soviet Union in the postwar world. more