shield
crest
This shield was used from the 16th Century until the city came under Russian rule in the 19th Century. During Russian rule the original shield was replaced with the bison shield to the right. This symbol has now been restored to use and now can be seen in numerous places in modern Brest. The bison (zubr) was a once very numerous animal in the region. Bierascie, as Brest was known, was an important border city for Russia; this is recognized by Russian eagle flag on the lower port of this Russian-era shield.

The City of Brest (Latitude: 52.06N - Longitude: 23.42E) is in the western part of Belarus, also known as Belorussian Polessye (Polesie). The current population is approximately 300,000. The city is situated at the junction of the Mukhavets River and the Western Bug River. Brest is the administrative center of the Brest Region.

Over the centuries Brest has been peopled by people of many origins and has had many different names:  --  Yiddish: Brisk or Brisk D'lita (Brest of Lithuania*).

  --   Russian: Brest-Litovsk: Brest of Lithuania*. Also known as Brestye, Berestye, Berestei, Berestov.

  --   Polish: Brzesc, Brzesc nad Bugiem (Brest on the River Bug), Brzesc-Litevski*

  --   Belarusian: Brest, Brest Litousk*

  --   Ukrainian: Berestia

  --   Lithuanian: Brastas

  --   German: Brest-Litowsk*

The name is said to be derived from the word Berestye, birch-bark.


* D'lita, Litovsk, Litevski, Litousk, Litowsk all signify Lithuania, but these do not refer to the modern nation of that name. Rather, these words refers to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (often abbreviated GDL) which encompassed the entire region in the 14th century.

Jews have lived in Brest since as early as 1388, when the Grand Duke Vitautas of Lithuania granted a charter to the Jews living in the town. The presence of Jews is well-documented since 1503. Since those early days there was always a Jewish cemetery in Brest.


The Jews from Brest called themselves Brisker. The Brisker Jews also refer to themselves as Litvish - or Litvaks, again referring to the 14th century Grand Duchy of Lithuania.


The Population of Brest
1556 - Jewish house owners in Brest numbered 106 (12.4%), in a total population of 852. The houses were small, insignificant frame buildings. The only synagogue was also a frame building.


1566 - Jewish house owners in Brest numbered 85.


1776 - The Jewish population of Brest was 3,175.


1862 - The total population of Brest was 20,000.


1882 - The total population of Brest was 35,000. 1887 - The total population of Brest was 44,124.

1897 - The Jewish population of Brest city was 30,252 (65%), in a total population of 46,568 (25,509 men and 21,059 women).


1897 - The Jewish population of Brest district (including the city) was 45,902 (21%), in a total population of 218,366.

1909 - The population of Brest city (mainly Jewish) had increased to 53,000.


1981 - The population of Brest city was estimated at 194,000.


1983 - The population of Brest city was estimated at 286,400.


1992 - The population of Brest city was estimated at 284,086.


1996 - The population of Brest city was estimated at 293,086.


Links
A Town with Four Names, by Dr. Sam Chani

/1/ This is an experimental footnote. Brisk Seattle Phobos. Will this text be seen by Google?

Notes: For footnote experiment: drosophila tapioca purple.

Last Updated: 04-Dec-2016