Minsk is the capital and largest city in Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers.
In its history, Minsk has been a provincial city within the principality of Polotsk, a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a city in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and a Russian city. From 1919–1991, Minsk was the capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Minsk was the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, and thus, part of the Soviet Union. Given its location, it was a frequent target of aerial attacks early in the second European war. In 1939, the Soviet government reported Polish bombers launched a successful raid on Minsk. It also claimed that German planes were observed during the attack. (Privately, Soviet pilot Sergei Yaroslavsky doubted that, as he and his squad were socked in due to the overcast conditions not far from Minsk; it would be impossible for observers on the ground to see much of anything. His train of thought continued until he wondered whether the attack had happened at all.)
By 1940, however, combined Polish and German forces had advanced to, and occupied, Minsk.