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Brest, Belarus

Brest is a city (population 300.000) in Belarus close to the Polish border where the Western Bug and Mukhavets Rivers[?] meet. It was a main railroad transfer point during the Soviet Union and it remains a rail transfer point and customs/immigration checkpoint on the Berlin/Moscow rail line. Some of the land in the rail yards is contamination due to transhipping[?] of radioactive materials during the Soviet regime. It was also here that the trains had to be transferred to the different Polish/European guages — one of the factors that prevented Stalin from completely absorbing Poland into the USSR after World War II. It is the capital city of the Brestskaya voblast.

On the Western outskirts of Brest at the confluence of the Western Bug and Mukhavets Riverthere[?] are ruins of a fortress dating back to the 19th century. Here the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed in 1918. The fortress was also the site of a fierce battle between the Nazis and Soviets that started on June 22, 1941. The fortress held out within a month. That helped to establish Brest's status as one of the Hero cities[?] of the Soviet Union. A majestic memorial site was constructed here in 1971 to commemorate the known and unknown defenders of the fortress. Since then the war memorial has been the main tourist attraction of the city. As to new attractions, the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum is a must.

Menachem Begin, the former prime minister of Israel, was born in Brest. A holocaust memorial commemorates the dead Jews of Brest ghetto.

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