"Slonim, the town where I lived which was sometimes Poland and sometimes Russia."
St. Andrew's Church in Slonim, Belarus
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSt. Andrew's Church in Slonim, Belarus - Credit: Unomano

Leo Gursky grew up in Slonim and wrote his first book about the city. Today, Slonim is located in northwestern Belarus, but prior to the dissolution of the USSR and Belarus's declaration of independence in 1991, the city was part of the Soviet Union.  Before World War II redefined Eastern European borders, it lay in the east of Poland.

Prior to World War I, Slonim had been under Russian control since the Commonwealth of Lithuania-Poland was dismantled in the late 1700s. But German forces captured the town in 1915, and when the War ended the area of Slonim was disputed between Poland and the Soviet Union, leading to the Polish-Soviet war of 1920. Poland emerged victorious, but when it was invaded by the Soviet Union and Germany in WWII, Slonim once again fell under Soviet Union control. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and captured Slonim, but three years later the Allies agreed to hand back the area to the Soviet Union.

Visit the BBC's Europe's Changing Borders presentation to see how borders across Europe have changed from the start of the 20th Century to the present day.