Barys Kit turns 100

Both Belarus and Belarusians around the world have the right to be proud of Dr. Kit, a celebrated scientist and educator and a great patriot of his Fatherland...

Barys Kit, an outstanding Belarusian mathematician, physicist, chemist, philosopher and educator who lives in Germany's Frankfurt am Main, turned 100 on April 6.

Both Belarus and Belarusians around the world have the right to be proud of Dr. Kit, a celebrated scientist and educator and a great patriot of his Fatherland, Alena Makowskaya, president of the Batskawshchyna World Association of Belarusians, said in an interview with BelaPAN.

Despite his age and rather difficult fate, Dr. Kit stands out because of his great energy, active civic position and a bright spirit, Ms. Makowskaya said.

"He was persecuted and forced into exile for trying to revive the Belarusian school," she said. "However, thanks to his commitment and hard work, Dr. Kit's talent has received international acclaim. Kit is among the Belarusians who made their country known around the world. He is indeed a man of the world who is open to all people."

In late February, the organizing committee adopted a schedule of events to celebrate the 100th birthday of Barys Kit.

Among them is an evening to be held at the Palace of Arts in Minsk on April 6.

The committee planned also planned to unveil a memorial in the yard of a school in Karelichy, Hrodna region, where Dr. Kit once studied; hold a meeting and an exhibition at the local history museum in Karelichy; give lectures in schools in the Navahrudak district; publish a catalogue of the Kit collection of the Navahrudak History and Ethnography Museum; produce a film about Dr. Kit; publish a special envelope in his honor and hold a scholarly conference at the museum, an exhibition at the National Library of Belarus and a children's intellectual games tournament in Navahrudak.

Representatives of the Belarusian government in Frankfurt am Main were expected to extend birthday greetings to Dr. Kit.

Barys Kit was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 6, 1910. His family soon moved to the village of Aharodniki, which was his father's home town (now the town of Karelichy, Hrodna region).

A graduate of the Navahradak (Navahrudak) Lyceum and the University of Vilna, he served as teacher and later as director of Vilna's Belarusian Lyceum, which he managed to move to Navahradak at the beginning of World War II.

During the 1941-44 Nazi occupation of Belarus, Dr. Kit worked as a teacher in the village of Lebedzeva near Maladzyechna and later as the principal at the Pastavy Teachers College. Although he never collaborated with the Nazis, the researcher had to flee Belarus, fearing the Stalinist terror. He moved to Germany first and later settled down in the United States.

In the mid-1950s, Barys Kit began his scientific activities in the field of astronautics. He worked for the US space research program for 25 years. As a mathematician and systems analyst, he took part in projects aimed at the development of inter-continental rocket systems. He was involved in pioneering research and development work for the first American inter-continental, strategic rocket system Navaho at the North American Aviation, Inc. (presently Rockwell International Corporation). After the Navaho project was cancelled, he worked in the planning division on several new space projects, which later were used in the Apollo mission to the moon and on the Shuttle spaceship project.

Since 1958, Dr. Kit worked at the US Air Forces Department, Astronautics Bureau as a state adviser and expert in international astronautics, mainly Soviet. In 1964, he co-authored a review of the Soviet Union's space research program.

A "time capsule" with the ethnic Belarusian scientist was immured in the wall of Capitol in Washington, which is a symbol of high distinction in the United States and honors individuals of particular accomplishments.

Dr. Kit, whom Belarusian literary great Vasil Bykaw called Belarusian Number One in the world, has been living in Frankfurt am Main since 1972.