1914 — World War I in Berezna Burning granary in Brest-Litovsk Destroyed buildings in Brest-LitovskMap of Europe based on Treaty of Brest-LitovskMap of Ukraine based on Treaty of Brest-Litovsk August 1 , 1914 — Germany declared war on Russia, drawing the empire into World War I. This declaration began an extended period of military and political conflict in the region around Berezna. German troops occupied Brest-Litovsk, Kobryn, and Antopol in the summer of 1915. By some accounts, German rule was harsh, especially for young men, many of whom were sent away to labor camps. The German language became required in local schools. Many homes were burned and the area became impoverished.During German occupation, many local residents fled into Russia or emigrated. Whether Nikifor Parfomuk’s family remained in Berezna is not known. Nikifor, being around 20 at the time, may have acted independently. Nikifor’s future wife, Justyna Siliwonczyk, left Berezna with her family to work on a Muslim vizier’s estate somewhere in Turkestan (present day Kazakhstan). Justyna was born on January 10, 1904, so she would have been around 10 years old at the time. In November 1917, the Bolsheviks overthrew Czar Nicholas II and seized power in Russia. On March 3, 1918, Germany and (newly Soviet) Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Under the treaty, the Brest-Litovsk region, including Berezna, provisionally became part of the Ukraine (see the Northwest corner of Ukraina on the map). However, the region remained under German administration because Ukraine was effectively a satellite state of Germany at the time.