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Records were made wherever and whenever possible – in dugouts, between the battles, on wallpaper, exercise books, office books…

Handwritten partisan journals were kept together with important documents. They contained facts and figures interspersed with stories about the daily grind, battles and heroes. Handmade 'books' were pepped up by pictures and unfailing sense of humor. They were circulated to raise morale. They were read to draw strength.

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When Hitler's troops were at Stalingrad, Soviet special commissioners would go to the frontline, to partisans' camps and enterprises evacuated to the rear to collect the exhibits for the future Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War.
FIRST EXHIBITS OF THE MUSEUM
OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

Makeshift partisan assault rifle made by Ya. Temyakov and Ya. Menkin
Makeshift partisan submachine gun made by V. Dolganov
Makeshift partisan submachine gun made by N. Sergeyev
Handmade knife – a gift to Panteleimon Ponomarenko from partisans of Brest Oblast
In early November 1942, more than 300 exhibits were first presented at the exhibition "Byelorussia is alive and fighting. Byelorussia will always be Soviet" in the building of the State Historical Museum in Moscow. One year later the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia adopted a decision to turn this exhibition into the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This chapter of the Partisan Chronicles tells about the museum and its formative years.
One of the halls of the first exposition of the museum. 1944–1945
Museum's opening day. 22 October 1944
Natalia Filippovich, a senior researcher at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, recalls:

"Piotr Goncharov was one of those who were at the roots of the museum and its traditions. He headed the department of history of the partisan movement. He brought plenty of precious items for the museum from partisan forests, the frontline. That was the beginning of the museum's collections and first exposition."

Natalia Filippovich
a senior researcher at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War
Piotr Goncharov (left). Photo from the museum's archives
The museum's first employment records date back to 16 July 1944. Among the first employees was Piotr Goncharov, a former commander of the partisan unit "Za Rodinu" of the Belarus brigade, Minsk Oblast. After the liberation of Minsk he, along with other partisan commanders, was invited to meet with the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Byelorussia Panteleimon Ponomarenko to discuss future employment. Piotr Goncharov initially refused to accept a new job and asked to send him to the frontline but eventually had to accept the job offer.
Certificate issued by the Belarusian Headquarters of the Partisan Movement to Goncharov
The combat and political performance review of the commander of the unit "Za Rodinu" of the Belarus brigade reflects the history of the unit:

During his term of the unit's commander, the unit performed the following major combat operations:
a) German soldiers and officers killed – 730
b) Policemen killed – 13
c) German horses killed and burned – 29
g) German soldiers and officers wounded – 557
d) Policemen wounded – 10
e) Germans taken prisoner – 40
f) Acts of sabotage on the railway – 43
g) Acts of sabotage on roads – 42
h) Locomotives undermined 23
i) Wagons damaged and broken – 93.
Commanders of the Belarus partisan brigade, Minsk Oblast. Photo from the museum's archives
On the instructions of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, Piotr Goncharov was looking for a suitable building for the museum, which was not an easy thing to do in Minsk that lay in ruins. The museum opened on 22 October 1944 in the House of Trade Unions in Svobody Square, one of the few surviving buildings in the center of the capital.
House of Trade Unions in Svobody Square in Minsk which housed the Museum of the Great Patriotic War
Working at the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History, Piotr Goncharov successfully used his partisan and command experience.
Letter of employment verification confirming that Goncharov worked at the museum from 16 July 1944 to 20 March 1946
"…During his work at the museum Piotr Goncharov proved himself as head of the department of history of the partisan movement, the largest department at the museum. He did a great job collecting exhibits and putting on exhibitions. Thousands of valuable artifacts and documents about the partisan movement in Belarus were collected with his help. He took an active part in the organization of the exhibitions "Weapons of Belarusian Partisans" and "Bolshevik Press of Belarus in the Days of the Great Patriotic War". These expositions drew a total of 40,000 visitors and received a lot of positive feedback…"

Piotr Goncharov's description by Director of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War Vasily Stalnov
Natalya Filippovich recalls:

"Piotr Goncharov performed important political duties in Minsk Oblast. He was Chairman of the Dzerzhinsk District Executive Committee. From 1980 to 1992 he was head of the museum subsidiary (Mound of Glory Memorial). All those years he was a close friend to the museum, he was always ready to help with advice or consultation. He was always happy to visit us. He and his friends recalled the time of the war and the partisan period as the best years of his life. A person lives with hope and a desire for the better. They were young, strong and full of energy …"

Excerpt from the Krasny Partisan handwritten journal, Issue No.9, September 1942
"... Now, when the homeland is going through difficult days of the last stage of war, everyone has a better understanding of what patriotism is.

Partisans, who have quickly catapulted to worldwide fame, must give up themselves, their lives, and personal interests to the interests of the merciless fight against the Nazi invaders."

Partisans posing with trophies seized during a fight against Nazis. Photo by BelTA
Partisan journals always had room for bitter satire and humor. Cowardice and indecision were the first things to be ridiculed and condemned. There were always numerous examples of courage and heroism at hand. There was an overwhelming majority of them.
Photo from the museum's archives
Surprise and decisive actions are the best helpers in a partisan war. They helped out national avengers many times, saving them from unavoidable deaths or captivity. The enemy often failed to even understand what was going on…

An excerpt from the Krasny Partisan handwritten journal, Issue No.9, September 1942
In the occupied territories the Nazis took away the last food and cattle from local residents without any qualms of conscience. Partisans came to the rescue of the local population as PVC Kopyev recalls.

An excerpt from the Krasny Partisan handwritten journal, Issue No.9, September 1942
Dead tired, we've been driving cattle for over 30km. We didn't sleep for two nights, we ate nothing in the last 24 hours, we travelled for about 70km but we were going fast and with a spring in our step and joy in our hearts. We dismantled two bridges on the way. Upon orders of the unit commander, senior political commissar Pokrovsky, 62 cows were given to families of the Red Army soldiers and partisans, to those whose cattle had been seized by the Nazis due to their untrustworthiness.
An excerpt from the Krasny Partisan handwritten journal, Issue No.7, July 1942
"These journals represent an artistic chronicle of the Great Patriotic War," believes Natalya Filippovich, a keeper of the collection of handwritten partisan journals. She has worked in the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History for 46 years – since 1972.
Krasny Partisan handwritten journal, Issue No.9, September 1942
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© BelTA News Agency, 2018
© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018
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