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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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In October 1941 the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper received a letter from the commander of the unit to which its war correspondent Mikhail Ananin was assigned. The letter notified that the correspondent was killed in an enemy attack at Viazma. But it turned out later that Mikhail Ananin was not killed but badly wounded and taken prisoner by the enemy...
WAR CORRESPONDENT MIKHAIL ANANIN
Mikhail Ananin, 1941. Photo from the museum's archives
The new part of the Partisan Chronicles is dedicated to the first issue of the National Avenger typewritten-handwritten journal of Minsk Partisan Brigade No. 3 dated September 1943. The museum received the journal in 1953 from Mikhail Ananin, the photojournalist who was presumed dead in 1941…
Mikhail Ananin's photos were often printed in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in the prewar time. When the war broke out the photographer was in Riga on a work assignment. Later Mikhail Ananin became a Komsomolskaya Pravda war correspondent on the western front.
Photo from the museum's archives
In October 1941 the heavily wounded Mikhail Ananin was in captivity. He made an attempt at escape but failed. He was sent to a concentration camp in Minsk. In December when a group of POWs was led to a railway station, he made another attempt and succeeded. After that he joined the Minsk underground movement.
"Mikhail Ananin came to us on 6 December 1941 from a POW hospital, badly wounded and exhausted from hunger and tortures he was subjected to… During that difficult time that he was with us he showed exceptional courage and resourcefulness…"

From Mikhail Ananin's personal file
In the spring of 1942 Mikhail Ananin joined an underground organization which operated at the Krupskaya garment factory. In the spring of 1943 he became a political instructor and the Communist Party organizer in the Voroshilov unit of Minsk Partisan Brigade No. 3. He and his unit would get rounded up, participate in battles but in any circumstances, he would always keep the most precious Communist Party symbol – a party membership card.
"Work in the underground became harder and harder every day. Life was getting unbearable. In April 1943 Comrade Ananin and his comrades-in-arms got weapons and escaped to Belarusian forests where they joined national avengers… Ananin fought shoulder-to-shoulder with partisans for sixteen months. Over this time he showed courage, loyalty to the Bolshevik Party and his Soviet Motherland".

From Mikhail Ananin's personal file
Before leaving for a combat operation, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
Mikhail Ananin took part in four partisan battles near Pukhovichi and Shatsk. Once Germans attempted to seize a bridge across the Ptich River near the village of Zarechie and opened a heavy fire on a group of partisans sitting in ambush. Political instructor Ananin was heavily wounded, but he stayed in the battlefield holding positions till the arrival of reinforcement. In November 1943 the command of the brigade recommended advancing Mikhail Ananin to the rank of lieutenant and awarding him the Order of the Red Banner.
After that he took part in several fierce battles to free Belarus from the Nazis and was gravely injured near the village of Lipniki in the summer of 1944. After the recovery he resumed his work as a photo journalist at the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
When the war was over, photojournalist Mikhail Ananin became member of the Union of Journalists of the USSR, he was awarded the title of the BSSR Merited Worker of Culture. The Belarus Publishing House issued his illustrated books Brest Hero Fortress, Khatyn, Belovezhskaya Pushcha, For The Love Of Life that brought him nationwide recognition.
Mikhail Ananin, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
Khatyn Memorial. Photo by Mikhail Ananin, BelTA, 1973
Workers. Photo by Mikhail Ananin, BelTA, 1973
Rassvet collective farm, Mogilev Region. Photo by Mikhail Ananin, BelTA, 1955
Handwritten partisan journals are a unique historical source: they published resolutions of the Supreme Command, Sovinformburo bulletins and, naturally, everything that had to do with the partisan movement. Thanks to them, we have a unique opportunity to imagine how partisan rallies were held.
After Sovinformburo informed on 8 September 1943 about the victory of the Red Army and its allies over the fascists in the Donbass and unconditional surrender of Italy, the partisans hurried to discuss this important and encouraging news. A kind of scenario of this event titled "Our rally" is described in the journal:
Photos made by Mikhail Ananin provide an important account of partisan rallies, gatherings, planning sessions and discussions of combat operations.
Discussing a combat operation, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
WE WILL NEVER FORGET
"…History has never seen murders on such a massive scale as those perpetrated by the German invaders. With extreme cruelty they take advantage of the helplessness of old people. They cannot be stopped by children begging for mercy… A message from the German command has been found on the body of a German lieutenant. It reads: 'Kill every Russian and every Soviet. Don't hesitate if you have to kill an old person or a woman, a girl or a boy. By killing them, you save yourself, you secure a future for your family and eternal glory…'"

An excerpt from the National Avenger journal, Issue No.1, 1943
Every year the number of those who saw the murderous atrocities of fascist executioners in Belarus dwindles. But the nation will never forget them. The article about fascist atrocities publishes recollections of partisans.
A punitive unit arrived in the village of Rybtsy, Rudensk District, Minsk Oblast, on 3 January 1943. The fascists murdered 157 people and burnt them in their homes…
"The partisan Motya Kaspirovich recalls: 'I was in my home. A group of Germans entered. My six-month old Kolya was lying in his cradle. The fascist killed him. My seven-year-old daughter Galya started begging him: "Don't shoot me, mister, I am innocent", but the fascist killed her, too. My second daughter, three-year-old Toma started crying. The fascist fired a burst of several rounds into the girl's head. Meanwhile, I was hiding on top of the stove in mortal fear… The German fired a burst, my arm and my side were wounded. He thought I was dead. Leaving the house, he set it on fire. I managed to escape into the backyard and hide…'"

An excerpt from the journal National Avenger, Issue No.1, 1943
It was impossible to hide the genuine anti-humane nature of fascism from people. Even religious inscriptions on the enemy's gear didn't help. The enemy used the inscriptions to justify the atrocities. Partisan reporters concisely describe the true essence of the Nazi barbarians.
"The name of the God is written on the belt of every German soldier. Hitler wanted to use it to cover the bandit face of his Satan-spawned godless army… The Germans burnt churches and temples without even taking out the icons. The Germans entered churches without taking off their headgear, violating every principle of the holy church…"

Excerpt from the National Avenger journal, Issue No.1, 1943
Partisans listening to a news report of Sovinformburo, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
Even the war could not extinguish a creative spark in talented people. Partisan songwriter Nikolai Fedulin presented an ironic interpretation of the most important international events of the time in his parody Rommel Reporting to Hitler on the Completion of the Campaign in Africa. The emotional impact on readers was indisputable.
Nikolai Fedulin's poems were put not only on paper, but also to music.
Reading an order, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
"With a great delight we have listened to the reciting of the partisan journal National Avenger. It portrays everything we have seen and lived through. We are proud that despite Hitler's efforts to destroy the Soviet people, we keep on living, fighting and developing our culture. The journal demonstrates the partisans' fighting spirit, love to the Motherland and confidence in a near victory over the Nazis".

Excerpt from the People's Avenger journal, Issue No.1, 1943
Today, after many years, it is not always possible to fully understand the atmosphere of that tragic and heroic time. Soldiers were the most impartial readers and objective critics of partisan journals. It was the partisans who were the living witnesses and participants of events, invaluable memories of which are kept in the museum collections today.
Handwritten partisan journal National Avenger, Issue No. 1, 1943
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© BelTA News Agency, 2018
© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018
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