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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 late 1943, in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of proclamation of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, several partisan brigades were renamed in honor of the remarkable occasion. Despite the hard times of the war, the 25th anniversary was widely celebrated both in the liberated parts of Belarus and in partisan units in January 1944.
PARTISAN CHRONICLES:
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BSSR

Oath taking in the Grozny Unit of the brigade named in honor of 25 years of the BSSR, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
Rally-parade of partisans in the Razgrom Unit, January 1944
By order of the Commissioner of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the BSSR and the Belarusian command of the partisan movement for Baranovichi Oblast, the units Grozny, Kotovsky and Budyonny were merged into the 25 Years of the BSSR Brigade. It acted in Gorodishche District and Korelichi District. The name "25 years of the BSSR" was assigned to Oktyabrskaya Brigade No. 123 of Polesie Oblast.
Command staff of the Chkalov Brigade after a rally to mark 25 years of the BSSR, January 1944. Photo from the museum's archives
In the run-up to the anniversary celebrations, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the BSSR Panteleimon Ponomarenko sent a telegram to commanders and commissars. He recommended increasing pressure on the enemy and issuing journals and leaflets dedicated to the anniversary celebrations.
Such a telegram was sent to Commissar of the Slava (Glory) Partisan Unit Kliment Zhuk. The command of the Plamya Brigade of Minsk Oblast tasked him with issuing a special edition of the National Avenger handwritten journal that is now kept at the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History.
"Today we are marking 25 years since the proclamation of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. On 1 January 1919 Belarusians opened up a new page in their history thus becoming architects of their own fortune…"
Excerpt from the National Avenger handwritten journal, Issue No. 1, Slava Partisan Unit, January 1944
Top-ranking officers of the Budyonny Unit of the 25 Years of the BSSR Brigade, December 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
The journal describes daily life and combat operations of the partisans, quotes propaganda materials and calls to hammer the enemy.
Articles from the National Avenger handwritten journal, Issue No. 1, Slava Partisan Unit, January 1944
The fiction part of the journal contains multiple pages with drawn or painted illustrations. Those are New Year greetings, caricatures of the enemy, and ironical pictures.
Pages of the National Avenger handwritten journal, Issue No. 1, Slava Partisan Unit, January 1944
The 25th anniversary since the BSSR's founding was celebrated on the frontline and in the Soviet rear alike. A jubilee session of the BSSR Academy of Sciences took place in Moscow in January 1944. Fruitful work of representatives of agricultural science was praised. Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of Belarus Ivan Krupenya had been invited to participate in the session.
Note: Ivan Krupenya is a Soviet statesman, Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (1941–1946). He was Deputy Head of the Belarusian Command of Partisan Movement (1942), Minister of Agriculture of the BSSR (1943–1947).
Ivan Krupenya, 1946. Photo from the museum's archives
A meeting of the Gomel Oblast and Gomel City Council of Workers' Deputies together with representatives of the party and public organizations and the Red Army took place in the liberated BSSR in January 1944.
1 January 2019 will mark 100 years since the founding of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. Handwritten journals remind us of the profound significance of the date in the history of modern Belarus. Even during the Great Patriotic War in the rear of the enemy, in the frontlines and liberated territories our people celebrated the establishment of the Belarusian statehood, the start of the national revival era.
National Avenger handwritten journal, Issue No. 1, Slava Partisan Unit, January 1944
To be continued...
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© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018
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