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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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MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS IN THE ENEMY'S REAR
"We are celebrating 1 May 1944 at a time when the German invaders are being massively ridden off from the territory of our Motherland."

Excerpt from a combat leaflet of company No.2, Fight Unit, Voronyansky National Avengers Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1 May 1944

"The peoples of our country, the Red Army, and partisans are celebrating the international holiday of 1 May anticipating the imminent and complete defeat of the Nazi German invaders."




Excerpt from For Motherland handwritten journal, Issue No. 6, Communist Party and Komsomol division, HQ company, Stalin Regiment No. 208
1 May was celebrated across the country in the wartime 1940s. The holiday was widely marked by both partisans and civilians. Villages and forest camps held assemblies and meetings to hear addresses from the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, the orders of Commander-in-Chief Joseph Stalin and the addresses of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belorussia to the people.
Photo from the museum's archives
At the festive events dedicated to 1 May, peasants pledged to help partisans in the fight against the invaders, to finish the planting season in time and to welcome the liberating Red Army in style. The holiday was celebrated in the occupied zone, too. For example, in the town of Uzda patriots hoisted out 12 red flags on buildings.
Photo from the museum's archives
In the run-up to the holiday, socialist competitions were announced among partisans and villagers. One of such competitions in Bialystok Oblast resulted in derailing 47 enemy echelons heading for the frontline. Socialist competitions were featured in May Day partisan leaflets, newspaper and handwritten journals.
"We, partisans, are facing quite ambitious tasks in this great war for liberation. We need to increase the scale of the May Day competition. To this end, it is necessary to conclude socialist agreements between platoons, divisions and individual fighters. We need to improve combat readiness and to raise political awareness of the division in general".

Excerpt from the article "Let's join the pre-May-Day socialist competition", For Motherland handwritten journal, Issue No. 5, Communist Party and Komsomol division, HQ company, Stalin Regiment No. 208
Despite limited resources, members of the editorial board tried to enhance leaflets, handwritten journals and magazines with festive design solutions.
The editions attracted readers not only with their content, but the look as well. Amateurs and professional painters worked to make them look good.

The former secretary for patriotism promotion and morale boosting of the Vileika District Underground Committee of Belarus' Komsomol Viktor Shimanovich recalls that morale-boosting brigades were most effective at working with the local residents and partisans. The Vileika Oblast Morale-Boosting Unit named after A.M. Gorky was set up in early 1944. It performed before the locals 35 times within half a year.
Belarusian partisans at leisure, 1944 Photo from the museum's archives
Most often, concerts marked public holidays. Coming to a village, members of a morale-boosting unit unhinged the door of a big shed and used it as an improvised stage. The partisans' cart frequently served the same purpose.
Viktor Shimanovich's caricatures. From the funds of the museum
Viktor Shimanovich, for example, drew caricatures of Hitler soldiers and their allies for the performances. Such illustrations enjoyed great popularity. Viktor Shimanovich recalls that 1st Secretary of the Vileika Oblast Underground Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League Piotr Masherov and Secretary of the Vileika Oblast Underground Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus Aleksandr Monakhov helped choose the themes.
The morale-boosting unit of Vileika Oblast produced more than 50 caricatures (10-50 copies each). They were shown during the performance of ditties and satirical verses that praised the heroism of Soviet soldiers and ridiculed the fascists. Such performances served as a powerful tool of political propaganda and morale boosting.
For Motherland handwritten journal, Issue No. 6, 1 May 1944
For Motherland handwritten journal, Issue No. 5, 1944
To be continued...
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© BelTA News Agency, 2018
© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018
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