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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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NIKOLAI GURLO'S SATIRE AND HUMOR
In June 1941 the German army was advancing rapidly into the Soviet Union. Within a few days after the beginning of the war Luftwaffe bombers turned Minsk into ruins. The city, which was captured by the Germans, was up in flames…

"Wandering through the city debris, Nikolai Gurlo vowed to never forgive and to retaliate against fascists. As one of many Soviet patriots he began his fight against the fascism from the early days of the war," reads an article dedicated to the Belarusian artist and participant of the Great Patriotic War Nikolai Gurlo in the Partisan Fight journal (Issue No.1) of the Kalinin unit of the Pravda Newspaper Brigade dated October 1943.
Reference: Nikolai Gurlo was born in the town of Kamenskoye, Dnepropetrovsk Oblast on 15 May 1914. Graphic artist. Member of the Belarusian Union of Artists. Specialized in poster and book illustrations. Collaborated with magazines and newspapers. Member of the partisan movement during the Great Patriotic War. Awarded an Order of the Red Star, medals, an Honorary Certificate of the Supreme Council of the BSSR. Died on 4 September 1980.

From the beginning of the war till 1943 Nikolai Gurlo actively fought against fascists first as part of the Minsk underground resistance group Tatyana and then as a member of the partisan movement. His time with the underground resistance movement before joining the unit was detailed in the article Taking a Revenge on Fascists in the Our Heroes column.
"He takes out his receiver, gets the latest news from the front and distributes it among Minsk residents. Living close to POW camps, he contacts former soldiers, commanders, political officers of the Red Army and helps many of them to escape. He works hard to provide Soviet patriots with proper identification papers.

An excerpt from Partisan Fight journal of the M.I. Kalinin partisan unit, Pravda Newspaper Brigade, Issue No.1, October 1943
Nikolai Gurlo's portrait drawn by his daughter Nina, 1994
Nikolai Gurlo kept in touch with a partisan group in Logoisk, Minsk Oblast. He used his father and a messenger to pass Sovinformburo news and also weapons to partisans. In one of the missions Gurlo's father was killed by a traitor. In the spring of 1943 Nikolai and his brother were arrested.

On the way to a slave labor camp in Germany he helped some 20 people escape. He managed to run away himself. In early June 1943, Nikolai Gurlo joined partisans to continue the fight against the Nazi invaders as a soldier and an artist.
Preparation of the Avenger journal, 1944. Nikolai Gurlo (right). Photo from the museum's archives
Over 100 sketches and a gallery of portraits of comrades-in-arms – Gurlo's works represent a unique artistic chronicle of the life and struggle of the partisans. Satirical pictures make up a significant part of the artist's wartime creations.
The original Belarusian painter Nikolai Gurlo earned a reputation as a master of political and everyday satire on pages of the first issue Forward and the second issue Avenger of the handwritten journals released by the Pravda Newspaper partisan brigade.
Nikolai Gurlo's caricatures and comics are filled with humor and vivid fantasy, sorrow and hope. The amalgamation of literature and pictorial language enhances the damnatory and satirical aspects of his sketches.
Photo from the museum's archives
The reflection of the history of the partisan war in the form of artistic imagery is present in every handwritten journal. Reporter drawings are also seen as pages in the war-torn fates of Belarusian artists.
Partisan handwritten books contain over 3,000 illustrations. They were drawn by amateur artists and professionals, including Genrikh Brzhozovsky, Sergei Romanov, Vladimir Sukhoverkhy, and Nikolai Gurlo.
In the editorial office of the Vozhyk magazine. Nikolai Gurlo, second from left, 1958. Photo from the museum's archives
After the war Nikolai Gurlo continued his artistic career. For 35 years he was one of the top illustrators of the satire and humor magazine Vozhyk. The works created for the magazine demonstrate his genuine aptitude for political and everyday satire.
Forward literary and art journal, Issue No. 1, April 1944
To be continued...
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© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018
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