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.

"... In the first days of the war I lost everything I lived for: my job, friends and the most precious thing - my son who just graduated from school. I left everything behind in Bialystok. Where is he? What's with him? My head was spinning from all these questions ... "
When the war broke out Aleksandra Zakharova was 10 kilometers away from the border. A lecturer with the Bialystok Communist Party regional committee, she was giving lectures in the frontier regions. The road back to Bialystok where she left her son Zhenya, was cut off. She managed to get to the village of Vorotyn in Bobruisk region where she worked hard for a piece of bread. And then Aleksandra Zakharova began her fight against the enemy: she trained youth for the partisan movement, took part in battles against the German troops together with national avengers and saved the wounded.
This part of the Partisan Chronicle tells about the partisan regiment of Rogachev Partisan Brigade No.8 and its first commissioner Aleksandra Zakharova.

"The partisan movement during the Great Patriotic War is bigger than during previous wars. More people join partisans, including women who perform miracles of selflessness… Peasants, workers, intellectuals - members of partisan groups show great skills in using all means of combat which makes the German command feel unwell…"

Excerpt from the Komsomol of Rogachev District partisan journal, Issue No.1, December 1943
Secretary of the Brest Underground Regional Committee of the Communist Party Sergei Sikorsky thanks kolkhoz worker Maria Shish and her three sons who fought in partisan units. Photo by BelTA
"Reserved, persistent. Comrade Zakharova carried out awareness raising activities among partisans and civilians with extraordinary pertinacity. Utilizing all her skills and knowledge she instilled confidence in the victory over the enemy. Following Bolshevik principles she was persistent in bringing up and promoting young political workers. She enjoyed great respect of all members of partisan units from Rogachev District," reads a reference letter for Aleksandra Zakharova.

Self-made knife, a gift from partisans to Aleksandra Zakharova
Ticket for the lecture by Commissioner Zakharova, 1944
Aleksandra Zakharova (right), 1944
"I had to use both word and deed. A rifle stood next to a pencil and a notebook. I joined partisans in their battles, shared all hardships of a partisan life with them. Later on I was chosen to be secretary of a party organization at one of partisan units of Rogachev Brigade No.8 and on 1 November 1943 I was appointed commissar of Regiment No.255. At the first meeting I suggested creating a banner of the regiment. We had to make it on our own. It was with great difficulty that we found fragmented pieces of red fabric. We painted them in the same shade. We got only white threads, so we used acrichine (antimalarial powder) to get the necessary golden color…"

From the memoirs of Aleksandra Zakharova
Aleksandra Zakharova. Drawing by Sergei Romanov, 1944
The banner was solemnly presented to the regiment in a forest in Rogachev District in late November.

Banner of Rogachev Brigade No. 8, Regiment No. 255
"Our fellow partisan was an artist. He painted the emblem and all the words. A group of partisan girls embroidered it. Partisans swore on this banner. They took it into battles. It was shot through by a bullet … and all of that happened in Ozerany forests in Rogachev District near the village of Zalitvinye".

From the memoirs of Aleksandra Zakharova
Banner embroiderer
The sketch of Regiment No. 225 banner was drawn by painter Sergei Romanov, who later became a BSSR honored art worker. A native of Moscow, he finished an art teacher eduction college and was drafted right before the war.

Defensive actions near Kiev in 1941, the bitter taste of the encirclement, retreat and capture in 1942, escape from the Nazi death camp and fight against the enemy as part of the Belarusian partisan movement… Sergei Romanov's art was inspired by the experience of the war. When he joined Rogachev Partisan Brigade No.8, he took care of issuing the handwritten journal Komsomol of Rogachev District, combat leaflets, and wallpapers.

Despite the hardships of the war the handwritten journals always contained a bit of humor. Sergei Romanov was excellent at drawing political cartoons. Ranging from barely noticeable sarcasm to vividly blunt posters, his satirical skills were prominent on pages of the handwritten journal and the humor magazine Vozhyk where he worked for over 30 years after the war.
Sergei Romanov. Self portrait, 1944
Preparations for a combat assignment. Gomel Oblast, 1944. Photo from the museum's archives
Drawings by Sergei Romanov, 1943
"During the camp bombing, she was wounded in the elbow joint and sent to the Soviet rear for treatment in May 1944. By the decision of the Rogachev Communist Party of Belarus a petition was launched to award the Order of the Red Star to comrade Zakharova.

From Aleksandra Zakharova's personal record

While in hospital, Aleksandra Zakharova learned about the Order of Lenin and also about her son. He managed to cross the frontline, joined the army and was fighting against the enemy.

After the war Aleksandra Zakharova held a number of important political posts in the country. She was Deputy Chairwoman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the BSSR.

Aleksandra Zakharova's dress made in the partisan workshop has a yellow cloth stripe indicating that she was wounded
Partisan Camp, a picture embroidered by Aleksandra Zakharova in memory of the military past
Handwritten journal Komsomol of Rogachev District, Issue No. 1, 1943
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© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018