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.

Member of the Plamya [Flame] Partisan Unit Zinaida Akulchik. Plamya magazine, Issue No. 4, Plamya Unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
"I ask the primary Komsomol organization to recommend me as a candidate for membership in the All-Union Communist Party of Belarus because I wish to be in the ranks of the party members and fight against the enemy without sparing my life."

Statement by Komsomol member Zinaida Akulchik, Plamya Unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
Zinaida Akulchik was one of 63 women who joined Plamya Brigade. Among them were couriers and scouts, demolition experts and nurses, Communist Party organizers and workers of print shops. Anastasia Boyeshko participated in all large combat operations of the partisan unit: she took part in the battle with the numerically superior enemy.
Photo from the museum's archives
"In addition to selfless labor in the Soviet rear and engagement in battles on the front line, our women contribute a lot to the partisan movement. Thanks to their tireless housekeeping work we are provided with timely and good meals... But members of the Plamya Unit perform not only housekeeping jobs. They take part in combat operations."

Excerpt from Patriot Women of the Plamya Unit in the Belarusian Partisan newspaper, 8 March 1944
They fought on a par with men, collected weapons, procured medicines and foodstuffs. They also undertook a great number of support functions. 70,000 women in Belarus joined the fight against the enemy, accounting for about 19% of all partisans.
Female partisans at the halt, Minsk Oblast, 1943. Photo from the museum's archives
"Women showed outstanding patriotism and courage in the front line and in the rear. They built barricades near Leningrad and Sevastopol, dug out anti-tank ditches near Moscow, extinguished fires, worked at factories under bombardment, carried wounded soldiers from the battlefield amidst the shower of bullets…"

Excerpt from the Women's Day article in the Bobruisk Partisan newspaper, 8 March 1943
The women had to be rough and tough all the time. They could not drop their guard even on the International Women's Day. On this day underground newspapers, combat leaflets and handwritten partisan journals praised women's strength and their great performance in combat roles and celebrated the best fighters.
"We, women of the Pobeda Unit, pledged to study rifles by 8 March. We also promise to study other types of weapons available."

Excerpt from combat leaflet No.2, Pobeda Unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 8 March 1944
In a festive issue of the Plamya handwritten journal the partisan artists Sukhoverkhov, Brzhozovsky, Dyatlov, Kozlov, and Repin placed an entire gallery of portraits of female partisans.
Partisan of the Plamya Brigade V.B. Filipskikh (Dyatko). Photo from the museum's archives
A drawing of the women's dugout home in the Plamya Unit by S.D. Li, 1943
"Soviet women stand shoulder to shoulder with men with weapons in their hands and fight fascist invaders, driving them off from our sacred land. Tank crewwomen, aircraft pilots, machine gunners, partisans – this is what the enemy saw as it (they) looked at Soviet mothers, wives, and girlfriends…"

Excerpt from the Plamya journal, Issue No.4, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, March-April 1944
Six female commissars, two female chiefs of staff, 570 female doctors and over 2,000 nurses were part of partisan units in Belarus. Many of them received awards. Secretary of the Turov District Committee of the Komsomol Anna Shubenko, a partisan of the Yurchenko Unit Anna Ivanova were awarded medals for courage. Maria Burdyko, a partisan from the Kirov Brigade, was awarded the Order of the Red Star for valor and courage.
"For valor and courage in combat against German invaders, for care for people the Komsomol member and Communist Party candidate, comrade Burdyko received a well-deserved Order of the Red Star from the government."

Excerpt from an article about partisan Maria Burdyko from the Kirovets handwritten journal, Kirov Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
"She accompanied the troops in every mission. She took part in five ambushes, helped destroy two Nazi garrisons and participated in battles. Comrade Ivanova was decorated with two letters of commendation and the medal for courage."

Excerpt from an article about partisan Anna Ivanova from the Udar S Tyla handwritten journal, Issue No.2, Yurchenko Unit, 1st Minsk Brigade, January 1944
Personal record of Anna Ivanova, a nurse of Yurchenko Unit, Minsk Oblast, 11 June 1944
"She took part in all missions of the brigade and the unit. She used to be the first in the subversive group to take a bold step towards the rails to set a bomb. She never panicked…"

Excerpt from an article about partisan Nadezhda Sorochinskaya from the Kirovets handwritten journal, Kirov Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
Female partisans of the Suvorov Unit of the National Avengers Brigade, Minsk Oblast, take part in the parade of partisans in Minsk, 10 July 1944. A.Pivovarchik, T.Kapustinskaya, L.Gustarnik, N.Drozdovich. Photo from the museum's archives
None of the previous wars saw wider participation of women than the Great Patriotic War did. Together with men they fought on the front lines and as part of partisan units, worked in the rear. Nine women – members of the partisan movement in Belarus – were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title, four of them posthumously.
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© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018