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 autumn of 1943 when the Red Army was a short distance away from Belarus the German occupation authorities were preparing to expropriate peasants' food supplies. The situation for the Wehrmacht got dramatically worse. Hitler's army was in bad need of food.

Communist Party district committees and primary organizations and partisan units were tasked with keeping the harvest safe and disrupting enemy food procurement operations. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belorussia issued relevant resolution "On the harvest of 1943".

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belorussia called on all forces to assist peasants with harvesting, to attack German convoys carrying grain, to hide it better from the enemy. It also urged people to fight for every piece of Belarusian bread.
The struggle for bread is the fight for victory! No single gram of bread should be left over to the enemy! Save the bread for the Red Army! Along with the news of the approaching Soviet troops, leaflets distributed by the underground regional committees reinforced popular resistance behind the enemy lines. People tried to harvest grain crops faster, to stash it away from the invaders. Partisan groups organized armed guards during grain crop harvesting in the fields.
Harvesting season 1943 was one of the most difficult during the war, members of the Kalinin Unit of the Pravda Newspaper Brigade wrote in handwritten journal No. 1 in October 1943. There was a great demand for food among villagers, army and partisan units. The grain procurement plan had to include a significant portion of settlements located in close vicinity of German garrisons.
"The most difficult part was to deliver grain to the partisan camp. Absolutely all grain procurement facilities were located on the other side of the Svisloch River, which was a natural boundary between the area controlled by the partisans and the zone occupied by Germans. There were no bridges, no ferries. The only way to cross the river was by using unreliable boats. Grain procurement facilities were located 1-3km away from German garrisons, which was the biggest challenge for grain procurement operations. Partisans had to get to the grain virtually under the Nazi nose and take it across the river by wobbly canoes".

Excerpt from the Partisan Fight journal, Issue No.1, Pravda Newspaper Brigade, Kalinin Unit, October 1943
Grain procurement operations were considered combat assignments and each of them was led personally by the commander. Each partisan unit was responsible for a particular area. Fighters arranged for crop harvesting, threshing and distribution of grain among peasants. Some part of the grain was kept by partisans and laid aside for the Red Army. Each community and each household were to fulfill certain grain procurement targets. Upon handing over their portion of grain, peasants received certificates confirming the delivery.

"Our combat groups had to accompany grain carts to the river under German searchlights located on the Pukhovichi airfield," wrote partisans of the Kalinin Unit in a handwritten journal. During the 1943 harvesting season, these partisans accomplished grain procurement tasks in seven villages. At night peasants would put grain on carts and take them to the river where the grain was taken over by partisans and brought to the camp.
Photo from the museum's archives
"The third spring of the war! But a part of the blue sky can be seen through clouds of smoke! This third spring should be a spring of the Motherland!

"One year ago we were expecting an offensive of the German army. We were thinking about ways to repulse the enemy. Now we are thinking about a different thing: it is necessary to finish off the Germans! The battle of Kursk and the Dnieper are behind us. Dead German divisions lie behind us…"

Excerpt from the handwritten journal, Issue No.1, Bolshevik Partisan Unit, Belarus Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
The Soviet army launched a confident offensive against the enemy in spring 1944. Units of the 1st Belorussian Front, the 1st Baltic Front, and the Western Front (the 3rd Belorussian Front) entered Belarus and freed nearly all of Gomel Oblast, considerable parts of Polesie Oblast, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mogilev Oblast. Yet the enemy did not surrender. Preserving winter crops and sowing spring crops became a number one priority for people living in the occupied territories. Agriculture was totally destroyed in the three years of the war. People would surely die without food.
Photo from the museum's archives
"Lohit Devanagari"; font-size: 12pt; } "It is difficult to imagine the full scale of destruction of agriculture. All the tools and machines have been burned or broken. No draught force is available. German authorities know well that they will not stay here for long and will take every measure to disrupt the sowing campaign. They understand that the nation and the army will be threatened by the lack of physical infrastructure and food. This is why we, partisans, face a major task: help peasants repair their agricultural tools, protect workers with arms where necessary in order to give them an opportunity to complete the planting campaign."

Excerpt from the handwritten journal, Issue No.1, Bolshevik Partisan Unit, Belarus Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
Spring in the Partisan Zone, S.Romanov, 1980
Special measures for the spring sowing season were laid out in a letter of instruction written by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belorussia and the government for underground party bodies and commanders of partisan units in April 1944. It said that it was vital to unite efforts to prepare as much sowing area as possible. Party members and partisan commanders were instructed to talk to the locals, send armed soldiers to help with field work and protect the fields from the enemy.
In spring 1944 partisans could be seen in almost every village: in fields, gardens, and blacksmith shops. Some plowed land, others repaired inventory or patrolled the area. The Red Army men also provided assistance. The spring sowing plan was met in full. Out of 333,000 hectares, some 236,678 hectares (70%) were plowed by horses, 74,600 by tractors, and 21,722 hectares by hand.

Farmers, partisans and the Red Army soldiers won a difficult spring sowing battle in 1944. There was, however, another battle ahead - to liberate Belarus.
Photo from the museum's archives
"We saw pits and ditches filled with children's corpses. We saw the blood and tears of mothers. Our outrage is taking us to the west. Our people will not forget this, will not calm down. We know that Odessa is already smiling. But Pskov is still in tears. Vitebsk is also in the enemy's hands. The Nazis are still tormenting Mogilev and Minsk. We will not calm down until the fascists are destroyed!

For the spring of our Motherland! For the happiness of the loved ones!"

Excerpt from the handwritten journal, Issue No.1, Bolshevik Partisan Unit, Belarus Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
Partisan Fight handwritten journal, Issue No.1, October 1943
Bolshevik handwritten journal, Issue No.1, May 1944
The website assets or a selection of assets, parts of the design and the layout can be used only upon authorization of the copyright holder and with reference to the source: www.belta.by
© BelTA News Agency, 2018
© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018