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 1942-1943, the enemy faced a large-scale partisan movement in the occupied territories. Fragmented groups united to form major units, as large as brigades. At first the German invaders paid little attention to the attacks of partisans. Later they dubbed them the "forest front" and tried to lure partisans over to their side: "Dear partisans, take our side and you will get farms in return!" one of the leaflets distributed at the time read.
Genrikh Brzhozovsky's painting "Partisans". Oil on canvas, 1976
One of such groups, a partisan unit named after Mikhail Kalinin, was set up in Minsk Oblast. It began to take shape in the autumn of 1941 when 16 people led by M. Balan and G. Lozabeyev joined together to fight against the enemy. This period in the life of the squad was recorded in a handwritten journal.
Despite the brutal police terror and persecution, despite dozens of German garrisons around and Gestapo on the lookout, the partisans would sneak into villages to talk to people and encourage them to join their ranks …

Excerpt from the article "How We Came To Be", National Avenger journal, Issue No.3, Kalinin Unit, June 1944
The bitterly cold winter of 1941-1942 and inadequate supply of food and weapons made it very difficult for partisans to go on. Nevertheless, the fight against the enemy never stopped and even gained momentum. Lozabeyev calls these days unbelievably tough as he describes the life of the partisan unit in a journal. No combat operations were undertaken in January-February except for procurement operations that were done at night amidst a snowstorm.
"The oath of allegiance of the Belarusian partisan." National Avenger journal, Issue No. 3, Kalinin Unit, June 1944
In April-May 1942 the partisans welcomed many new members and embarked on new operations. It was quite a challenging period for the partisans. On 15 May, two German divisions encircled the partisan unit in the forest section called Wolf's Island. The engagement lasted eight hours. According to reconnaissance, the Germans lost three hundred soldiers and policemen.
In the photo: Konstantin Vrublevsky, a platoon commander of the Kalinin Unit. Portrait by G. Brzhozovsky, 1943
"Unlimber the machine guns," Kim shouted an order.

"Faster, move them faster, bring those machine guns. What's the holdup?" several voices picked up the tune at once…

Fearing machine gun fire, the police chief jumped out of the attic and nearly landed on top of Anatoly Oleinik, the present commander of the partisan unit…

Excerpt from the short story Assault, National Avenger journal, Issue No. 3, Kalinin Unit, June 1944
One of the combat operations was described by platoon commander Konstantin Vrublevsky in his short story Assault. The partisans surrounded the house with the head of a German gendarmerie, a police chief and his assistant inside. The Germans were armed with assault rifles, while the partisans only had simple guns. Vrublevsky praises the partisans' resourcefulness that helped them out when they were outarmed by the enemy.
The Kalinin Unit was completely manned in March 1943 thanks to partisans detached by the K.Y. Voroshilov partisan unit of the 2nd Minsk Partisan Brigade. The new unit acted independently till December and then became a partisan brigade named after Mikhail Kalinin.

In March 1944 after the Kalinin Brigade was disbanded, some of the fighters joined together to form a partisan unit named after Mikhail Kalinin. In the period the journal was published, the unit's commanding officer was Anatoly Oleinik, the political officer – Piotr Sachek, and the chief of the staff – Ivan Milyutin.
Anatoly Oleinik, commanding officer of the S. Ordzhonikidze Unit of the Kalinin Brigade. Portrait by G.F. Brzhozovsky, 1944
Piotr Sachek joined the unit in March 1942. He moved up the ranks from a demolition man to the commissar of the unit and the brigade. Two large enemy garrisons Zazerye and Dukora were destroyed under his command.

Anatoly Oleinik was the commander of the unit who took the lead of a sabotage group that performed eight explosion missions on the rails.

Ivan Milyutin joined the partisans in February 1942. He was part of the sabotage unit, took part in ambushes and head-on engagements.

Excerpt from the article "Party Organization Growth", National Avenger journal, Issue No. 3, Kalinin Unit, June 1944

The issue was supplemented with the portraits of the partisans, made by Genrikh Brzhozovsky. In July 1944 Genrikh Brzhozovsky was employed by the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History to help develop the first museum exposition.
A postwar photo of Genrikh Brzhozovsky, a partisan, an artist of the Kalinin Unit of Minsk Oblast. Photo from the museum's archives
The Kalinin Unit was in action in the Rudensk, Pukhovichi, Minsk, Staryye Dorogi and Dzerzhinsk districts of Minsk Oblast. The unit joined the Red Army on 29 June 1944.
National Avenger journal, Issue No. 3, Kalinin Unit, June 1944
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