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.

On 3 July 1944 the troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Byelorussian Fronts burst into Minsk. By the end of the day, the capital of the BSSR was completely liberated from the German invaders. With the liberation of Minsk, the first phase of the Operation Bagration was over. Half-ruined but free, the city was in for great demining effort.

Retreating German troops mined buildings, streets, and houses. Minsk racecourse was among the strategic assets that needed to be demined as soon as possible. The racecourse hosted the first victorious event - a parade of Belarusian partisans featuring more than 30,000 national avengers.
The decision to hold the partisans' parade on the occasion of the liberation of Minsk was taken on 14 July 1944 at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia. The command of the partisan units was instructed to rehearse the festive procession. However, partisans had another important task to fulfill. Moving towards the capital city, the national avengers kept fighting: they cleared the forests and roads on their way from retreating enemy forces and sabotage groups.
By the evening of 15 July more than 30,000 partisans arrived in the city. Those were 30 partisan brigades and 2 separate units, including 20 brigades from Minsk Oblast, 9 brigades from Baranovichi Oblast and one brigade from Vileika Oblast.

The racecourse had already been demined and was protected by the Petrel Brigade. The parade was to be covered from air: fighter jets and anti-air defense were on stand-by. Radio devices and orchestras were borrowed from the army.
Painting by E.A. Zaytsev "The Parade of Partisans in Minsk on 16 July 1944"
At 9:00 on 16 July, Chairman of the Minsk City Council of Deputies Konstantin Budarin opened a rally. The event was attended by a Red Army delegation led by Commander of the 3rd Byelorussian Front, General Ivan Chernyakhovsky. On behalf of the BSSR government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia and Chairman of the BSSR Council of People's Commissars Panteleimon Ponomarenko congratulated workers and partisans on the liberation of Belarus' capital. He also thanked soldiers of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Byelorussian Fronts and the 1st Baltic Front for liberation from the Nazi invaders.
On the podium during the parade (left to right): P.K. Ponomarenko, deputy head of the Belarusian command of partisan movement I.P. Ganenko, and head of the Belarusian command of partisan movement P.Z. Kalinin
After the rally, the partisans solemnly marched past the government stand. Fighters of the Voronyansky National Avengers Partisan Brigade had the honor of opening the parade. They were followed by scouts, demolition experts, machine gunners, and combat medics…

From recollections of Vasily Morokhovich, a member of the Kommunar Unit, Uncle Kolya's Brigade of Minsk Oblast:
"Minsk saw a great parade, unprecedented in its history. Partisans marched past destroyed and burned houses of the city. Partisans carried an amazing collection of weapons including those handmade in the forest smitheries. We were excited to see so much admiration. We walked proudly, with medals on our chests."
Nearly 50,000 residents of the city took part in the parade. People dressed in their best clothes marched after the national avengers. The parade was followed by 900 riders on horseback.
The partisan parade in the Belarusian capital lasted for several hours. A salute from 300 cannons at 22.00 wrapped up the celebration of the first big victory event in the half-destroyed but free Minsk. However, more battles were still ahead. The fascists had to be ousted from the motherland for good.
Iskra journal, Issue No. 2, Iskra Unit, Razgrom Brigade, January 1944
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