Watermelons from 1944…
Fraternal friendship of Belarusian and Turkmen nations strengthened during the Great Patriotic War
Fraternal friendship of Belarusian and Turkmen nations strengthened during the Great Patriotic War.
Fraternal Belarus established close and friendly relations with Turkmenistan in its joint Soviet Union past, when we lived as a single family: Belarusians and Turkmens visited and helped each other, even undertaking military service on the territory of both republics. Their strong ties strengthened further during the Great Patriotic War.
At that time, it was not only Russia under fire and suffering grief: Germans occupied Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States. It was clear that the enemy was strong, being well-equipped and seemingly heartless. How would we have eventually claimed victory without standing together? The Motherland called upon all its sons — of all nationalities— to join efforts in helping each other.
In those dramatic years, over 300,000 Turkmen soldiers and officers fought against the fascists along-side Belarusians, Russians and other nations. Not long ago, the Memory book was published in Ash-gabat, detailing those killed on Belarusian territory. Unsurprisingly, there is a street named after the USSR Hero — Oraz Annaev — in Minsk. Many Turkmens died while liberating Belarus: in fights for Mo-gilev, Mozyr, Loev, Kalinkovichi and Minsk. The supreme award (of USSR Hero) was presented to Oraz Annaev and Klychniyaz Azalov.
After Belarus’ liberation from the fascists, Turkmenistan helped Belarusians restore their life, giving all possible aid. They shared the last loaf of bread — as confirmed by a book entitled Turkmenistan During the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), published in 1962, using archive materials.
Its documents include Decree #318 of Turkmenistan’s Central Committee Bureau on the Dispatch of Echelon with Presents for Minsk Workers (of September 5th, 1944). The war was in full swing and Turkmenistan was not in the best condition economically. However, the document reads:
1. To permit Turkmenistan’s Central Committee of Lenin Communist Union of Youth to prepare and send an echelon with presents for Minsk workers.
2. The day of dispatch is set for September 15th, 1944.
3. To appoint a delegation to accompany the echelon — led by Ms. Mukhatova, the Head of the Peasant Youth Department at the Central Committee of Lenin Communist Union of Youth.
4. To order the TSSR’s Soviet of People’s Commissars to allocate to the Central Committee of Lenin Communist Union of Youth (for cash payment):
а) consumer goods worth 50,000 Roubles;
b) 1 wagon of window glass;
c) 1 wagon of ‘Gulyabi’ watermelons;
d) 12,200 kg of grain;
e) 1,755 of livestock; and
f) 4,500 kg of fish.
5. To oblige Ashgabat Railway to render 15 empty wagons and one top class wagon to transport and accompany presents to the destination: Minsk, Belarusian SSR.
This document confirms that similar echelons were sent not only to Minsk but to other Belarusian cit-ies and villages. In those years, and those in the post-war period, our nation saw the value of true friends.
That friendship continues today. Our two states’ presidents, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Alex-ander Lukashenko, have met in Minsk and Ashgabat many times, signing important co-operative doc-uments. Belarusian tractors today operate on Turkmen fields, being exported in great numbers. Moreover, Turkmens are pleased that thousands of their children are able to study at Belarusian uni-versities, taught by highly qualified lecturers. Among them is Candidate of Economic Sciences Leonid Prishchepa, who comments, “I’m always pleased to work with Turkmen students. Moreover, on visit-ing Turkmenistan, I realised that our two states have many historical ties. Following the example of our co-operation during the Great Patriotic War, I’m trying to demonstrate our Belarusian-Turkmen friend-ship, which is vital for the development of relations between our nations. People’s diplomacy has deep roots, as we should always remember.”
The Gulyabi watermelons of 1944 — alongside other Turkmen gifts to Belarusians during the Great Patriotic War (and afterwards) — will never be forgotten.
By Sergey Shichko
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