Posted: 13.06.2024 12:10:43

Front behind enemy lines

Partisans made a huge contribution to the liberation of our country

In terms of its scale, military and political results, the nationwide resistance movement against the occupiers of the BSSR (Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic) became one of the crucial factors affecting the enemy’s defeat. No wonder Belarus is still called a partisan republic. During its liberation, the people’s avengers provided great assistance to the Red Army troops and, in fact, created a second front behind enemy lines.

Partisan detachment, July 16th, 1944. Minsk  

                                The President of Belarus, 
                             Aleksandr Lukashenko,

“We are proud of the indomitable will of those who did not submit to the anti-human regime, of those who went underground, fought a liberation guerrilla war, and resisted the policy of forced assimilation.”

At the patriotic forum We are Belarusians!, 
on September 17th, 2023

Intelligence reported accurately

In the autumn of 1943, the operational groups of the Byelorussian Headquarters of the Partisan Movement (BHPM) under military councils of the fronts became the centres of planning, co-ordination, and logistical support for the interaction of partisans and Soviet troops. As a result, the Voroshilov detachment, as an example, actively assisted the Red Army in building a crossing over the Dnieper during the liberation of the first regional centre of the BSSR — Komarin, on September 23rd, 1943. The people’s avengers at the offensive lines of our military units struck blows, blocked large enemy garrisons and destroyed small ones, ambushed and blocked roads, as well as disrupted communication lines. 
A brilliant example of operational and tactical co-operation in the liberation of the eastern regions of Byelorussia is the second stage of the ‘rail war’ held in the first two autumn months of 1943, when 90,000 rails were blown up. Enemy echelons were derailed, retreating enemy units were destroyed, and their movement was interrupted.
The intelligence work of underground fighters was carried out in close co-operation with 184 special groups of state security agencies, as well as SMERSH counterintelligence and military intelligence. Thus, since January 20th, 1944, constant monitoring over the deployment of Nazi troops on 19 critical sections of the railway network was established. Special attention was paid to the intelligence on the five frontiers and fortified areas of the Nazi defence constructions, the total length of which was 2,200 km.

Having summarised all the information received, the BHPM intelligence department compiled a detailed map of the enemy’s defensive lines for the Soviet command at the end of June 1944. The location of 28 enemy headquarters, including Army Group Centre, was detected. In addition, the intelligence managed to obtain information about the work of Hitler’s scientists and engineers on V-1 cruise missiles and V-2 ballistic missiles, as well as on the production of jet fighters in Rostock and Brandenburg. From October 1943 to April 1944, 35 partisan brigades and 15 separate detachments with a total strength of more than 50,000 people joined the Red Army units.

A joint blow

The Stavka (General Headquarters) of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief provided for the active participation of Byelorussian partisans in Operation Bagration. By the time it began, there were 150 partisan brigades and 49 separate detachments in the rear of Army Group Centre, numbering more than 140,000 people. 
In June 1944, before the start of the offensive operation Bagration, thousands of acts of sabotage were carried out, which considerably hampered the enemy’s actions. Thus, on the night before the general offensive, a powerful diversionary raid on all important roads deprived the German troops of any control for several days. That fact was admitted by the head of Army Group Centre transport communications, Colonel Hermann Teske.
By the way, a significant number of settlements, including the district centres of Kopyl, Uzda, Starobin, Krasnaya Sloboda, Ostrovets, Karelichi, Svir, Vidzy, were liberated by the partisans on their own. This generally contributed to the high pace of the offensive. Great attention was riveted on the routes used by the enemy for retreat. Many sections of highways and the majority of earth roads were blocked, and attacks on large enemy columns were inflicted on a regular basis. The Zheleznyak partisan detachment particularly distinguished itself, having seized a bridgehead on the Berezina River along a front of 17 km and held it until the arrival of the Red Army units, thus providing the necessary assistance in establishing crossings.
The capture and retention of many river crossings by the people’s avengers, as well as assistance in building log paths in difficult-to-pass places was of paramount importance for the advance of Soviet troops. One of such episodes was vividly embodied in a new feature film Time to Return by the Belarusfilm National Film Studio, the scientific consultants of which were scientists from the Institute of History of Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences. The partisans of Vileika Region alone built 312 bridges and 15 crossings for Soviet troops. In addition, during the liquidation of the Minsk Pocket — a 105,000–strong enemy grouping southeast of Minsk — partisans fought hard with the enemy together with regular units for several days.  

In the parade formation

A column of partisans is going on a parade in liberated Minsk. July 16th, 1944

The idea of holding a partisan parade appeared almost immediately after Minsk liberation, to pay homage to the living soldiers and pay tribute to the memory of those who laid down their lives to turn the fight against the occupiers into a truly nationwide war. 
Already on July 3rd-5th, in accordance with the instructions of the Chairman of the BSSR Council of People’s Commissars, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia (Bolsheviks) Panteleimon Ponomarenko, partisan formations began to arrive in Minsk and its surroundings to cover the city and safeguard critical enterprises and facilities. Initially, it was planned to hold a rally and a partisan parade in Minsk on July 9th. However, due to the threat of a breakthrough by the enemy grouping surrounded east of Minsk, the timing of the parade was postponed until the enemy’s complete defeat. 
Thirty-one partisan brigades — 20 from Minsk Region, nine from Baranovichi, one from Vileika and one from Gomel regions, the headquarters of the Minsk regional partisan unit and two separate detachments with a total number of more than 30,000 people — arrived in Minsk. Never in history have so many partisans gathered in one place.
On Sunday morning, July 16th, a parade kicked off in the bend of the Svisloch River on the wide square of the city hippodrome, which had been cleared of mines before the solemn event. About 50,000 people came to see it, almost all residents of the Byelorussian capital and its environs. The ruined city was decorated with banners, portraits of Soviet leaders and flowers.
The parade was started by Konstantin Budarin, Chairman of the Minsk City Council Executive Committee. Then, Panteleimon Ponomarenko took the floor. The parade was attended by Army General Ivan Chernyakhovsky, Commander of the 3rd Byelorussian Front, whose troops liberated Minsk, as well as envoys from Russia’s industrial city of Gorky who brought an echelon of gifts to Minsk residents. The right to open the parade was granted to the People’s Avengers brigade named after V.T. Voronyansky, led by Commander Georgy Pokrovsky, Hero of the Soviet Union. That unit distinguished itself in recent battles by breaking through the German defensive lines in the area of the villages of Zherdyazhye and Okolovo.
After the liberation of Byelorussia, over 180,000 partisans joined the ranks of regular Soviet troops. It is our duty today to cherish the memory of the unprecedented heroic feat of our ancestors and pass it on to our descendants.

By Vyacheslav Danilovich, deputy of the House of Representatives, Doctor of Historical Sciences