The Price of Victory

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Victory, wM together with Tatyana Polityko, Deputy Head of the Department of Scientific and Educational Work of the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War, recalls the terrible times.

— The exhibits for the museum – the world’s first museum of the history of the Great Patriotic War – started being collected at the very beginning of the war. The exposition timeline covers the period from 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, till 1945, and provides information about post-war years and military conflicts of our time. New materials are still being added to the collections.

Hall “The beginning of World War II. Defensive battles in Belarus in the summer of 1941. The Battle of Smolensk. The Battle of Moscow, 1941-42.” The symbol of the beginning of the war was the defense of Brest Fortress. One of the exhibits is a gymnastyorka that used to belong to Lieutenant Alexei Naganov, who died on the first day of the war with his body found only in 1949. His Komsomol membership card helped to identify the lieutenant, whereas other fifteen comrades of his failed to be identified. Here is also a fragment of Brest Fortress with the inscription, “1941. 26, June. There were three of us. It was hard, but we did not give up, and we are dying like heroes”.

Hall “A turning point in the course of the war. Soviet rear“. Personal belongings of people who were living under the blockade speak about their life during the war louder than armored vehicles. For example, a photo of Zinaida Tusnolobova-Marchenko, a nurse who saved 123 wounded in battlefields in the course of eight months. At 23, she lost both her arms and legs. Zinaida was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and the slogan “For Zina Tusnolobova!” could be seen on many Soviet tanks and aircrafts.

Hall “Partisan movement and anti-fascist underground struggle in Belarus. The participation of Soviet citizens in the European Resistance Movement in 1941-45.” Hand-written partisan magazines and hand-made weapons are of a particular value. A unique item is a submachine gun donated to the first commander of the partisan movement Vasily Korzh. The handle is made of a cow’s horn, the shell under the barrel is a German bicycle frame, and the barrel itself – a hand mill shaft. The inscription is made on a German aircraft’s lining.

Hall “The liberation of Belarus. The defeat of fascist Germany, its allies and militaristic Japan.” The main symbol of victory is an exact copy of the Soviet Banner of Victory raised on the Reichstag on 1, May, 1945. Like its original, it lacks a piece. When the banner was put off the wall in order to participate in the Victory Parade, the loss was discovered, thus a new piece of cloth had to be urgently sewed on. Apparently, someone wanted to have it as a keepsake.

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