Minsk Partisan…..


Commander of Radio Operations at Minsk Partisan Headquarters; Pavel Vishnivetskiy.

Little is known about Pavel (anglicised it would be read as Paul), except that from the paperwork, he joined the Minsk Partisans as a “Commander of the Communications Centre” in September 1943, and left them in July 1944, presumably the Partisan units were stood down when Soviet forces re-captured Minsk in July.


After the war we know that he also worked as a Radio operator working in the Magadan Oblast region (Magadan being temporarily sanctioned a “Potemkin village” in 1944).  Magadan post war was a centre for forced labour gold mining.  The only airport in the area was “Magadan 13”, the airport handled primarily only Ilyushin ll-14 aircraft, he was awarded the “Flight Radio Operators Badge”, for 3000 hours safe flying in 1989. This overall is all I know about Pavel, other than his name shows he was most likely Jewish, and from this we can theorise that he may have been in the Minsk Ghetto, accounting for his late deployment to the Minsk Partisan units, he might well have been working in the underground in the Ghetto prior to this, with the date of 1943, being the year of the liquidation of the Ghetto, and of many thousands of people being sent to camps and executed.



The Minsk ghetto, held close to 100,000 people, most of whom perished in the Holocaust, around 10,000 people escaped to join resistance forces and fight for their freedom.   The Minsk partisans have found fame in films such as “Come and See” and “Defiance”.

“In August 1941 about 231 partisan detachments were operating already in Belarus. The units totalled 437 by the end of the 1941, comprising more than 7,200 personnel.  As the front line moved further away, the logistical conditions steadily worsened for the partisan units, as the resources ran out, and there was no wide-scale support from over the front line until March 1942. One outstanding difficulty was the lack of radio communication, which wasn’t addressed until April 1942. The support of the local people was also insufficient.  So, for several months, partisan units in Belarus were virtually left to themselves. Especially difficult for the partisans was the winter of 1941-1942, with severe shortages in ammunition, medicine and supplies. The actions of partisans were prevailingly uncoordinated.  In Belarus, the SS-Sonderbataillon “Dirlewanger” came under the command of Central Russia’s Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer, Erich von dem Bach Zelewski. The “Dirlewanger” resumed anti-partisan duties in this area, working in cooperation with the Kaminski Brigade for the first time. Its conduct in the Soviet Union, rather than improving, worsened and atrocities were a daily occurrence. It is estimated that 200 villages were burned and 120,000 civilians were killed during the actions involving the Dirlewanger in Belarus 1942-1944.  The turning point in the development of the Soviet partisan movement came with the opening of the Vitsyebsk gate, the corridor connecting the Soviet and German-occupied territories, in February 1942. The partisan units were included in the overall Soviet strategical developments shortly after that, and the centralized organizational and logistical support had been organized, with Gate’s existence being the very important facilitating factor. As early as the spring of 1942 the Soviet partisans were able to effectively harass German troops and significantly hamper their operations in the region.

In the Spring 1942, the aggregation of the smaller partisan units into brigades began, prompted by the experience of the first year of war. The coordination, numerical build-up, structural rework and now established logistical feed all translated to the greatly increased partisan units military capability, which showed, e.g., in the increased number of diversions on the railroads, reaching hundreds of engines and thousands of cars destroyed by the end of the year.  By the November of 1942, Soviet partisan units in Belarus numbered about 47,000 personnel.  In January 1943, out of 56,000 partisan personnel, 11,000 were operating in the West Belarus.

The build-up of the Soviet partisan force in the West Belarus was ordered and implemented during 1943, with nine brigades, 10 detachments and 15 operational groups transferred from the Eastern to Western lands, effectively tripling the Partisan force there (to 36,000 in December 1943). It is estimated that ~10,000-12,000 personnel were transferred, and about same number came from the local volunteers. The build-up of the military force was complemented by the ensuing build-up of the underground Communist Party structures and propaganda activity.  In the Fall 1943, the partisan force in BSSR totaled about 153,000, and by the end 1943 about 122,000, with about 30,000 put behind the front line in the course of liberation of eastern parts of BSSR (end 1943). The partisan movement was so strong that by 1943-1944 there were entire regions in occupied Belarus, where Soviet authority was re-established deep inside the German held territories.”




However from research conducted by my friend Sergio Rustichelli, to whom I would like to place my thanks on record, it would appear that despite a Jewish sounding surname he may not have been a Ghetto inmate at all, in fact it seems likely that he was a Russian Air force member.

“Once through its connected Paul learned that in prison Komarichsky contains two Soviet pilots who were shot down in a serious condition and taken to jail. Nezymaev won permission from the district authorities to survey the prison.  On examination, the doctor gave the conclusion that the pilots Starostin and Wisniewski need hospital treatment. A few days later the two pilots were taken to hospital. After recovery, they were transferred to the guerrilla group.”


And so it would appear that he was a crew member, possibly a radio operator judging by his qualification badge.  He appears to have been shot down, or crashed, wounded and then have joined the Partisans later on, which would explain his rise in the ranks quickly, his position and why his service started so abruptly.


2 thoughts on “Minsk Partisan…..

  1. I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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