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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Minsk: Hero City of the USSR

Mound of Glory war memorial just outside Minsk

From a folder of historic cards published in 1985 on the 40th anniversary of the victory of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War we continue our series looking at the Hero Cities and Fortresses as well as other sites and battles critical to the Soviet victory. The folder was entitled "No one is Forgotten. Nothing is Forgotten."

This fifth post looks at the Hero City of Minsk which was liberated by the Red Army on July 3, 1944.

It is important to never forget the tremendous determination, courage and sacrifices of the Soviet peoples and Red Army in the great struggle of liberation against Nazism and fascism that was World War II.

The Belorussian Operation Bagration - an outstanding operation of the Great Patriotic War - played a big role in weakening the Nazi army, hastened the hour of its final defeat. Soviet troops completed the liberation of Belarus, liberated part of Lithuania and Latvia, entered the territory of Poland and approached the borders of East Prussia.

The capital of Belarus is one of the first large Soviet cities to bear the brunt of the enemy. On June 28, 1941, the Nazis, having overcome the stubborn resistance of the Soviet troops, captured Minsk. But the city did not submit. Day and night, in the formidable ruins of an occupied but not defeated warrior city, an underground resistance fired at the enemy.

During the three-year occupation in Minsk, there was a city as well as 5 district committees of the party. On the territory of Belarus there were 10 regional committees, 193 city committees and district committees, 1316 primary organizations of the CP (b) B, numbering 35,000 Communists in their ranks. In 1108 partisan detachments there were 374,000 fighters. The partisans controlled 60 percent of the territory of Belarus. The combat assistant of the party in that harsh time was the Lenin Komsomol. In the very first days of the war, half of the city organization went into the army, the remaining Komsomol members fought in occupied Minsk against the enemy in over 60 underground organizations and groups.

On July 3, 1944, Minsk was liberated by troops of the 3rd, 2nd, 1st Belorussian Fronts, while more than 100,000 nazi troops were surrounded and destroyed to the east of the city. The motherland highly appreciated the feat of the defenders of Minsk.

For courage during the resistance and for courage shown in the battles for the liberation of Belarus, 471 soldiers were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, while 402,000 soldiers, sergeants and officers were awarded other orders and medals. Over 120,000 Belarusian partisans and underground workers were awarded orders and medals, 87 of them became Heroes of the Soviet Union. For skillful and heroic actions in the Minsk operation of 1944 More than 50 formations and units of the Soviet Army were awarded the honorary title of Minsk. On June 26, 1974, Minsk was awarded the honorary title of Hero City with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal.

Katyusha rocket launcher in action during Bagration



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