When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, they launched what arguably became the bloodiest conflict in history between two nations - a true "total war." One aspect of the Soviet war effort against the Germans was their civilian resistance - the "partisans." Overall the number of Soviet partisans numbered in the hundreds of thousands. This set of photos shows a few of them.
A Belarusian partisan nurse waits out the night in a secluded cabin with two
wounded partisans, Brest Region, Belarus, Soviet Union. 23 December 1943
A Soviet Army soldier teaches Russian partisans how to operate a
Browning Hi-Power handgun during Operation Barbarossa, the initial
German advance into the Soviet Union. Near Smolensk, 23 August 1941
After heavy combat with the Germans in the town of Karachev, a Soviet partisan cries with his two sisters after learning their parents had been killed by the Germans. September 1943
Lithuanian partisan Sara Ginaite-Rubinson, armed with an M38 Carbine
M. Nikolaevna, a Russian member of a kolkhoz (collective farm), bids goodbye
to her son Ivan before he joins the partisans. Pskov, Soviet Union. March 1942
Partisan guerrilla commander and head priest at the church in village Vidon, Leningrad oblast, Mefody Belov shakes hands in farewell with his daughter Rufina, herself a partisan fighter.
Partisan sniper Kuzma Zhakarov posing for the camera. Soviet Union, 1943
Partisans happily reconnect in the forest, having previously believed the others had been killed. The group are from the Molotava Brigade, a partisan group made up mostly of escaped Soviet Army POWs. The woman pictured is Faigel “Faye” Lazebnik Schulman, a Jewish woman born in the small shtetl of Lenin, Poland (destroyed during the war, former location in present day Belarus). Schulman had studied photography and was only one of about 27 of the nearly 2,000 Jews not executed during the German destruction of the Lenin Ghetto near Pinsk. Schulman was spared by the Germans initially because she was the only professional photographer left in the area and was made to develop photographs and take photographic portraits of German soldiers and officers. In 1942, Schulman fled into the Naliboki forest with her camera equipment and joined the Molotova Brigade. For two years in the forests she photographed the partisan’s activities, worked as a medical aid and participated in the partisan’s raids, despite the brigade itself often harboring anti-Semitic sentiments. Naliboki forest, Belarus. December 1944. Photograph by Faye Schulman.
Russian insurgents of one of the many partisan units meet up in Bryansk
before an action against German military targets. The partisan on the
right carries a captured German MP-38 submachine gun. February 1943
Russian partisan near Stalingrad
[a propaganda photo if I've ever seen one]
Russian partisans prepare to execute a former partisan, who switched to being an informant and traitor, by firing squad. Kursk Oblast, Russia, Soviet Union. ca. October 1943
Russian women partisans