Moabit Däftäre (lost prison-written notebooks; 1944)

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Moabit Notebook2.jpg

One of the found notebooks

Status: Lost

Moabit Däftäre (English: The Moabit Notebooks) is a collective nickname for the notebooks consisting of the verses written in the Moabit prison by Musa Jalil, the Soviet Tatar poet. These notebooks were secretly written by him in the Nazi prison, months prior to his execution.

At least ten such notebooks were documented to had been existing, of which two were found and preserved.[1]

Musa Cälil

Musa Cälil, 1929.

Musa Cälil (Also spelled as Mussa Jalil, Mussa Djalil, Musa Dzhalil, Mussa Dshalil, Mussa Jälil, Musa Celil, Moussa Jalíl) was a Soviet Tatar poet and resistance fighter. He is the only poet of the Soviet Union who was simultaneously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union award for his resistance fighting, and the Lenin Prize for authoring The Moabit Notebooks; both the awards were awarded to him posthumously.[2]

Prior to WW2, he built a career as a pro-Communist poet in the Soviet Union.[3] Cälil joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1929, the same year that his writing, İptäşkä (English: To the Comrade) was published.

In 1941, Cälil volunteered for the Red Army. Shortly after, he was captured alive by Nazi soldiers.[4] The Wehrmacht decided to use Musa to form a new so-called national legion. The poet, however, joined the local resistance and attempted to use the Nazi facilities to print and propagate the anti-fascist leaflets. Soon after he was caught and sentenced to death.

While being in prison, Musa Jalil learned some German and made connections with the local prisoners. He then used these connections to get writing utensils and papery to write and preserve his poetry.

After the end of WW2, Jalil was claimed to be a traitor and Nazi collaborator by the Soviet Union and thus all of his writings were forbidden. The poet was blacklisted from Soviet media, as Soviet children were forced to cut the poet's picture from their books. However, things have changed dramatically, after the death of Joseph Stalin. In the year 1953, the poet's impact on the WW2 resistance movement was revised. Musa Jalil was then made a hero in the Soviet press, and awarded precious Soviet awards, not to mention his writings' legalization.[5]


Three such notebooks were documented to had been existing, of which two were found and preserved. More notebooks might have been written and lost in the war.

Cälil's first notebook was preserved by the Tatars Ğabbas Şäripov and then Niğmät Teregulov, both of whom later died in Stalin's camps.

The second notebook was preserved by the Belgian cellmate André Timmermans. Those notebooks were passed to the Tatar ASSR Union of Writers in 1946 and 1947 correspondingly.

The third known notebook was lost in the archives of SMERSH, the Soviet counter-intelligence organization, and pursuits for it since 1979 have had no results.


As it was primarily derived from the Soviet version of the happened events, according to which in particular, Musa Jalil is depicted as a good communist and Stalinist; a talented person who died for his Communist ideas and hostility towards the Third Reich regime. There is a good chance that much of the information in this article is simply false due to the ideology bias. Additionally, given that the third known notebook was lost, but in the Soviet counter-intelligence agency, there is a good chance that the notebook was intentionally destroyed (and thus is lost forever if not preserved by some miracle). If that is the case, the reason could be that in fact, Jalil was not a communist and/or a Stalinist.

External Links


  1. Mustafin R. Po sledam oborvannoĭ pesni. Kazanʹ: Tatarskoe knizhnoe izd-vo, 2004. p. 311-312
  2. Jalil M, Mustafin R, Kmetyuk L. Selected Poems. Moscow: Progress Publishers; 1981
  3. Kalder D. Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist. New York: Scribner; 2006. p. 23.
  4. Bukharaev R, David DJ. Historical Anthology of Kazan Tatar Verse. Padstow (GB): TJ International; 2000. p. 164.
  5. Calic MJ, Neutatz D, Obertreis J, editors. The Crisis of Socialist Modernity: The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in the 1970s. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; 2011. p. 156-157