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.

Three such notebooks were documented to had been existing, of which two were found and preserved.


Musa Cälil, 1929.

Musa Cälil (Also spelt 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.[1]

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

In 1941, Cälil volunteered for the Red Army. Later on he was captured alive by the Nazi soldiers. 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 for that and sentenced to death.

While being in prison, Mussa Calil learnt some German and made connections with the local prisoners. He then used these connections to get writing utensils and papery and use these to write and thus preserve his poetry.[2]

After the end of WW2 Calil was claimed to be a traitor of the Soviet Union and thus all his writings were forbidden. After the death of Joseph Stalin, his impact on the WW2 resistance movement was reconsidered and even heroicised - Musa Jalil was then awarded with precious Soviet awards and his writings were legalised.


Again, 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 organisation, and pursuits for it since 1979 have had no results.[3].


(This section contains one's personal opinion and discussion about the topic)

I accidentally discovered this topic and thought it is worth an article on LMW. Considering how huge and heroic this topic is, I expected to get much of the information from the internet, however, there surprisingly very scarce information about this topic. The best (and only) source turned out to be Wikipedia.

Additionally many things do not make sense. I noticed some problems, however, there could be many more. Firstly, when Musa Jalil decided to print illegal leaflets and other writings, how did other (potential) domestic resistance fighters know to unite on his leadership? He became somewhat known just some 10-15 years ago and thus might not have been widely recognised by the prisoners (would you be able to recognise some written who began publishing some 10-15 years ago?). Secondly Wikipedia claims that "Cälil joined the Wehrmacht propaganda unit for the legion under the false name of Gumeroff", but how then the Nazis knew he is good enough to join their propaganda unit if they are not aware that he is a known poet?

Not only that, the two found & preserved notebooks' contents are very difficult to find. While the reprints in both Russian and English are widely available, the original scans of contents of these notebooks are very difficult to find. It is possible to find images of some notebooks' pages of a very varying quality, the full scanning set could not be found on the internet.

I am afraid that much of the information in this article is simply false, as it was primarily derived from the Soviet version of the happened events, according to which, in particular, Musa Calil is depicted as a good communist and Stalinist. And unfortunately, given that the third known notebook was lost not just somewhere, but in the Soviet counter-intelligence agency, there is a good chance that the notebook was not lost, but rather intentionally destroyed (and thus are lost forever if not some miracle) for some reason. If that is the case, the reason could be that in fact Calil was not a communist and/or a Stalinist, and the third notebook prevents him from "fitting the cult quite well".

The good news could be that the LMW community consists of many people speaking different languages, therefore there is a hope that more sources of the better quality are to be added to this article.


  1. Mussa Jalil. Selected poems. Poetry of Truth and Passion. Rafael Mustafin, translated by Lydia Kmetyuk. Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1981
  2. Musa Calil @ English Wikipedia Retrieved 13 Nov 2017
  3. Musa Calil @ English Wikipedia Retrieved 13 Nov 2017