From 1941 onwards the Soviet Union promoted and supported the formation of partisan groups who carried out operations behind German lines in former Soviet-occupied territories including Byelorussia and Ukraine. The infiltration and supply of these groups behind enemy lines was made easier by the formation of a salient in the German line in Byelorussia known as the Vitsyebsk Gate, a heavily forested area through which ammunition and Soviet propaganda could easily pass. The various partisan groups conducted sabotage missions against German infrastructure and reserve forces behind the front line, and would often carry out reprisals against locals who had assisted the Nazis. By 1942 the Soviets had formed a central command in order to co-ordinate partisan activities, and by 1943 had over 50,000 partisans operating in Byelorussia alone. In some areas the partisans were so effective that they controlled entire regions within German occupied territories.
— OR —