Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

The Execution of Masha Bruskina

with 5 comments

In October 1941, at Minsk, Belorussia (then occupied by the Nazis), a 17-year-old Soviet Jewish partisan Masha Bruskina was arrested. Her crime? Along with two others, she was accused of killing a German soldier. Before being hanged, she was paraded through the streets with a plaque around her neck which read (in both German and Russian): “We are partisans and have shot at German troops”.

On October 26, 1941, she and her two comrades were hanged by the Nazis. In order to frighten the people into submission, the commander of the 707th Infantry Division, decided to hold a public hanging adjacent to a yeast factory. Every step of this grueling experience by documented by an unknown Lithuanian collaborating with the Nazis in seven infamous pictures.

After the war, the photos were made public — Masha’s two companions were immediately identified, but “the unknown girl” in the photo was not identified until 1968. Soviet authorities, however, refused to recognize her or to award her a posthumous medal. This snub was caused by the prevailing sense of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. In addition, her execution was two months before that of the renowned Soviet resistance fighter Zoya Kosmodemianskya — who was the symbol of Russian women’s resistance to the Nazi occupation.

See the works of Lev Arkadiev and Ada Dikhtiar, who popularized Masha’s cause.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

November 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Politics, War

Tagged with , , ,

5 Responses

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  1. Pradeep

    December 1, 2009 at 2:37 am

  2. This is so wrong, I don’t know how they could do a thing like that. That’s disgusting and vile. She wasn’t even 18 years old yet!!


    April 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

  3. i think they should have shot her. more human way to execute criminals.


    August 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

  4. […] was created to draw attention away from the other heroine of the Resistance who happened to be a Jewess. No matter what, Stalin immediately named her a Hero of the Soviet Union. Many young soviet […]

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