Masha Bruskina was a Russian teenage female partisan. She was a 17 year old Jewish high school graduate and was the first teenage girl to be publicly hanged by the Nazis in Belorussia (Belarus), since the German invasion of Soviet Union on the 22nd of June 1941.
Masha Bruskina was born in Minsk, in the Soviet Union, in 1924. A member of a Jewish family, she was forced to live in the Minsk ghetto with her mother, after the arrival of the German Army in July 1941.
Although only seventeen Masha, an ardent member of the Communist Party, joined the Minsk resistance movement. She volunteered as a nurse at the hospital in the Polytechnic Institute, that had been set up to care for wounded members of the Red Army. As well as caring for the soldiers she helped them escape by smuggling into the hospital civilian clothing and false identity papers.
One of the patients informed on Masha and on 14th October she was arrested by the German authorities. She was tortured for several days but refused to give the names of other members of her group. On 20th October she wrote to her mother: “I am tormented by the thought that I have caused you great worry. Don’t worry. Nothing bad has happened to me. I swear to you that you will have no further unpleasantness because of me. If you can, please send me my dress, my green blouse, and white socks. I want to be dressed decently when I leave here.”
In order to frighten the people of Minsk into submission, the commander of the 707th Infantry Division, decided to hold a public hanging. On 26th October 1941, Masha Bruskina and two other members of the resistance, 16 year-old Volodia Shcherbatsevich and First World War veteran, Kiril Trus, were taken to the gates of a local yeast factory.
When they put her on the stool, the girl turned her face toward the fence. The executioners wanted her to stand with her face to the crowd, but she turned away and that was that. No matter how much they pushed her and tried to turn her, she remained standing with her back to the crowd. Only then did they kick away the stool from under her.
There are picture widely available of her dead body hanging on a noose, but I didn’t feel it would to justice to her memory, I am ending this blog with a picture of her that shows her beautiful face. In this photo of her, you will see that she has blond hair, but her natural colour was dark. She dyed her hair when she started to work for the underground.
After hanging for three days, she and the men were taken down and only when her body was traditionally washed before her burial by local people and members of her family, did her dark hair show up.
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