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This is the 17-year-old Jewish high school graduate, Masha Bruskina. She was one of many young women during World War II who were put to death for fighting against the Nazi règime and the first teenage girl to be publicly hanged by the Nazis in Belorussia. 

She worked as a nurse in a military hospital in Minsk, and was a member of an underground cell which aided Soviet officers hospitalized there, to escape certain death and join the partisans. Despite the constant danger they continued to risk their lives by disobeying orders, sabotaging the daily routine. In 1941 the members of the cell were informed on and quickly rounded up by Nazi officers.

Masha and two of her male comrades, Volodya Sherbateivich and Krill Trous, were sentenced to death by the Nazis. They were led through the streets with Masha wearing a large placard proclaiming that they were partisans. Their hands were tied behind their backs with cord and they were hanged one at a time, Masha first, by the German 707 Infanteriedivision who meticulously filmed the proceedings.

The young prisoners were neither hooded nor blindfolded, and they were given no drop, so their cruel and slow deaths would act as a stronger deterrent to the local people who witnessed the event.

Hanging was the preferred Nazi method for the execution for partisans as it produced more of a public spectacle than shooting and was used to terrorize the local populace as well as entertain the German troops ...

The execution of Masha and her comrades took place on October 26th 1941 in the city of Minsk and the bodies were left hanging for several days as a grim reminder to others.

The photograph of the 1941 execution has been reproduced many times all over the world but, in her native Belorussia, Masha Bruskina has not yet gained recognition.

Despite the weight of overwhelming evidence, the testimony of eyewitnesses and the confirmation of respected scholars Masha's homeland denies her identity. She may be recognized elsewhere, but in Minsk, Belorussia, where she fought and for whom she died, the girl in the photograph is still officially described as unknown.

The reason: Masha was Jewish.





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