November 29th, 2007 Headsman
On this date in 1941, Soviet partisan Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was hanged by the Wehrmacht for sabotaging buildings behind German lines near Moscow.
One of the most famous Soviet war heroines and the first woman decorated as Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II, the 18-year-old had quit school to volunteer for a partisan unit only a few weeks before her hanging as Russia mobilized against Hitler’s race towards Moscow.
Known simply as “Tanya”, the nom de guerre which was the only information she volunteered during two days of torture, the power of the press offered her apotheosis into a propaganda coup for the Kremlin, and a symbol of courage that would long outlive Stalin. Before the public execution, the Nazis paused to photograph the scene; Kosmodemyanskaya availed the lull to harangue the Germans — “you can’t hang all 190 million of us!” — and call on the Russian villagers present to resist occupation.
Her bayoneted, mutilated body hung on the gibbet until the Red Army recaptured the village; witnesses related the tale of her dying heroism to a newsman.
It was only after the story of “Tanya” hit the press in January 1942 that her identity was established … and then promulgated widely. Anonymous and obscure in death, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya would inspire millions and become the heroic emblem of other women partisans.
Soviet propaganda poster unabashedly modeled on the already-iconic image of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya’s abused corpse.
Part of the Themed Set: Women Against Fascism.
Also on this date
- 1793: Antoine Barnave, constitutional monarchist
- 1284: Alice Bowe and her friends
- 1938: Branislaw Tarashkyevich, Belarusian linguist
- 1330: Roger Mortimer, usurper
- 1957: Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas
- 1781: The slaves of the Zong, for the insurance
- 1517: Torben Oxe
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arson,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Famous Last Words,Germany,Gibbeted,Guerrillas,Hanged,History,Martyrs,Mature Content,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Popular Culture,Power,Public Executions,Russia,Soldiers,Torture,USSR,Wartime Executions,Women
Tags: 1940s, 1941, dmitri shostakovich, eastern front, fascism, media, moscow, moscow metro, nationalism, operation barbarossa, partisans, partizanskaya, propaganda, world war ii, zoya kosmodemyanskaya