1941: Masha Bruskina, Kiril Trus, and Volodia Shcherbatsevich, partisans

On this date in 1941, the German occupiers of Minsk conducted an infamous public hanging of partisans — perhaps the first such salutary public execution of resistance members of the war.

Jewish* 17-year-old Maria (Masha) Bruskina was the central figure of the grim tableau, and wore the placard announcing “We are partisans and have shot at German soldiers.” Evidently, she also attracted the most attention** from the onlookers to whom the scene was addressed.

Before noon, I saw the armed German and Lithuanian soldiers appear on the street. From over the bridge they escorted three people with their arms tied behind their backs. In the middle there was a girl with a sign-board on her chest. They were led up to the yeast factory gate. I noticed how calmly these people walked. The girl did not look around … The first one led to the gallows was the girl.

She was hanged with bewhiskered World War I vet Kiril Trus and the 16-year-old Volodia Shcherbatsevich. The men were members of a partisan cell organizing anti-fascist resistance; Masha Bruskina was a nurse who had been caught aiding the partisans by providing civilian clothes and papers for wounded Red Army soldiers under her care to smuggle them back to the resistance.

The scene of their deaths was captured in a series of powerful photographs taken by one of the Lithuanian Wehrmacht collaborators.

(More images here and here.)

* Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative claims that Bruskina lightened her hair and changed her name to prevent her Jewishness affecting her resistance work; even though she was a Minsk native, her initial identification didn’t happen until 1968. The men who suffered with her were named almost immediately after the war.

** Despite the eye-catching place of the girl, she was officially unidentified for decades even after the name Masha Bruskina surfaced. In “A Historical Injustice: The Case of Masha Bruskina,” (Holocaust Genocide Studies 1997, 11:3) Nechama Tec and Daniel Weiss argued that Soviet authorities, and later Belarusian ones, found her Jewishness problematic and resisted identifying her because of it — while an ethnically Russian female partisan like Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya could be more conveniently accepted as a heroine. Maybe, but bureaucratic inertia and simple precedence (since Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was known immediately while Masha Bruskina was not) are also plausible contributing factors.

A plaque unveiled at the Minsk yeast factory in 2009 finally called her Maria Bruskina.

On this day..

21 thoughts on “1941: Masha Bruskina, Kiril Trus, and Volodia Shcherbatsevich, partisans

  1. Pingback: Remembering One Girl from Minsk – October26, 1941 – A Re-Post | toritto

  2. It never ceases to amaze me. Wherever I find a forum for truth on The Holocaust, the denier lurks to attempt to negate the atrocity. Having written about The Holocaust Murder of 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, Men, Women and Their Children, Masha Bruskina was one of their finest!

  3. It’s such a pity that the world have not learned anything from the iniquity of man, and that those who probably never faced these atrocities, now use the holocaust card to validate the eradication of Palestinians, just because they call themselves ‘Jewish’.

    Anyway, there’s worse going on in Syria, and elsewhere.

  4. The Germans buried thousands of chidren alive and throwed them alive to the fire. Kill babies with the bayonets , All the world have to know that this savages did, and don´t think that they feel pity for their victims, they are not repented of any of their crimes.

  5. Pingback: Remembering One Girl From Minsk – October 26, 1941 | toritto

  6. @Herr_HGS_1967_Berlin:

    I forgot to say that I spent some time in your city of Berlin in the summer of 1972. The same summer they located the remains of Martin Borman.

  7. @Herr_HGS_1967_Berlin:


    I do not speak German, but if you can get your message to me in English, I’ll be happy to respond.

    That said…I see Vietnam and the German word for children (kinder), so I may already know the road you’re traveling down: I hope you’re not equating what that asshole Lt. Calley and his men did in My Lai with Germany’s actions during the war? If you are, then the comparison between Nazi Germany and what they did throughout all of Europe and what this small group of men did in Vietnam is absurd.

    There were hundreds of thousands of German soldiers during WW2 that were normal people caught up in the war. But you must realize, that even these men were fighting for a regime that was evil and despicable, and was bent on destroying the world. They were murdering Jews and non Jews alike, 11 million people in all. Six million of those were Jews.

    Therefore, everything Germany received in destruction during the war was brought upon themselves by themselves. Had you folks managed to kill that monster Hitler, the world could have been spared a horrendous time in our recent history.

  8. @ Kevin M. Sullivan Hättest Du sie lieber gefickt Trottel? Ist es der Grund weshalb Du weinst? Warst Du in Vietnam Ami und hast dort Kinder verbrannt?

  9. Heroic people.

    However, Jews will always whine.

    She should be called a Russian first and foremost.

  10. If her ‘crime’ was courage against immorality then she was obviously guilty to the end.

  11. Pingback: ExecutedToday.com » Executed Today’s Third Annual Report: Third Time Lucky

  12. Pingback: ExecutedToday.com » 1941: Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya

  13. Yeah there is a saying that the female of any species is more bad and lethal than the male .time and again it is proving in this world and will continue to do so.

  14. Pingback: ExecutedToday.com » Executed Today’s Second Annual Report: Once Bitten, Twice Die

  15. “A Thousand years and the blood guilt of Germany will not be washed away” – one of the war criminials hanged at Nuremberg (Pot, Kettle?)

  16. Even the flattened cities of Germany cannot undo the evil which was committed here. May they never forget what their nation did not so very long ago!

    • Hello Kevin
      writing to you after 25 years seem like sending a message in a bottle across the ocean. Anyway, just in case you do receive this answer, I want you to know that I can truely say that since I was twenty years old – which means 62 years ago – I never forgot what my nation did ‘not so long ago’ – as you admonished us.
      Hoping that you are still in the land of the living, I would be extremely pleased to hear from you.

      • Hello Herbert!

        Thank you for the kind words, Herbert, but are you sure you have the correct Kevin Sullivan? I don’t remember having contact with you 25 years ago, but if it happened, refresh my memory. 🙂

        With warmest regards,


Comments are closed.