1862: Nueces Massacre 1833: Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, sodomite

1978: Antonina Makarova, Nazi executioner

August 11th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1978, a young Soviet girl’s desperate collaboration with the Wehrmacht caught up with a 55-year-old mother.

A village girl and the first in her family to go to school, young Antonina Parfenova was dubbed “Makarova” (after her father, Makar) by a teacher when the girl forgot or was too shy to say her surname. This childhood switcheroo would follow her into adulthood and ultimately buy her half a lifetime and a family to mourn her.

At 19, she had moved to Moscow when the German onslaught against the Soviet Union erupted, and like many young people in similar straits, she volunteered to help fight the Nazis. But as the front swept past her, she found herself in enemy territory, and was nabbed by the SS and persuaded to become the Germans’ executioner of Russians at Lokot, a village near the Ukrainian and Belarussian borders for which a short-lived Nazi-controlled “republic” was named.

A 2005 Pravda article (with a somewhat prurient concern over the young woman’s sexual incontinence) delves into her activities:

Usually Antonina Makarova was ordered to execute a group of 27 people, the number of partisans which a local prison could house. Death sentences were carried out on the edge of a pit half a kilometer from the prison. She never knew people whom she executed and they had no notion who the executioner was either. Antonina executed the first group of partisans being absolutely drunk and the girl could hardly realize what she was doing. She often kept clothes of those whom she killed if the things were good; she carefully washed them and heaped them in her room.

In the evenings after work Antonina loved to dress up and enjoy her time dancing with German officers together with other girls who came there as prostitutes. Antonina boasted she used to live in Moscow that is why other girls kept aloof from her.

At dawn, Antonina often came to the prison and peered into the faces of people whom she was to execute in the morning. The woman just did her job when executing people and believed that the war would write her crimes off.*

“Antonina Makarova” was implicated in some 1,500 executions, and formally charged in around 200 cases with identifiable victims. The KGB turned up scores of women of the right age with the right name, but none of them fit the bill: the real Makarova’s passport said “Parfenova.”

Not until 1976 did the case break, when a relative applying for a travel visa named her in a routine list of relatives. Now named Antonina Ginsburg — she had married a veteran and taken his name — she was living quietly in Belarus, but hardly in hiding: the pair attended parades and town functions in the honor accorded World War II survivors.

Viktor Ginsburg would be in for a bit of a shock.

Even 35 years after her spell with the Germans ended, the wounds of the Great Patriotic War were raw enough to spell her death in very quick order in Briansk, the capital of Lokot’s district. She was the last World War II traitor of any note executed in the Soviet Union, and according to this page, the only Soviet woman ever judicially executed by shooting. (I’d take that claim cautiously without more corroboration.)

The Pravda article cited above is about the only original English source readily available online; Russian speakers (or people prepared to grapple with an online translator’s inelegance) can read much more at her Russian Wikipedia page as well as here, here and here.

Update: Courtesy of Executed Today’s own Sonechka, a translation from this Russian story of Makarova’s daughter’s heartbreaking remembrance of a woman she only knew as a mother:

Pain, pain, pain … She spoiled the life of four generations … You would like to know whether I would take her back if she returned? I would. She is my mother after all… I really don’t know how to remember her — as if she’s alive or dead. According to the tacit law, women were not shot. Maybe she’s alive somewhere? And if not, tell me — I’ll finally light a candle for her soul.

(Candles in Orthodox churches are lit for “zdravie” — literally “good health, well being” — or “upokoi” — “peace of a soul.” The former is intended for living beings, the latter for dead ones.)

* This, at least, is what she told her interrogators.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Belarus,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,Executioners,Germany,History,Milestones,Notable for their Victims,Notable Sleuthing,Occupation and Colonialism,Russia,Shot,Soldiers,USSR,War Crimes,Women

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25 thoughts on “1978: Antonina Makarova, Nazi executioner”

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  2. Meaghan says:

    Nixon and Kissinger weren’t tried because they were both American.

  3. Amadis Daiwesz says:

    What I don’t agree with is: Why weren’t two clowns of history, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger tried for the mass murder of 4,000,000 Southeast Asians and 55,000 American soldiers? Or the murder in cold blood of General Robert Schneider of Chile? I could mention 1,000 such examples. This woman did something very evil but no more evil than the children Israel bombs in Gaza every day or the ones American prostitutes murder every day in Afghanistan. So history is a farce recounted by those with power.

    1. John Lind says:

      Richard Nixon was president from 1969 to the end of the war. You cannot blame him for all those deaths. He was elected to bring an end to it. The primary culprit for the carnage was Robert S. McNamara, the Sec’y of Defense, followed by General William C. Westmoreland who was the Commander in Chief of US Forces in Vietnam, both under Lyndon B. Johnson who was president from Kennedy’s assassination in November 1962 through 1968. Those three, with McNamara as the principal, were responsible for the Vietnam War debacle.

      1. Mark Robinowitz says:

        Nixon and Kissinger escalated the war on Vietnam and started new attacks on Cambodia and Laos (and Chile, etc.)

        The destruction of Cambodia destabilized that country which enabled the Khmer Rouge to come to power (not a US goal, merely a consequence). Nixon and Kissinger’s bombing of Laos spread unexploded bombs that still kill people to this day.

        We need a South Africa style Truth and Reconciliation / Reparations Commission to be able to admit our history and shift away from endless war.

  4. Alla says:

    Some people say that since crimes were commited a long time ago and it’s in the past so it does not count…
    Something like that…
    A murderer is a criminal forever and needs to be punished.
    I do feel sorry for the jewish husband who had no clue and about her daughters. Psychological damage to them, innocent victims, is tremendous

  5. Jacob Reiner says:

    They should have hung her up by her feet and let the jackels chew her to death for what she did.

    1. Najjar says:

      Hanging her would have been to quick for her to die. I would have sliced her body and tie her to a tree somewhere in the Siberia forest and let the red fire ants do the rest, it would take her weeks before she ‘swallow’ her birth certificate.

  6. FICO says:


  7. FICO says:


  8. Larry Lamb says:

    “the only Soviet woman ever judicially executed by shooting” – can’t remember the name, but I remember a news story from the 70s (possibly 80s) of the manageress of GUM being shot for embezzlement.

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