Masha Bruskina
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Having been brutally beaten and tortured in the jail, Masha revealed nothing to her captors and even kept a
bitter sense of humor to tell a fellow prisoner "In any case, there is no chance I'll die of starvation." 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."
She and two male partisans were hanged in public on Sunday, October 26, 1941, in front of “Minsk Kristall”
a yeast brewery and distillery plant. Before being executed, she was paraded through the streets with a
plaque around her neck which read (in both German and Russian): "We are partisans and have shot at
German troops", although they had actually not.
They walked calmly and Masha did not look around. The officer threw a rope on the crossbar and made a
loop. Masha was the first one led to the gallows.
Mariya Borisovna “Masha” Bruskina was born in 1924 in
the Belarusian (then Soviet) city of Minsk into a middle-
class Jewish family. Masha spent her childhood,
attended a primary and a secondary school and dreamt
about an actress career. But on June 22, 1941 Nazi
Germany invaded the Soviet Union and six days later
they were already in Minsk.
One of their first measure was to force almost 100 000
local Jews into a small and overcrowded ghetto. But
some weeks later Masha managed to escape this ghetto
to go into hiding on the "Aryan side" of Minsk, where
she lightened her dark brown hair, adopted the guise of a
"Russian girl Anya".
She volunteered as a nurse at the hospital in the
Polytechnic Institute, which 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
civilian clothing and false identity papers into the
hospital. A patient informed on Masha, and she was
arrested on October 14, 1941.
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.
Masha fought and struggled fiercely in the noose, far
longer than her compatriots did. And, despite her
fierce resolve, lost control of both her bladder and
bowels and soiled herself badly in front of the entire
crowd of onlookers.
After hanging for three days, she was taken down
and before her burial her body was traditionally
washed by local people and members of her family.
Then her dark hair showed up.