Fallen heroes: Masha Bruskina

During my visit to le Mémorial de Caen I learned about the public hanging of Masha Bruskina who was only 17 years old in Minsk on 26th October 1941.

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the last year will know that I usually prefer to post positive and celebratory stories about the heroes of the Second World War. However the story of this hero particularly moved me while I was in Normandy for the 69th anniversary. I therefore feel as though she should be mentioned on this blog for that reason.

Born in Minsk in 1924, Masha Bruskina lived with her family in the Jewish ghetto after the Germans’ arrival in July 1941. A volunteer nurse in a German-run hospital where Soviet prisoners of war were treated, Masha was also an active member of the Communist Party and a Resistance fighter. She was known to make false ID papers and also supplied civilian clothing to help prisoners escape. She was denounced by a patient in the hospital who was working with the Germans and was arrested in 1941. She was hanged with two other Belarusian partisans on 26th October 1941.

The photo I have included in the post was disseminated by the Soviets in honour of the sacrifice of the Communist Resistance movement against Nazi barbarity. However the identity of Masha was only revealed by historians in 1996. Why? Because it was inconceivable for Stalin that a Jewish girl could represent such a heroic figure for Soviet Resistance.

It is important not only to celebrate the success of our surviving heroes but also their fallen comrades.

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