The following examines the widely publicized photographic images of the first public execution of partisans in the occupied USSR during the Second World War: two men and a woman being led to the gallows in Minsk on October 26,1941. The two men were subsequently identified by name and recognized as heroes, but the young woman was officially identified only as “unknown.” The reluctance to recognize her by name continues despite evidence that the young woman was Masha Bruskina, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl. This article concentrates on the historical significance of the execution and on the factors contributing to the unwillingness to recognize Masha Bruskina.

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