After the German invasion of Russia the Nazi commandant of Minsk in Belarus decided, in the face of local resistance, to frighten the people into submission with a public hanging. Marsha Bruskina, a 17-year-old Jewess, who helped Russian soldiers to escape after they were captured, and two other members of the resistance, Volodia Shcherbatsevich, 16, and Kiril Trus, a First World War veteran, were paraded through the streets then hanged before a large crowd on Sunday, October 26th, 1941.

The fate of Marsha Bruskina was particularly poignant. She had been a volunteer nurse in a Minsk hospital, caring for Red Army soldiers, when one of the patients informed on her. She was arrested on October 14th and tortured for several days, but refused to reveal the names of other members of the resistance.