NOVEMBER 29: “You can’t hang all 190 million of us!”

12383 Above: Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya is led to her execution with a tablet on her chest that translates as “arsonist of buildings.”

“YOU CAN’T HANG all 190 million of us!” cried eighteen-year-old Soviet legend Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya on this date in 1941. Supposedly.

While the pronouncement of the soon-to-be-executed World War II resistance fighter smacks of Soviet propaganda, Kosmodemyanskaya appears to have been a worthy heroine. She worked with a band of local guerrillas after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, setting fire to houses and stables used by Nazi officers in Petrishchevo.

Betrayed by a Nazi collaborator, she was hanged on November 29, 1941. In February of 1942 she was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

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