A 43-year-old Jewish teacher, who spent three years in German-held Minsk and the surrounding forests, told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent today how she worked as a charwoman for five months in German headquarters, enabling her to pass on invaluable information to the partisan bands around the city.
The woman, red-haired Khassia Prusslina, an instructor in Russian history in the Minsk Medical Institute, spent fifteen months within the city of Minsk and 21 months with guerrilla bands on the outskirts. During this time her 11-year-old son was killed by the Germans and her brother was hanged.
On November 7, 1941, the 24th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution, the Nazis carried out the first of three large-scale pogroms in Minsk-pogroms which wiped cut 119,000 Jews. In an attempt to save themselves from execution, Mrs. Prusslina and other people living in her house hid in the cellar. Since her son was too ill to be moved, she left him in her apartment, in the hope that the Germans would not molest a sick child.
When the Nazis entered her apartment, which was just above the cellar, she could hear her son crying out: “Mother, they are taking me away.” But there was nothing she could do. To attempt to rescue the boy would have doomed all the persons ho were hiding with her to certain death. She never saw her son again.
After participating in underground activities within the ghetto for several months, the Jewish teacher secured false identification documents stating that she was a Russian. With these she was able to obtain employment as a charwoman at German staff headquarters. After five months, however, the Germans were drawing their net closer around the Minsk underground organization, and in September, 1942, Mrs. Prusslina fled the city and joined a partisan group.
As a guerrilla, she worked as a nurse, a reconnaisance scout, and a reporter for the partisan newspaper. She engaged in these and other activities until the beginning of June, when the Red Army entered the city. One June 5, she returned to brinks. Her career as a partisan was over. Now she is intent on participating in the rebuilding of the ruined Byelorussian capital.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.