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Kiev, Ukraine

Tatyana Markus Memorial

A tribute to a Ukrainian heroine who went undercover and killed several Nazi operatives. 

Tatyana Yossifovna Markus was born in Ukraine in 1921 and lived only for 22 years, but within that short span of time, she became a formidable underground agent the Nazis feared.

In 1941, when the Germans entered the city of Kiev, a young Markus was there to greet them, congratulatory flowers in hand. Instead of graciously handing them over to the triumphant soldiers, she threw them, and the grenades hidden underneath them, at the approaching contingent, killing four soldiers. Her father threw a second grenade, to prevent them from retaliating. 

In the tumultuous times of war, father and daughter had become members of the Kiev underground, resisting Nazi rule. But her father was caught and killed shortly after the grenade incident.

Markus got further entrenched into the movement and took on the alias of Tatyana or Tatiana Markusidze, the daughter of a Georgian prince who had been killed by the Bolsheviks.

With this tragic (fake) backstory, she purported to hate the Soviet Union and joined the Germans. A young beautiful operative, she won the confidence of several German officials and gathered information that helped the Ukrainian rebels kill them. She even worked in a German officers’ mess and often lured soldiers into isolated areas and killed them herself.

With a number of Nazi soldiers dead, the Gestapo launched an operation to identify and catch her. As she was escaping, in August 1942, she was caught and interrogated brutally for more than five months, which intensified when her Jewish identity was discovered. But despite the torture, she refused to provide them with any information about her comrades. She was then killed in January 1943 and, according to some accounts, her body was thrown into the notorious Babi Yar ravine, where thousands were massacred by the Germans.

A few years later, in 1946, a Communist Party district report dealing with the period of occupation included her and spoke about the “brave Komsomol girl who knew no fear, Tanya Marcus, who was known as Markusidze. An active member in the sabotage movement, she personally killed dozens of soldiers, officers, and collaborators. She carried out very responsible operations on behalf of the organization by preparing sabotage operations, etc.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union, a statue of this courageous young woman who gave her life in the fight against the Nazis was unveiled in Babi Yar in 2009, just a few years after she was honored as a “Heroine of Ukraine.”

Know Before You Go

The coordinates are for Babi Yar park, within which stand memorials to victims of the massacre, including the statue of Tatyana Markus.