Rostov-on-Don is a city in the South of Russia. It was occupied by the Germans in 1941 and 1942–1943. When the Germans captured the city in 1941, they issued an order to exterminate all pigeons. Vitia Cherevichkin disobeyed and hid his birds in his house for about a week before the Germans discovered it.
The photograph made by Max Alpert clearly shows that the boy was tortured before he was killed.