The Female Soviet Snipers Who Helped Defeat Nazi Germany
Understandably, Americans tend to be more knowledgeable about World War II’s Western Front than its Eastern one. (Why wouldn’t we focus on where we fought?) Yet this causes us to overlook extraordinary episodes from the struggle to stop Nazi Germany. For one, Soviet women played a vital role in direct combat. Indeed, over 2,000 were trained as snipers. These women killed large numbers of Germans while risking death themselves.
The Soviet Union needed both genders to contribute to the war effort due to the massive number of casualties. (Estimates suggest up to 11 million soldiers and 20 million civilians lost.) These included the snipers, women who would lie still while hidden for hours, waiting for the chance to take a shot at the Nazis. Many proved remarkably effective, such as Tanya Baramzina, who killed 36 invaders before being captured and executed.
The most famous, however, is Lyudmila Pavlichenko. (Also known as “Lady Death.”) Alex Q. Arbuckle recently reported on these remarkable women for Mashable, with a particular focus on Pavlichenko. She is credited with an incredible 309 kills, including 36 enemy snipers. Yet she was eventually pulled from the field for other duties. Arbuckle writes:
“Pavlichenko was sent on a tour of the United States, Canada and Great Britain to rally Allied support of a second European front to relieve the pressure on the Soviets. While touring the United States with Eleanor Roosevelt, Pavlichenko was bombarded with absurd questions from the press about fashion, hairstyle, and whether she wore makeup into battle. She endured them at first, but as the tour progressed her patience thinned, and she began to boldly chide the Americans for their condescension.”
Indeed, an indignant Pavlichenko once announced: “Now I am looked upon a little as a curiosity, a subject for newspaper headlines, for anecdotes. In the Soviet Union I am looked upon as a citizen, as a fighter, as a soldier for my country.”
To read more about these incredible snipers and the huge toll they took on Nazi Germany, click here.
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