The Resurgence of History Nerd Girl: Killer Instincts Come From the Darndest Sources
Oh boy! I, history nerd girl, is foaming at the mouth to share this sweet tidbit from times gone by. Okay, foaming might be a bit of propaganda on my part. Let’s just say my mouth is slightly watering in anticipation, figuratively of course. Anywho, my target for today’s probe is Major Pavlichenko. Some of you may know the huge role the major played during World War II. However, for those of you that don’t, you’re in for a great story!
Major Pavlichenko was part of the Soviet Red Army’s 2nd company sniper platoon. Pavlichenko had 309 confirmed kills before the major’s sniper career ended. That career only lasted from June of 1941 to June of 1942 (one freaking year). Can we say impressive!?
The major turned out to be among the best in the field. However she takes the whole enchilada for being the most successful female sniper in history! Yup, you read me right, SHE! I’m sorry my feminist mindset is spilling all over the page, but I can’t help it. Can we also say progressive!?
*Deep breath* Okay, my composure is currently regained.
The severity of World War II helped the Russians drop their reservations over including women into their ranks. As a matter of fact, they recruited around 2000 women as snipers during WWII.
Before Major Pavlichenko became “Lady Death” (no joke that was her given nickname) she was known as Lyudmila. A 24 year old, history major, attending Kiev University. Her path quickly changed when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Lyudmila didn’t waste any time, quitting school to join the fight. Unfortunately, every Russian man was not as equally yoked in their thinking of what women roles should be in war. The recruiting officer suggested she was better suited for a role as a nurse. It took Pavlichenko showing her Voroshilov Sharpshooter badge and a marksman certificate before he took her seriously. After the recruiter had to eat crow, Lyudmila got the chance she had deserved, and she never looked back.
Her badge and certificate were earned during her teenaged stint as a member of the OSOAVIAKhIM.
Subsequently she was given the rank of private and assigned to a subsection of the 25th Chapayev Rifle Division, the 54th Rifles Regiment, in the Red Army. Thanks to her exceptional skill as a markswoman, it didn’t take her long to move up in the Red Army. Almost immediately (2 ½ months) Pavlichenko was assigned to the 2nd company sniper platoon and in that same year, earned the rank of Lieutenant.
I know I already mentioned her confirmed kills of 309… In one freaking year! However did you know that 187 of those kills were executed in her first 75 days during the Siege of Odessa?
Even with her stellar performance in the name of her country. Pavlichenko and her comrades were forced to retreat. Odessa was to be occupied by German and Romanian forces until April 1944.
That setback did nothing to deter her from her overall personal mission of being a part of defeating the Axis party. Among her total confirmed kills, she picked off 100 officers and 36 German snipers. It was actually the Axis Party that gave her the nickname “Lady Death”.
I know, she has now reached Avenger’s Black Widow status cool, right?
Yet, Pavlichenko didn’t always come away unharmed. She endured the first three of four significant injuries within that year, and she somehow dusted herself off before taking her rightful place back on the field. Nevertheless, superpowers have their humanly limits outside of fiction. In June of 1942, during the siege of Sevastopol, the fourth and final injury by a mortar shell took her out of the war’s bloody field for good. After a month in the hospital officials within the Red Army thought her service of a public symbol/ celebrity trumped her going back into the thick of it. Figuratively, Pavlichenko’s life of being a sniper died in Sevastopol. Which sucked a lot less than the bulk of her division’s fate. They were killed, quite literally, within a month’s time during the Siege of Sevastopol.
*NOT SO FUN FACT* Pavlichenko was one of only 500 sniper women from the starting 2000 to survive the war.
After her submarine escape from Sevastopol, she was assigned as a sniping instructor and a public spokeswoman. Her rank rising once again to Major. She then went on to tour the United States and Canada with Eleanor Roosevelt to drum up support for us joining the war effort.
*ANOTHER NOT SO FUN FACT* Apparently, the women’s press correspondents in Washington were more concerned with the Major’s use or lack of use of face powder, nail polish, and rouge. One correspondent even criticized the length of the skirt of the Major’s uniform. It was quite obvious the reporter seemed more worried about how fat the skirt made Pavlichenko look instead of the deadly war being waged.
Neither Pavlichenko nor the First Lady let that dampen their efforts and soon they both started to succeed in their efforts of educating those of what was happening to the world at large. As we all know the United States ended up joining the Allies party and the rest is history… Well, I guess all of this is history!
Oh, there’s one last thing I think you should know about this bada** chick before I wrap it up.
*FUN FACT* After the war, Pavlichenko finished college and became the historian she had wanted to be!
I love it! A woman that could kick all the butt and appreciate the Code of Hammurabi. Truly wonderfulness personified… Happy Monday everyone!