Meet the world's deadliest female sniper who terrorized Hitler's Nazi army
Pavlichenko was born in 1916 in a small town in Ukraine.She was described as an independent, opinionated tomboy who was "unruly in the classroom," as the Smithsonian notes.Advertisement
At the age of 14, Pavlichenko's family had relocated to Kiev, where she worked as a metal grinder in a munitions factory.
Like many young people in the Soviet Union at that time, Pavlichenko participated in OSOAVIAKhIM, a paramilitary sporting organization which taught youths weapons skills and etiquette."When a neighbor's boy boasted of his exploits at a shooting range," said Pavlichenko according to the Smithsonian.
"I set out to show that a girl could do as well. So I practiced a lot."On June 22, 1941, Hitler broke ties with Joseph Stalin and German troops poured into the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko rushed to join the Soviet army and defend her homeland, but she was initially denied entry into the army due to gender."She looked like a model, with well-manicured nails, fashionable clothes, and hairstyle. Pavlichenko told the recruiter that she wanted to carry a rifle and fight. The man just laughed and asked her if she knew anything about rifles," Soviet-Awards.com wrote of Pavlichenko's effort to join the military.Advertisement
"They wouldn't take girls in the army, so I had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get in," explained Pavlichenko.Eventually, the Red Army gave her an "audition" by giving her a rifle and showed her two Romanians downrange who were working with the Germans. She shot down the two soldiers with ease, and was then accepted into the Red Army's 25th Chapayev Rifle Division.Advertisement
Snipers in these battles fought between the enemy lines, often far from their companies. It was extremely dangerous and careful work, as she had to sit perfectly still for hours on end to avoid detection from enemy snipers. After making a name for herself in Odessa and Moldova, Pavlichenko was moved to Crimea to fight in the battle of Sevastopol.Her reputation earned her more dangerous assignments, eventually facing off one on one with enemy snipers. The Smithsonian reports that she dueled and killed 36 enemy snipers, some of whom were highly decorated themselves.Advertisement
"That was one of the tensest experiences of my life," Pavlichenko reportedly said.Advertisement
Pavlichenko became a sniper instructor and was soon invited to the White House.Eleanor Roosevelt.Pavlichenko became angry at the US media for the blatantly sexist way they questioned her about the war. Her look and dress was criticized. When she was asked if she wore make up to battle she responded, "There is no rule against it, but who has time to think of her shiny nose when a battle is going on?"Advertisement
Pavlichenko was one of 2,000 female snipers who fought for the Red Army in World War II, and one of the 500 who survived.Her score of 309 kills likely places her within the top five snipers of all time, but her kills are likely much more numerous, as a confirmed kill has to be witnessed by a third party.Advertisement
After the war, Pavlichenko went back to finish her Master's Degree at Kiev University.
In April of this year, Pavlichenko's story was immortalized in a film called "Battle for Sevastopol" in Russia and "Indestructible" in the Ukraine.The film was shot during the 2013 EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine, and financed by both Russian and Ukrainian backers at the start of a conflict that would become bloody and divisive, however the film is a testament to the outstanding career of Pavlichenko, a common hero among both parties.Advertisement