Women To Know: Lyudmilla Pavlichenko, The Woman Who Single-handedly Took On Hitler
- IWB Post
- September 10, 2015
Should women be sent to the frontlines of battle in a combat role? Since the last decade a huge debate has been constantly raging on the issue. Maybe one needs to look back 70 years ago to find the answer of this question from the life of Lyudmilla Pavlichenko.
It was Soviet Union during World War II in the 1940s. Bullets, blood and death seemed to be everywhere. In the middle of the gore filled trenches and wounded soldiers, stood a 24-year-old woman, hands firmly on the trigger of a rifle. At a time when the word feminism was not much heard about, one lone woman dared to take on Hitler singlehandedly.
Earlier this month, was the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War 2. The war which was the most destructive in human history is generally associated with Hitler and the ruthless Nazis, because of whom countless lives were lost. But WWII also gave birth to the deadliest female sniper ever, Lyudmila Pavlichenko.
It was from her childhood, that this brave woman had a way with guns. A member of a local shooting club at her hometown Kyiv, (now in Ukraine), she very quickly gained a reputation of being a crack shot with a rifle. Simultaneously, Lyudmila worked at a factory to keep the money flowing in for her family.
Quite a lot, isn’t it? At those times, when women were not even remotely associated with combat, this girl not only gave all the male sharpshooters a tough competition but also broke all the gender-centric stereotypes! Lyudmila also aced her studies and completed a master’s degree in history.
But wait… The real story begins when Hitler ordered an attack on Russia. As her country was caught off guard in front of the Nazi troops, Lyudmila had two choices in front of her. One was to become a nurse and help with the war effort and the other was to the frontlines and fight as a sniper.
This master ‘markswoman’ chose the latter and it was from here that her journey as one of the first woman snipers began. Well, for all of Hitler’s soldiers who would have probably laughed upon hearing of a woman sniper, literally hell was in store.
Lyudmila is credited of 309 kills. A figure that instils awe among people because there have been very few, even among men to match those figures.
Within a year of her life as a sniper, she had killed around 257 German soldiers some of whom were also snipers. Lyudmila’s incredible toughness is obvious from the fact that she was severely wounded in the battle but still wanted to go back to the frontlines after she had recovered. But she was now sent to visit countries like USA, Canada and UK where the tales of her bravery had made her an icon. In America, she also met then president Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, who lauded Lyudmila for her heroic efforts.
One among many spirited women of the yesteryears, Lyudmila Pavlichenko proved her mettle at a time, when humanity was desperately in need of heroes and…well heroines!
JWB down memory lane
JWB down memory lane is a series in which we acquaint our readers with women from the past, who were much ahead of their times. Defying all odds, these freewheeling ladies broke countless barriers and clichés, to leave their names on the pages of history books.