With 309 confirmed Nazi kills, Lydumila Pavlichenko was the most successful female sniper in the history of modern warfare.
In these memoirs Pavlichenko recounts her experience during the Siege of Odessa and the Siege of Sevastopol. Pavlichenko wasn’t just a sniper; she was a sniper that specialized in hunting enemy snipers! A sniper sniper! Pavlichenko’s description of the mental calculations she makes while ‘hunting’ really interested me. She describes being hidden in a tree and mentally performing all these mathematical calculations involving everything from wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, humidity, angle, speed of the target, time of the day, elevation of the terrain, etc. It is really quite impressive!
After being hit in the face with shrapnel from a mortar shell in June 1942, Pavlichenko served as a spokeswomen for the Red Army in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., in which she befriended Eleanor Roosevelt. The sexist reaction she received in North America and Europe from officials and the press – such as asking about how she menstruates in the trenches! – really says a lot to me about the place of women in Western ‘democratic’ society during WWII.
Brilliant and lethal, this is one of the most fascinating WWII memoirs I’ve ever read. As a side note, I’d recommend watching Battle of Sevastopol on Amazon Prime; it is loosely based on Lyudmila Pavlichenko!