The deadliest female sniper in history – Людмила Павличенко (Lyudmila Pavlichenko)

Lyudmila PavlichenkoBorn: July 12, 1916. Died October 10, 1974.

She was one of the most dangerous snipers of either sex, and she remains the record-holding female sniper. She had killed 257 Germans by May 1942 when she was promoted to Lieutenant. Her total credited kills were 309, including 36 snipers. (It apparently doesn’t include 2 Romanian invaders she shot in order to prove she could be useful to the Soviet Army.)

She joined the Soviet Army shortly after Nazi Germany began its invasion. She was pushed to become a nurse, but she had earned pretty much every civilian marksmanship award in the Soviet Union. She became 1 of 2000 female snipers. (And 1 of only 500 to survive the war.)

There is a movie about her life. The Battle for Sevastopol. It is available via Amazon Prime for free watching if you subscribe.

To prove that reporters were just as crazy in 1941, when she visited the US, as they are today:

While meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C., she was dumbfounded about the kind of questions put to her. “One reporter even criticized the length of the skirt of my uniform, saying that in America women wear shorter skirts and besides my uniform made me look fat.”

Remember, in 1942, we were friends with the Soviet Union, and the Soviets desperately needed us to open a serious 2nd front against Germany to relieve pressure on them in the east.

The New York Times dubbed her the “Girl Sniper,” and other newspapers observed that she “wore no lip rouge, or makeup of any kind,” and that “there isn’t much style to her olive-green uniform.”

It took her a while to find her voice, but when she did, she let the idiots in the press have it.

Soon, the Soviet sniper had had enough of the press’s sniping. “I wear my uniform with honor,” she told Time magazine. “It has the Order of Lenin on it. It has been covered with blood in battle. It is plain to see that with American women what is important is whether they wear silk underwear under their uniforms. What the uniform stands for, they have yet to learn.”

She was eventually promoted to the rank of major, and after her tour of the US and Great Britain, she became a sniper instructor.

If you don’t want to look up the movie, Rejected Princesses has a piece on her life. (“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” More on Rejected Princesses can be found at this link.)

The movie, Bitva za Sevastopol (Battle for Sevastopol) available on Amazon jumps around in time a bit much for my taste, between her service, her time in college before the war, and her visit to America. And only the portion that is in America is in English, the rest is in Russian with subtitles. (I know how much folks hate that.) And it is NOT a documentary or biography. Still, it does a good job of covering her service. And the insanity she encountered in America.

The 3 minute (and some) video below is a better overview of the movie than the trailer, which can be found at this link.

World War 2 Facts has details on the firearms she used.


One thought on “The deadliest female sniper in history – Людмила Павличенко (Lyudmila Pavlichenko)

  1. Folks have asked why I know so much Soviet history. I did study Russian in college, and I studied history. Russian among that. It is hard to claim you’ve studied the history of World War 2 without having studied the German invasion of the Soviet union. And since it lead directly to the Cold War…

    But also the Russians have had a tradition of women doing things that Americans said were impossible for women to do, since their backs were against the wall in WWII. They didn’t have women snipers because they wanted to. If you could defend the country against the Nazi invasion, you were expected to do so. The US had women move into factories during WWII to support the war effort, but after the men wanted things back to the way they had been. (Even if you can never go home again.)

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