I’ve had this story bookmarked on my computer for a few years now and it’s too good of one not to share.
This website, Rejected Princesses, has stories of all real life badass women who have done remarkable things. I found this comic a while back about a woman named Lyudmila Pavlichenko and today I want to share some of her story with you.
In June of 1941, when Lyudmila was 24, she decided that she wanted to help the Allied Powers take out Hitler. When she tried to tell the recruiting officer she wished to be a sniper, he told Lyudmila to become a nurse, like most women did, but she wasn’t having it. You see throughout her life, Lyudmila was a decorated marksman. She had numerous accolades for her sharpshooting abilities and during her time at Kiev University, she was enrolled in sniper school. She was made for this. Upon learning this the recruitment officer help her enroll as a sniper with the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division.
Things were far from easy for Lyudmila but like I said, she was made for this. She was strong-willed and competent. At first, she was only equipped with a frag grenade. They sent this woman into battle with ONE frag grenade. When one of her comrades was injured to the point he couldn’t fight, he gave Lyudmila his colt-action rifle and not long after, she claimed her first 2 kills (those didn’t count with her final kill count). Lyudmila had called it ‘baptism by fire’. Her comrades saw that in the heat of the battle, they could rely on her to do her job and do it well. She proved herself that day and from there, her fame only grew.
Lyudmila was also briefly married to one of her comrades but he died in battle shorty after and not much is known about him. After his death, her comrades noted that she was so angered and almost unstoppable.
She moved across the front as her kill count rose. Lyudmila would get into sniper duels, one of which lasted 3 days in a graveyard, but she always reigned victorious. She became known as “Lady of Death” and the Germans even tried to persuade her to their side – at one point offering her chocolate and a General position (yes, they really did offer chocolate).
In just 1 year on the front, Lyudmila killed 309 enemies.
She was injured by some shrapnel in June of 1942 and removed from Sevastapol, where she had been stationed at the front. Her new job was to tour Europe, the US, and Canada to help gain aid for Russia to fight against the Axis powers.
The US was a mixed experience for Lyudmila. On one hand, she met a lifelong friend in First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. But the US, ever the egotistical little sibling to the World, was more concerned about Lyudmila’s outfits and face rather than her stories of what was happening out East. This frustrated her to no end. At one point, fed up with the stupid questions from press, she said:
“Gentlemen. I am 25-years-old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?”Lyudmila Pavlichenko (x)
What a bad bitch!
Back home in the Soviet Union, she was given the highest honors and was seen as much of a hero as her male counterparts. Her time after the war was riddles with depression and alcoholism. Although, she did marry once more. All of the stress and PTSD she experienced had caught up with her in the end. Lyudmila Pavlichenko passed away at the age of 58 after suffering a stroke.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a courageous woman who kinda got pushed away in the stories of history. I love the comic by Jason Porath and how it depicts through her life. I also highly encourage you to check out other stories on Rejected Princesses. There’s so many stories of fascinating people on there. For now, enjoy the little nugget of history that you might not have known.
(I kinda skimmed through the top of her story (this is a blog, not a research paper) but you can read more here.)
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Featured Image: History Collection