Pavlichenko, Lyudmila Mikhailovna, born 12-07-1916 in Bila Tserkva (in today’s Ukraine) in the Russian Empire , Pavlichenko (born Belova) moved to Kiev with her family at the age of fourteen. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a St. Petersburg factory worker. As a child Lyudmila was a self-described tomboy, who was fiercely competitive at athletic activities. In Kiev, she joined a OSOAVIAKhIM shooting club and developed into an amateur sharpshooter, earning her Voroshilov Sharpshooter badge and a marksman certificate. As a teenager, she attended evening school at night, as well as complete household chores. During the day, she worked as a grinder at the Kiev Arsenal factory. In 1932, at the age of 16, she married a doctor named Alexei Pavlichenko and gave birth to a son Rostislav (1932-2007), but he divorced her very soon after. She enrolled at Kiev University in 1937 where she studied history, with an intent on being a scholar and teacher. While attending college, she competed on the university’s track team as a sprinter and pole vaulter. She also enrolled in another elite sniping school.
In June 1941, 24-year-old Pavlichenko was in her fourth year studying history at Kiev University when Germany began its invasion of the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko was among the first round of volunteers at the Odessa recruiting office, where she requested to join the infantry. The registrar pushed Pavlichenko to be a nurse but she refused. After seeing that she had completed multiple training courses they finally let her in the army as a sniper. Thus she was assigned to the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division. There she became one of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army (although female soldiers were still just 2 percent of the Red Army’s total number) of whom about 500 survived the war. Although she was in a combat role, she was only given a frag grenade due to weapon shortages. On 08-08-1942 a fallen comrade would hand her his Mosin-Nagant model 1891 bolt-action rifle.She achieved her first two kills and proved herself to her fellow comrades. She described this event as her “baptism of fire”, because after this she was officially a sniper.
Pavlichenko fought for about two and a half months near Odessa, where she recorded 187 kills. She was promoted to senior sergeant in August 1941 when she reached 100 confirmed kills. At age 25, she married a fellow sniper whose name was Alexei Kitsenko. Soon after the marriage, Alexei was mortally wounded by a mortar shell. Kitsenko died after a few days in the hospital. When the Romanians gained control of Odessa on 15-10-1941, her unit was withdrawn by sea to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, where she fought for more than eight months. There she trained almost a dozen snipers, who killed over a hundred Axis soldiers during the battle. In May 1942, newly promoted Lieutenant Pavlichenko was cited by the Southern Army Council for killing 257 Axis soldiers. Her total of confirmed kills during World War II was 309, including 36 enemy snipers.
In June 1942, Pavlichenko was hit in the face with shrapnel from a mortar shell. After her injury, the Soviet High Command ordered that she be evacuated from Sevastopol via submarine. She was too valuable to lose as she was the perfect example of Soviet womanhood. She spent around a month in the hospital; she did not go back to the Eastern Front after her injuries. Instead she became a propagandist for the Red Army
Due to her high kill count, she was nicknamed “Lady Death”. She also trained snipers for combat duty till the end of the war in 1945.
Visits to Allied CountriesPavlichenko (center) with Nuremburg Justice Robert Jackson (left) and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington DC.
In 1942, Pavlichenko was sent to Canada and the United States for a publicity visit. The purpose of this visit was to convince the allies to start a second front against Germany. While visiting the United States, she became the first Soviet citizen to be received by a US President. When Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed her to the White House. Pavlichenko was later invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to tour America relating her experiences as a female soldier on the frontlines. While visiting the United States, Pavlichenko was not taken seriously by the press and was referred to as the “Girl Sniper”. 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.” They also asked if she used makeup on the frontline. She was described by the reporters as very blunt and unemotional in her responses.
On a foggy Friday 21-11-1942, Pavlichenko visited Coventry, accepting donations of £4,516 from local workers to pay for three X-ray units for the Red Army. She also visited Coventry Cathedral ruins, then the Alfred Herbert works and Standard Motor Factory, from where most funds had been raised. She had inspected a factory in Birmingham earlier in the day.
Having attained the rank of major, Pavlichenko never returned to combat but became an instructor and trained Soviet snipers until the war’s end. In 1943, she was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, as well as the Order of Lenin twice.
Death and burial ground of Pavlichenko, Lyudmila Mikhailovna.
After the war, she finished her education at Kiev University and began a career as a historian. From 1945 to 1953, she was a research assistant of the Chief HQ of the Soviet Navy. She was later active in the Soviet Committee of the Veterans of War. In 1957, Eleanor Roosevelt visited Pavlichenko in Moscow during a visit to the Soviet Union. She struggled constantly with depression, due to the loss of her husband in the war. She also suffered from PTSD and alcoholism, and these factors are believed to have contributed to her early death. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event
Pavlichenko died from a stroke on 10-10-1974 at age of 58 and here ashes was buried in the urn wall on the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow. My friend Radek Hroch from the Czech Republic visited the cemetery and sent me the urn wall photo’s