Zaytsev, Vasily Gregoryevich “Vaya”, born 23-05-1915 in Yeleninskoye on a farm , in a peasant family of Russian ethnicity and grew up in the Ural Mountains, where he learned marksmanship by hunting deer and wolves with his grandfather and younger brother. He spent his summers working there as a shepherd. He was barely four years old when he started hunting squirrels with bow and arrow and by the time he turned 12, he advanced to hunting stags in the nearby forest with his grandfather. This is where he developed a taste for sniping. When he turned 15, Zaytsev enrolled at the technical school in Magnitogorsk where he trained as an accountant. He brought home his first trophy at the age of twelve: a wolf that he shot with a single bullet from his first personal weapon, a large single-barreled Berdan rifle, which he was just barely able to carry behind his back at the time. Zaytsev served in the Soviet Navy as a clerk in Vladivostok. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Zaytsev, like many of his comrades, volunteered to be transferred to the front line. He was a chief petty officer in the Navy, and was assigned the rank of senior warrant officer upon transfer to the army. On 22-09-1942, while still in training, Zaytsev and a comrade were hidden in one building, with a German sniper in another building. When Zaytsev’s friend was shot by the German, Zaytsev found himself locked into a duel with the German sniper over the next three days. By October of 1942, a German sharpshooter, apparently named Major Erwin Koenig (König), was dispatched to Stalingrad. His purpose? To kill Vasily Zaitsev. Word of his arrival spread to the Soviet defenders. Vasha was worried. He had killed many enemy snipers – but only after he had a chance to observe their habits. Like stalking his prey in the taiga, the Siberian needed time to observe Koenig’s routines. No one knew where, or how, the German would strike. For two days Vasily and Nikolai Kulikov looked for signs of the German. Keeping low, under cover, they used binoculars to scan the horizon. They studied enemy lines. With the battle going on around them, Vasha and Nikolai looked for one man. They saw no irregularities. Koenig had given them no clues. On the third day, Danilov wanted to accompany Zaitsev. Thinking he had spotted the German, the Commissar stood up to point him out. Koenig shot him in the shoulder. There was one more shot that day. Zaitsev wanted to test whether he had found the German’s hiding spot. His instincts told him Koenig was under a sheet of iron, near a disabled tank and a pile of bricks. When Zaytsev finally killed his opponent, he examined the body expecting that the German was of high rank, but instead discovered that his victim was a regular soldier. During Zaytsev’s career as a sniper, he would conceal himself in various locations – on high ground, under rubble, in water pipes, etc. After a few kills, he would change his position. Together with his partner Nikolay Vasilyevich Kulikov
Zaytsev would exercise his hide and sting tactics. One of Zaytsev’s common tactics was to cover one large area from three positions, with two men at each point – a sniper and scout. This tactic, known as the “sixes”, is still in use today, and was implemented during the war in Chechnya. Zaytsev took part in the Battle of Stalingrad until January 1943, when he suffered an injury to his eyes from a mortar attack. He was attended to by Vladimir Filatov,
who is credited with restoring his sight. Filoatov died old age 81 on 30-10-1956. On 22-02-1943, Zaytsev was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. He then returned to the front and finished the war in Seelow Heights in Germany with the military rank of Captain. After the war, Zaytsev settled in Kiev, where he studied at a textile university before he obtained employment as an engineer.
Death and burial ground of Zaytsev, Vasily Gregoryevich “Vaya”.
His wife was Zinaida Sergeevna Zaytseva, born in 1931 and who died about age 97-98.
Vasily rose to become the director of a textile factory in Kiev, and remained in that city until he died in 1991 at the age of 76, just 10 days before the final dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was initially buried in Kiev despite his final request to be buried at Volgograd. On 31-01- 2006, Vasily Zaytsev was reburied on Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad, now Volgagrad with full military honours. Zaytsev’s dying wish was to be buried at the monument to the defenders of Stalingrad. His coffin was carried next to a monument where his famous quote is written: “For us there was no land beyond (the) Volga”
. Colonel Donald Paquette of the US Sniper School was present and laid a wreath as a sign of respect to a legendary sniper. US Army News quoted Colonel Paquette: “Vasily Zaytsev is a legend and every USA sniper must.