Brief History

Pavlichenko 1942

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet soldier born in 1916 in Ukraine; her father was a factory worker and her mother was a teacher. In 1941, she was studying history at the Kiev University. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June, she volunteered to join the army. The recruiting office first wanted to assign her to non-combat posts, but she tell them she had some experience with the rifle. After an impromptu test, she was assigned to the Red Army's 25th Rifle Division. Later she became a sniper and first fought near Odesssa. She gained a rank of Sergeant in August after she was credited of 100 confirmed kills.

In October, her unit was re-deployed in Sevastopol, a strategic port in Crimea. Sevastopol endured the winter siege to the summer of 1942. During the intense combats, she scored more kills; by May, she was noticed by the higher command and she cited by the Southern Army Council of 257 confirmed kills. In the battlefield, she was wounded four times. The last time was in June 1942, when she was recorded of 309 confirmed kills of Axis soldiers. While recovering, she, now a lieutenant, was withdrawn from Sevastopol through submarine by the higher command. In July, the remaining Soviet troops finally surrendered to the German forces surrounding Sevastopol.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko1942

In August 1942, she was called by the Soviet High Command to visit the Allies (The United States, Canada & Great Britain) to drum up more support for Soviet Union. She first travelled to the Washington, D.C., and met President Franklin Roosevelt. She was the first Soviet citizen to be a guest at the White House; during her stay at the White House, she became a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, who asked her to accompany the First Lady on a tour of the country about the battles at the eastern front in Europe.

Justice Robert Jackson, Lyudmila Pavlichenko and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1942. Photo: Library of Congress

After the successful publicity visit, she was promoted to be a major. Her popularity and western experiences made her more valuable than battlefield contribution. She was then assigned an instructor post to train new snipers and she had never returned to the battlefield. In 1943, a Soviet post office issued a postage stamp to feature Lyudmila as a sniper. After the War ended, she returned to complete her education at Kiev University. In 1957, Eleanor Roosevelt visited Moscow and persisted to get the permission to visit her friend, Lyudmila. Lyudmila died on 10 October 1974. A second Soviet postage stamp was issued to commemorate her in 1976.

Video of the theme song of the 2015 movie "Battle of Sevastopol" produced by Russia and Ukraine


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