Hitler’s biggest mistake of World War II which led to the decline of his marauding army was the invasion of Russia. Hitler like Napoleon did not bargain for two major factors that would turn the tide of the war. The terrible Russian winters and the Russians themselves. Russia immersed itself into the war where even village schoolteachers were cast into action. Many of these were women who fought not in the open but as snipers becoming notorious and deadly in their actions chalking up kill after kill gunning down Nazi officers and professing an uncanny but ruthless skill with the sniper rifle. Many of these women became famous heroes of Russia earning accolades and medals of Honor especially the one named Lady death. Read on to know 10 of the most deadly Russian female snipers in military history.
10 Tanya Baramzina
Born Tatiana Nikolaevna Baramzina, she was a kindergarten teacher before becoming a sniper in the Russian Army’s 70th rifle division, 33rd army. Tanya fought on the Belorussian front and was made to parachute behind enemy lines as part of a secret mission. Before doing so she had already chalked up 16 kills and killed a further 20 during her mission. She was ultimately captured, tortured and executed. Tanya was posthumously awarded the Gold star and was declared as a hero of the Soviet Union on March 24th 1945.
9 Nadezhda Kolesnikov
Nadezhda Kolesnikov was a sniper volunteer serving on the Volkhovsky Eastern front in 1943. She was credited with 19 confirmed kills. Like Kolesnikov, a total of 800.000 female combat soldiers fought with the Russian army as snipers, tank gunners, soldiers, machine gunners and even pilots. Not many who saw action survived where just 500 survived the war out of an enlisted 2000. For her service, Kolesnikov was awarded the medal of courage after the war in Russia.
8 Tania Chernova
Not many will be familiar with this name but Tania inspired the female sniper character by the same name in the movie “Enemy at the Gates” which was played by Rachel Weisz who acted alongside Jude Law. Tania was an American –Russian who travelled to Belarus to get her grandparents out of Russia but they had already been killed by Germans. She then became a sniper in the Russian army joining the Hares, a sniper group formed by the famous Vatsily Zaytsev who was also portrayed as a character in the same movie and played by Jude Law. Tania was credited with 24 kills before being wounded in the abdomen from a mine. She was then taken to Tashkent where she spent a considerable time in recovery. Tania fortunately survived the war.
7 Ziba Ganiyeva
Ziba Ganiyeva was one of the most charismatic figures in the Russian army having been a Russian celebrity and a film actress in Azerbaijan before the war. Ganiyeva fought in the Soviet Army’s 3rd Moscow Communist Rifle Division. She was a braveheart who crossed over into enemy lines an impressive 16 times and killed 21 German soldiers. She took an active part in the battle of Moscow and was severely wounded. Her injuries did not permit her to rejoin the war where she spent 11 months recovering in hospital. Ganiyeva was awarded the combat of the Red order and Banner of the Red Star.
6 Roza Shanina
She was nicknamed the Unseen terror of East Prussia and entered the war before she was even 20 years old. Roza Shanina born on 3rd April, 1924 in the village of Yedma Russia actually wrote to Stalin twice to be allowed to fight with a battalion or reconnaissance company. She was the first woman sniper to be awarded the Order of Glory and fought in the famous battle of Vilnius. Roza Shanina chalked up 59 kills but did not survive the war. In an attempt to save a wounded Russian officer, she was mortally wounded by shrapnel that tore her chest open and disemboweled her. She died the next day on 27th January 1945.
5 Lubya Makarova
Sergeant Guard Lubya Makarova was one of the fortunate 500 who survived the war. Fighting in the 3rd Shock army, she was famous for her active role on the 2nd Baltic front and the Kalnin front. Makarova chalked up 84 kills and returned to her hometown in Perm Russia a war hero. For her service to her country, Makarova was awarded the Order of Glory, 2nd and 3rd class.
4 Klavdiya Kalugina
Klavdiya Kalugina was one of the youngest soldiers and the youngest sniper in the Red Army. She entered the war when she was just 17. She started her war career working at a munitions factory but soon entered sniper school and was subsequently sent to the 3rd Belorussian front. Kalugina fought in Poland and was then sent to fight in the battle of Leningrad where she helped defend the city against the Germans. She was deadly in her skills where she chalked up a massive 257 kills. Kalugina survived after remaining in Leningrad till the end of the war.
3 Nina Lobkovskaya
Nina Lobkovskaya joined the Russian army after losing her father to the war in 1942. Nina served in the Russian 3rd shock army where she attained the rank of Lieutenant. She survived the war even seeing action in the Battle for Berlin in 1945 where she commanded an entire company of 100 female snipers. Nina was credited with 89 kills.
2 Nina Pavlovna Petrova
Nina Pavlovna Petrova also known as “Mama Nina” and could well have been the oldest Russian female snipers in World War II. She was born in 1893 and was already 48 when she joined the war. After joining sniper school, Nina was posted to the 21st guards rifle division and saw active sniper duty. Petrova was credited with killing 122 enemy soldiers and although she survived the war she died in a tragic car accident just seven days after the war had ended. She was 53.
1 Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Lyudmila Pavlichencko born in 1916 in Ukraine was by far the most famous of Russian female snipers nicknamed “Lady Death”. Before the war Pavlichenko was a university student and an amateur sharpshooter. After attending sniper school aged 24, she was deputized with the Red Army’s 25th Chapayev Rifle Division. Pavlichecnko was perhaps the most successful female sniper in war history where she fought in Sevastopol on the Crimean border and in Odessa. She chalked up the highest number of kills being 309 including 29 enemy snipers. Pavlichenko survived the war after being removed from active duty on account of injuries sustained in mortar fire. She was awarded the Gold Star of The Hero of the Soviet Union where the country even portrayed her faced on a postage stamp.