When you think of war, how do you see the role of women? Are they the ones that stay behind and take on the jobs vacated by those who have gone off to war, or do they go and do their bit for their country? This book gives a first hand account of one lady’s experiences.
The following is taken from the Pen and Sword website:
In this vivid first-hand account we gain unique access to the inner workings of Stalin's Central Women’s Sniper School, near Podolsk in Western Russia.Luliia was a dedicated member of the Komsomol (the Soviet communist youth organisation) and her parents worked for the NKVD. She started at the sniper school and eventually became a valued member of her battalion during operations against Prussia.
She persevered through eight months of training before leaving for the Front on 24th November 1944 just days after qualifying. Joining the third Belorussian Front her battalion endured rounds of German mortar as well as loudspeaker announcements beckoning them to come over to the German side.Luliia recounts how they would be in the field for days, regularly facing the enemy in terrifying one-on-one encounters. She sets down the euphoria of her first hit and starting her “battle count” but her reflection on how it was also the ending of a life.
These feelings fade as she recounts the barbarous actions of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. She recall how the women were once nearly overrun by Germans at their house when other Red Army formations had moved off and failed to tell them. She also details a nine-day stand-off they endured encircled by Germans in Landsberg.Regularly suffering ill-health she took a shrapnel injury to her knee and had to be operated on without an anaesthetic. She would eventually see the end of the war in Köngsberg.
Like her famous counterpart Pavlichenko she gained recognition but struggled to come to terms with war service. Haunted by flashbacks she burned the letters she sent home from the Front. She later discovered that of the 1885 graduates of her sniper school only 250 had died in war.
In this powerful, first-hand account we come up close to the machinations of the NKVD (the secret police) as well as the gruelling toll of war and the breathtaking bravery of this female sniper.
This first hand memoir is written by Yulia Zhukova, with a forward by Martin Pegler. This hard back book contains 206 pages, with a glossy black and white photograph section in the middle, depicting Yulia throughout her life. Published by Pen and Sword and priced at £19.99 (this may be cheaper from the Pen and Sword web site).
The contents are as follows:
List of Plates
Forward by Martin Pegler
Preface to the English Edition
Chapter 1 Beginnings
Chapter 2 Everything for the Front
Chapter 3 My Family’s Tragedy
Chapter 4 An Unusual Friendship
Chapter 5 A Child of War
Chapter 6 Into Battle
Chapter 7 The Sounds of Battle Die Away
Chapter 8 Home!
Chapter 9 The Eternal Flame
Appendix The Order of Glory
This book was originally called “For the Sake of Remembrance", but after consulting with her granddaughter, Yulia changed the title to “Girl with a Sniper Rifle”. The writer explains how the writing of this book caused everything to come flooding back - smells, sounds, and the faces of those who were lost. A very vivid account of Stalin’s Central Women’s Sniper School, and how the Soviet Union celebrated their women snipers.
As with all those who have survived combat, the post-war years proved to be a struggle for Yulia. But just like the pilots of World War 1, she found that writing her story helped to put things into perspective. Her actions and life during the Great Patriotic War provide the reader with an unusual insight into a country that sent large numbers of woman into front line combat. Yulia’s first visit to the front is well covered as is the loss of woman who was shot in the head and another member blamed herself for having cross words with her.
This memoir is a truly insightful story into how the war affected just one person, who wanted to serve her country. This book is well written and as the memory of the War is lost to history, it will only be first-hand accounts like this that will keep the memories of these brave and courageous people alive.
Fay Baker takes a look at a book from Pen and Sword titled 'Girl with a Sniper Rifle - An Eastern Front Memoir'.
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