This Girl Was A Real Killer
|Roza Shanina. Some of these pictures, like this one, have been colorized.|
|Roza Shanina in 1944.|
|This shot likely was taken when Roza was awarded one of her medals.|
|This is another colorized photo of Roza Shanina, apparently from the same photo session as the one above. This one looks genuine, so the other photograph likely is, too. Somebody with skills cleaned up the other one, best job I think I've ever seen.|
|Rosa posing with her sniper rifle.|
|A colorized version of the shot above.|
|Shanina showing her decorations.|
|Snipers Sergeant Roza Shanina and Junior Sergeant Alexander Maksimovna Ekimov.|
|Roza showing her commander her sniper rifle.|
Shanina enrolled in the Central Female Sniper Academy. She did well in training and requested a front-line unit. Roza joined the 184th Rifle Division in a separate all-female sniper platoon as its commander.
The Soviet leadership, contrary to some pre-war propaganda, was not eager to send women to the Front to be killed, but Roza demanded the chance. It is said that she snuck out to join the forward troops. Ultimately deployed on the northern part of the central front near Vitebsk, she scored her first kill on 5 April 1944.
|While this photo, which is a colorized version of one above, does not really show it, the skirt was actually dark blue.|
While usually armed with a sniper rifle, on occasion Roza used a submachine gun. She used "blinds," hidden spots near the German lines which were specially camouflaged. She also was adept at taking out German snipers hidden in trees by waiting until the light was just right for her to spot them.
As Operation Bagration proceeded, Shanina advanced with the troops into East Prussia. She often had multiple-kill days, once recording five in one day. She was awarded the Order of Glory 2nd Class on 16 September 1944.
|Notice the wear on the scope, which helps to spot authentic shots of Roza.|
|Stepping back a pace, Roza Shanina with her spotter.|
|Leningrad 1944: Snipers Faina Yakimova, Roza Shanina, and Lidia Volodina.|
According to her diaries (which were prohibited by Soviet law), published long after the war, Shanina had an urge to be on the front lines even though her head told her it was a bad idea. She also at times engaged in hand-to-hand combat, along with other female snipers. Her diaries also allude to some unfulfilled romantic longings for fellow soldiers. Her last diary entry, just before her death, was very dark on this score. It is fair to say that there were internal contradictions to being one of the top killers of the war and also finding romantic/spiritual fulfillment at the same time. Just because she was beautiful did not mean that her fellow soldiers who were fighting for their lives every day and living in mud and dirt were falling all over her. She also lost many friends as casualties, and her entire platoon save a handful of others was wiped out.
|Roza Shanina with fellow sniper Dusya Krasnoborova.|
While serving in the 144th Rifle Division, she was mortally wounded by a shell fragment on 27 January 1945 near Richau Estate (later Telmanovka) in East Prussia (near Novobobruysk in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia). It appeared that she was sheltering another soldier with her body when she got hit by shrapnel (both perished). Roza Shanina died the next day. Her remains are located in Znamensk, Kaliningrad Oblast.
Roza was not the top sniper of the war, nor the top female sniper (that would be Lyudmila Pavlichenko, 309 kills). However, her reputation and trail-blazing spirit were immense, and her picture appeared during the war in various Soviet media outlets and even some Western ones as well (such as Canadian newspapers that termed her "the unseen terror of East Prussia").
Despite dying at the tender age of 20, her fame is immortal. After her death, she received numerous accolades and awards, some quite recent. She became even more of a national heroine than she had been in life, though during her life she was honored as well. You may never have heard the name Roza Shanina before, and may never again, but in Russia, she is a legend.