Known as “Lady Death,” her name struck fear into the hearts of German soldiers.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko ‘s memoirs begin on July 12, 1916, in a small town in present-day Ukraine (Bila Tserkva), which at that time was under the rule of the Russian Empire.

From a very young age, Pavlichenko showed sporting prowess and soon developed a love for the sport, which led her to join a shooting club at just 14 years old, where she quickly rose to prominence as an amateur shooter.

Being a 16-year-old teenager and in her last year of high school, she married a medical student, Alexei Pavlichenko, with whom she had her first child that same year, but despite that, they soon divorced shortly after. 

When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Lyudmila, studying history at Kyiv State University, felt the call of duty and volunteered for the Red Army.

Barely 25 years old, and after proving that she had received basic military training at a Kyiv school and won the Voroshilov Marksman’s Badge at regional tournaments, she insisted she wanted to be given a combat role, despite recruiters trying to guide her. to become a nurse. 

At her insistence, they handed him a rifle and gave him a mission: to eliminate two Romanian soldiers. Two bullets killed them without ever knowing where they had come from. They were the first two victims of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, which allowed her to be accepted as a sniper.

Being part of the army, she was shipped to the battlelines of Greece and Moldavia. In a very short time, she distinguished herself as a fearsome sniper. She killed 187 Germans in her first 75 days in the war, earning her a promotion to lieutenant.

But in 1942, with Hitler’s advance in the southern Volga Basin, an air raid hit Pavlichenko’s post, and she was forced to withdraw from the field. Temporarily sidelined from the war, she was appointed the Soviets’ diplomatic commissar in their talks with Washington and sent to the United States to drum up support for sending more troops to Europe. She thus became the first Soviet citizen to be received by the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1943, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, for which she was banned from returning to the battlefields and tasked with imparting combat experience to soldiers preparing to go to the front lines.

After the war, Lyudmila graduated from the University of Kiev and worked in the General Staff of the Soviet Navy, until the day of her death, on the 10th of 1974.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was not the only woman to serve as a Soviet sniper in World War II since about 2,000 women did so, and about 500 survived the war; but with 309 confirmed kills, she was the most effective and fearsome in history.