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Girl With a Sniper Rifle (Hardback)

An Eastern Front Memoir

WWII Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWII Snipers Women of History

By Luliia Konstantinovna Zhukova
Greenhill Books
Pages: 206
ISBN: 9781784383985
Published: 4th September 2019

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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.

Additional material includes notes by John Walter and an introduction by Martin Pegler.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I found this book to be fascinating! The author, now in her 90's, details her experiences in World War 2 as a sniper for the Russian army. Never bragging, yet obviously very proud of her contributions, she bares her soul to the reader of her history. From being a teenager who wanted to defend her country, all the way through to today, she makes you feel like she is sitting at a table with you, telling her story. And what a story! The sacrifices she suffered, the horrors she witnessed, the PTSD she experienced; it's amazing she is still alive. As she relates the extremely difficult training she went through, the sexism she endured, and her escape from the Nazi's, you will feel your heart being ripped out of your chest. Never dwelling on the blood and gore, simply telling her story and what she did to save her country, this should be a book that everyone interested in World War 2, and in Russia today, should read!

NetGalley, Randal White

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Girl with a Sniper Rifle was a surprise. It was about World war 2. The surprise was that it was about how the Russian women were so Important to the war. Yulia Zhukova of Russia, whose hometown was Uralic, joined the Young Communist League as a young girl. She wanted to help defend her country and people. She was brought up with a love for her country. She became a sniper for the Red Army. Training was very hard. There wasn’t any rest and not much food. She was a woman who shared with men all the horrors of war. She has written in such details about her life at the front and she became very close to her frontline friends, both men and women. She was awarded many medals. She did Cadet training at the Central Women’s Sniping School. Went to the front end in 1944. War ended and she arrived home on August 6, 1945. I think the reason that she wrote her story is so that the young people of Russia would remember the war of 1941 to 1945 and respect the veterans. I especially enjoyed all the photos at the end.

NetGalley, Jean Blankenship

About Luliia Konstantinovna Zhukova

Luliia Konstantinovna Zhukova spent her early years in Uralsk but her parents moved from city to city through their work for the secret police, the NKVD. Despite suffering from ill-health in her youth she eventually enlisted and trained to be a sniper. After the war she finished her studies at Moscow University Pedagogical Institute and worked as a Komsomol secretary in Moscow. She then became a school director of a school and worked for the Communist Party.

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