by Cecil Owen
"My code name is Hugo Hauptzeltburger, and I am by far the greatest of all German snipers. My kill logbook has a recorded 517 Russian snipers that I have shot. I have tracked them all down one at a time. Then one shot and they are all 'Kaputt', deader than a 'Makrele' (Mackerel). In fact, I am so good and careful at my job that I am 'Unbesiegbar' (invincible). Nothing in this whole wide world can touch me."
These are the last boastful words that Hugo ever uttered. In the next second, a bullet tore through his steel helmet, and exploded in his brain. He died instantly and fell out of the fifth story window. Hugo Hauptzeltburger (we don't know his real name) was indeed one of the best German snipers of World War II. His position was so well camouflaged, he was almost invisible. But when he threw back his arms to emphasize his boast, his helmet was briefly exposed. This was all the Russian sniper needed to squeeze off a fast bullet. She had been searching for Hugo for days.
Yes, I said "she," for this is Lieutenant Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko, the greatest female sniper that ever lived. In less than two years she had amassed an incredible score of killing 311 enemy soldiers and 36 of these were also Nazi snipers. Now, Lyudmila was only a month away from her 26th birthday when she was wounded by mortar fire. This ended her fantastic combat career. By this time she was awarded several medals and considered a heroine of the Soviet Union. Russia had two thousand women snipers in World War II, but less than 500 survived. Where did this marvelous sharpshooter come from?
On July 12, 1916, in the small village of Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine (this is in the northwestern part of Russia, which partly borders Poland) a pretty little baby girl named Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko was born. At a very early age, "Mila", they called her, showed a high degree of intelligence. In school she was always a straight "A" student. When Mila was fourteen, they moved to the city of Keiv, the capital of Ukraine. Here she was able to join a rifle club. Quickly, she developed into a remarkable sharpshooter. Lyudmila was an exceptionally beautiful young girl. She was 24 years old and attending the University of Kiev, majoring in history. Suddenly, her whole life was changed very dramatically. On June 22, 1941 Hitler invaded Russia, although less than two years earlier he had promised not to. Mila, along with many of her college comrades, rushed down to join the military. She told the recruiter, "I want to join the Russian Infantry so I can carry a rifle." The recruiting officer laughed at her and said, "No way can a pretty young girl like you be allowed to use a gun. We need nurses, so you can enlist to be one." Miss Lyudmila pulled out several marksmanship certificates, stating that she was a qualified sharpshooter. "I will not become a nurse," she stated, "I will only become a sniper." So Mila, the student, became Private Pavlichenko in the 25th Infantry Division in the Army of the U.S.S.R. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. While in boot camp, she astonished the gun instructors with her shooting abilities. Her rifle was a Mosin-nagent Russian Sniper Rifle Model 1930, with P.E 4-Power Scope. The Mosin-nagent gun is a 5-shot bolt action rifle, effective up to 600 yards. It fires a 7.62 caliber bullet at a speed of 2800 feet per second. Now, at 600 yards the bulls-eye in a big target looks very small, but Mila hit 100 bulls-eyes with 100 shots. In fact, she always hit nothing but the center of the bulls-eyes. If in a standing position, or sitting position, or prone position, it made no difference at all. So very soon, Private Lyudmila Pavlichenko became what she had wanted all along, a Russian Army Infantry sniper. Her goal was to kill as many Nazi Germans as she possibly could. She had a deep hatred towards the German Huns, because they had destroyed her peaceful life.