December 7-17, 1944

December 7th, 1944.

Went to the bath, sighted rifle and briefed platoon, and took the whole day.

I wrote Comrade Stalin1 a letter, that I was transferred to the battalion, and that I want to take the offensive.

The girls are 15 people in all. Five, I know, became women as civilians, and seven others, it seems, during the war. All the same base needs. I went with guys, as you would as civilians. In 8 months four kissed me and not randomly – I knew them. One time I was going with two at the same time. This is not good, but it happened like with civilians, this I admit, because in every women’s soul a word looms large – slut. Already more than two weeks and I have not seen any of the guys I know – dreary.

Received a letter from Misha Pumyantchev – good guy, Deputy Battalion Commander in combat with the 184th Rifle Division, Senior Lieutenant.

Oh Christ, we have Fritz starting to make mischief. From the 277th Rifle Division they dragged the battalion commander with his deputy – and they talked. In the Shtrafbat – regiment commander. Snipers, if taken, much to say; we know the whole army, not only our division, and we are found in every place. And yet Nesterova and Tanailova did not say anything when they were tortured by Fritz – brave, although they called out for help. I saw their pictures in a German newspaper, only they were old, from Red Army passports. Finished, going to sleep.

Yes, I remember my favorite things about Arkhangelsk: foreign sailors, Importklub,2 “Dynamo” stadium, the big theater, the cinemas “Edison,” “Ars,” “Victory” – here are all the cultural centers laid out before your eyes.


Arkhangelsk in the mid-’30s

Zina Andreeva from Alma-Ata, Tosya Kotelkina from Kuybyshev [now Samara], Anja Kuznetchova from TASSR [Tatarstan], Tamara Alhimova and Kalya from Moscow: Taganka and Kropotkinskaya.3 The rest: Sverdlovsk, Moltovsk – Urals, Arkhangelsk, Siberia – from Omsk Masha Rozhkova. Finished.

December 9th, 1944.

In the evening went to listen to records with the major, chief of the operations division. Sad records: “Yes, Hour by Hour,” “Coachman,” and others, overwhelming sadness. I let go – at first restrained, and later could not hold back, he even teased me, – I violently cried, and this “Yes, Hour by Hour” I’ve heard 10 times. Later he said: “Will you drink vodka?” I say: “Let’s go! Just enough, until I’m drunk,” and prepared, gathered my things: hat, mirror, and his lantern, so we wouldn’t have to search for them later. He poured it in a teacup, very big. Drank and asked for more again and again, and I remember absolutely nothing. Nothing to snack on: “Again,” I say. “Yes, Hour by Hour” played. Later, I remember, I went with that buddy, an officer, to his office, began to talk. And I benefited: I stole stuff, lantern and – ran, and all evening cried violently and piss drunk. Got up in the morning – bored, very early, pounding headache, all the bed sheets in a knot, all put back in order and again feeling sad. Again wrote a letter to Comrade Stalin.

A guy from a neighboring position wrote me a delicate letter, explained and confessed things, asked for visit, but I decided not to. All I wrote to him: “Can’t” – delicately explained, I’m not the one, that’s all. I don’t pay attention to them, and I will leave, and they say: “Platoon Commander,” “heroine,” etc, better not to get involved. Stay, sad, and the guys here I’ve already not seen for a long time, although we live close to each other – 3km. At home I’m writing a short letter with snapshots and postcards, but I do this often.

Yes, today I overheard a conversation between Dusya Krasnoborovna and Masha Piskunova. Said in front of everyone that we have only three girls [edited]. This I did not expect. Oh, lord, here I vouched for them, when really they had. [edited] Sank to the extreme. We have [edited], I, [edited] – these are for sure girls, and it is doubtful there are more. Oh, lord, so base, so bad, but nothing to do – facts. Not without reason it’s said about the front, that it’s considered weird, if one is a girl, in the fullest sense.4

December 13th, 1944.

Mustered with the women’s division. In the evening, day before yesterday. Many talked about me, said I showed a good example. Our snipers were given an OK concert by the entertainer Zoe Mikhailova, she is well-developed, buxom. There was a medical examination of the sniper girls, from the platoon 7 turned out to be girls, but how accurate this is, I don’t know.

12th I was wounded. It’s amazing: I had a dream, a dream that I was hurt. Then I was sitting on the lookout point, remembered the dream, and it seemed like I was hurt in the right shoulder. Less than 5 minutes later a Fritz sniper hit me right in the spot where I had seen the wound. I didn’t feel much pain, like something was enveloping my whole shoulder. Bandaged, I didn’t require any assistance, but I was forced to leave home, alone, for the field hospital, though I didn’t want to. During the operation it started to hurt, wanted to go home, to my division, but I wasn’t allowed, because they had to operate. It seems the wound – trifling – two holes and a cut – will not heal for a month.

Now I lay in the hospital, the whole shoulder joint is sore, but not too bad. I think I will run away, what will happen next – I don’t know. I liked one nurse – well, a female physician, a Major, and the rest here are ignorant. Was invited by the guy snipers to join them for the evening, but, alas, I am being treated, and am not at home, will go without me.

December 17th, 1944. Letter to Pyotr Molchanov:

Goodbye to treatment. The wound is still worrying. I was sent to the army rest home. It’s actually good there. But I want to discuss it with them. They did not ask if the hospital might be better? From the hospital I might command a battalion, and not the sniper platoon. Why do I want to leave the platoon? Not because it didn’t take. My character is quite good, with many friends, although, obviously, there will always be disputes. But it’s still too quiet there. I already want to work again. This is my need, instinct. How do you explain that? Well, you know, I long for battle every day, every minute. I can be more useful for our common cause.

1 Yes, The Joseph Stalin. Roza was certainly not lacking in chutzpah.

2 Special wartime club for foreign sailors traveling with the arctic convoys.

3 Taganka is a district in Moscow, and Kropotkinskaya is the Moscow metro station.

4 This paragraph is heavily edited/redacted in the most recent diary publication, and the entry was omitted completely in previous publications. Yes, there was front-line hanky-panky, just like in “Enemy at the Gates.”

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