November 11-15, 1944

November 11th, 1944.

Called by General Kazaryan. Criticized for poor discipline, patrols, absences. During the holidays there were not any. Truthfully, our division did not do anything, but they need to make a fuss just the same. What can we do, when the “tops” don’t work with us. Our squad is working normally. I came home, Nikolai F sitting in the muddy street. He came to apologize for what he did, but there were a lot of people around, and he said nothing, and seemed sad.

I received a letter from the preschools in Moscow and Arkhangelsk. They were all proud of my achievements. Yes, my portrait was in the “Humor” magazine on November 7th. But I was too overrated. I do only what is required of every Soviet soldier, and everyone. I am famous everywhere; it’s a lot.

November 14th, 19441

  1. Captain Tishin…

  2. Captain Stepanenko Vovka…

  3. Captain Blokhin Pavel…

  4. Senior Sergeant Panarin Mishka 2

  5. Senior Lieutenant Solomatin Nikolai…

  6. Senior Lieutenant Nikolai, artillerist 184th RD, 97th regiment, 1st battalion.

  7. Major Osmak 3-4

  8. Lieutenant Ledison Vovka 3

  9. Colonel Horapov 3

  10. Captain Federov Nikolai…

  11. [scribbled out text, labeled “mistake”]… Senior Lieutenant Borovik.

I realize that I have earned honor in the army – well, on the front, but spread out over the whole Soviet Union, when I have not done much….? Just saying. Going to bed. A lot of guys are eager to see Roza Shanina… they seem, how to explain….? They see me as a beauty, or a hero? I don’t understand.

Oh, and what happened today. At night went to the 277th ID. I met with Captain Lesha, handsome, but behaves like an idiot, who does he think we are? Invited out by Arkhangelsk guy, head cook. Gave me a light, asked if I am the sniper. Spent the night with Toska, and left in the morning.

Switched to 618th regiment, settled in fine. The car was fixed, we were going with Kali to the 711th by Nikolai in the farmhouse, and all of a sudden ended up in a ditch. Spent the night by Nikolai, visited the pilot Yasha. I cannot stand him, disgusting, the things he would say, and I would rather have not spoken to him at all. Nikolai: he is madly in love with me, that’s for sure, he wrote a letter and reaffirmed everything. Was then by Major Grunichev; their group really likes me (educated, modest), but they have this one Vovka Ivanov son-of-a-bitch, and the rest of the guys are darlings.

In the evening, conversed about Stalin’s report. Did not manage to get to Grunichev, but was invited… He invited the commander of the 711th rifle regiment, and whether or not expected, the chief of the staff and division Colonel. Time was well spent, I was three-sheets to the wind, but not too drunk to light a cigarette. It seems we are not what they expected. They were offended, that I said some offensive things to them. In the morning the jalopy was fixed, and I was summoned by the junior platoon commander. Today I rely on Grunichev not to write anything to the guys in the 2nd artillery division.

November 15th, 1944. Letter to Pyotr Molchanov:

Do not go on the “hunt” now. Sitting without boots. Movement at the front. Our girlfriends were awarded. Yesterday we gave Sasha an Honorary Diploma of the Central Committee of Komsomol.

1 This is the first entry in the second of Roza’s 3 notebooks. This list is on the first page.

November 18, 1944

November 18th, 1944.

Mood is nasty, why? Was just now by Nikolai and spent the night, yet I’m still in a little bit of a bad mood. I met a boy in the artillery. Well, boy, likes me like crazy, extremely handsome and shy, but, alas! Nikolai is close by.

I remembered all of our relationship with Nikolai. I respect him very little, but respect all the same. The girls all like him, but this, I think, is only when they are comrades, and until he makes passes at them, although Sasha Ekimova might take him up on it. Lucky me. After all, I made friends with him so mechanically, not as I would wish. I remember the first day I met him on the offensive, when I “ran” to the front. Tall, dirty, mud, clay, long overcoat, like a true warrior. I respect him for his bravery, he is a Soviet soldier, but he doesn’t shine in upbringing or education – simple guy, a gunner? I remember the first days spent with Nikolai. Why do I not have the courage to reject him? The circumstances – cold and muddy, I undressed, I needed help, he helped me, otherwise, in a word, it was ridiculous. And now he likes me a little bit, and the rest I force myself, drive in the idea that I respect him, and that I miss him when I have not seen him. Why did I drive in the thought that I love him? Because after Blokhin I didn’t think of anyone, and I could not, and would not be alone, I want a friend, what else?

I now make friends with him, but I can’t understand why. He doesn’t have the character to live with style. All the treasures and presents – rags and garbage, and this he gives from the heart (suit, scarf, hat). He has no masculinity, wastes my time with picture postcards, like the other gunners, trying for my sympathy. This is not a man, a doormat; I love warriors. He fights well, but doesn’t seem like a Russian warrior, like a little girl, and I hate that.

Now with the girls, bored. Tomorrow a secret commission is coming with the artillery to monitor the girls’ behavior – I know. Oh, this army life, they all think we’re a bunch of prostitutes, and then are ashamed when they see these modest girls.

And Nikolai proposed to me, to make it easier to live together, formally, that we should be married, in the documents. No, I don’t think about marriage, even just in the documents, it would just make more gossip.

What kind of recognition of love from Nikolai? I’m not capable of feeling that, for this man, falling at the feet of a girl; I might give him the pet-name “doormat.” I still don’t understand, whether it’s true, or he’s a liar.

Singing a song with the girls: “I hate the soldiers’ suit, nowhere to rest, and we’re called ‘prostitute,’ without a bit of jest.” – and everyone crying, that’s the mood here.

Tomorrow artillery; where shall I go in the evening? And will I actually get there? So hard! Oh my God! On the front it was terrible, no success. Fritz wandering far away, shot badly. Today wrote down in the end something about I…

Dear mother, although you are not bored with me, I’m bored and have nothing to do. As you would want. No, it kind of seems that I should commit suicide, this is my future, yes, no other way. Learned in a letter from Yashka that I only had 10 minutes, and that he had gossiped about me with Captain Aseyev. No rest for him, even in the afterlife, that poor fellow.

Yes, I received a Certificate of Merit from the Komsomol. Wrote a letter to a girl – a stranger – who, like me, is eager to be in the fire of war. I told her everything. Yesterday praised the guys in the II division, today I say: bastards, messing with someone else’s mind.

An Unsent Letter to Masha

The unsent letter. This is taken from the heavily edited 1965 “Yunost” publication of the diary, which I’ve found to contain several creative additions compared to the longer version published in 2011. I’m a little suspicious of its authenticity, but Yunost does say it was unsent. Maybe she wrote it in frustration, realized she overreacted, and never sent it. It jibes with the general image of Shanina that the Yunost editors were crafting, but the story told in it also fits the time frame when Shanina was given leave to Arkhangelsk and would’ve been on a train. So take it for what it’s worth.

Greetings, Masha!

Sorry for calling you that, but I don’t know your patronym.1 I decided to write when I accidentally learned about your letter to Claudia Ivanovna.

You write that you are crazy in love with Claudia’s husband. And she has a 5-year-old kid. You ask her forgiveness for letting such a thing happen, but that you are going to build a life with her husband. You justify yourself by writing that no one else will raise his child, which you are pregnant with, and that you did not know that N.A. had a wife and child.

You write: “What would I tell his child, when he asks “where’s Papa?’” But what answer will Claudia give her son, who already knows his father well, when after the war he asks: “Why did Papa not come home?”

Maybe you are seriously now in love with a soldier you met by accident on the road, but how can Claudia Ivanovna forget her beloved husband?

Who am I? Like you I came to the front. I’m a sniper. Recently I was in the rear. On the tracks, in the train, I was thanking the people who came to see my medals. But they told me all sorts of gossip. Why? Why do others look strangely at a girl in a tunic? For that you are to blame, Masha. I could not find a place then, I can’t calm down, and now I’m returning to the front.

I often wonder how us military women will come back from the war. How will we be greeted? Possibly with suspicion, despite the fact that we risked our lives and many of us were killed in battles for the Motherland. If that happens, I blame those who couldn’t even fight off foreign husbands.

Think, that you will not be forgiven not only by Claudia Ivanovna, but by all of us. And there are many of us. That’s everything I wanted to say.

-Roza Shanina”

1  Russian names have 3 parts: first name, patronym, and family name. The patronym is the father’s name followed by “-va” or “-ovich.” In formal settings, or when you aren’t close friends, you always use “First name – patronym.” By using a pet name, Masha, and no patronym, Roza is sort of double-insulting her. Imagine saying “Hey, buddy” or “Listen, missy” in English.

November 20-24, 1944

Stress Warning: The November 20th and 23rd entries contain references to sexual violence and harassment.

November 20th, 1944

So many invitations for yesterday evening1 (Katyushniks, Commander of the 711th, Trunichev, scouts, 120th battery, and many more), but I decided to reject all of them, and go to Nikolai [Federov] for the evening, though I knew I would spend it all modestly, because it was on the front and nearly in the trenches.

I sat until dark, and after dark went to Nikolai, going so as not to concern Lena – a rival from the medical battalion. Finally, reached the artillery and, as the saying goes, could not suddenly go against my heart. Now I am crazy about Nikolai Shevchenko, and explained it to Nikolai F in a dugout under the whistle of bullets. Later I wrote him a letter, like: “But I am given to another and will never leave him…” I wrote the guys something in my scrapbook, and Nikolai Shevchenko wrote: “Know, I go through the misty fields for thee, my love.” Oh, how he liked me, but NF had not yet left, while I had not yet gone for the evening to N Sh. N Sh came to see me, and started shooting like a dual. I later reconciled with NF. In the morning came home, and said a few words over my dagger: “Nobody can hurt my feelings, Mishka Panarin was my first, not only on the front, but the love of my life, and he died.”

I sit by the major artilleryman; he likes me as a person, modest, kind. And Nikolai Shevchenko, just a kid. He immediately fell madly in love with me, and suddenly the lieutenant, chief of artillery reconnaissance, was in a delirious dream. This so cruelly played on the nerves of these guys – Nikolai, and a certain other guy, that they followed me and nearly started a duel. And where? On the front.

November 23rd, 1944.

Oh, god, so much nonsense. Yesterday Sasha [Ekimova] was posted on watch with the handsome boys in Dovral’s company, and, ashamed to be seen, left her post to use the bathroom in a ditch.2 Today she, no, yesterday – I went to give my report at the workshop, for her absence, and she was elsewhere. As with anything official, a lot of us were on her side and lied to cover for her, and we are good girls, and the guys wouldn’t lie for us. I explained to Nikolai Shevchenko that I can’t be with him, and he is with Sasha now, and he asked me not to screw around. I have done so. Let him go, happily, if he succeeds. Yes, how hard.

Oh, god, I remember that day, when we were invited to join General Kazaryan in the evening, we were not at camp, and we were unfamiliar with where we were going. And one of our girls had been violated, which was not her fault: “My life is broken, I am no longer a girl” – her words. Even though she is loved, even though this was not her first, even though she fought off the attacks! Yes, and at the gates of my sanctuary there has been more than one enemy, but successfully repelled. Truthfully, this can happen to us? Yes, and we need to be afraid.

Traveled to the airstrip, met and got the attention of Nikolai Borovik, who likes me terribly, as he now has explained. I don’t know to what extent he is being sincere, but this is how it seems to me. He’s not eloquent, and I don’t like that. That trait is a must, but how fully it’s developed is not a big deal.

Yesterday evening visited the Katyushniks, drove for a bit, jumped out of the cab and ran away, crying for a long time. Passed 15 Km, out on the front, got lost, because of the pitch-black, walked by feel and cried. Why? I do not like this life on the road, because we have to work on the front in wartime, and pay little attention to external things, and now?

I cried all the way from my heart, because it was so hard for me. I am alone at night, only bullets whistling, fires burning. Came back, went to bed and slept from 11 at night until 2pm the next day.

Tonight wrote a letter, told Nikolai F some things. Received a letter from Lukyanenko and some other tankers. I know all of them and they remember my mischievous laugh and singing “The Germans stamped, darning their uniforms,” and had seen my photo in the “Crocodile” magazine, but I have not seen it. My pictures from newspapers and magazines are tacked up in the guys’ bunk, or hung on the walls. It seems more respect me than hate me. And those who hate, because I won’t give them what they want or they’re rude, or jealous. Oh, how filthy and rude Yashka Gudkov was, when he visited. It seems I’ll be leaving in another division.


Roza in November, 1944

November 24th, 1944.

Learned that I would be leaving, that night went to Nikolai, not because I was sorry to leave, but because he had some of my things: camouflage, a book, and a watch, but I didn’t take the watch. Felt sorry for Nikolai Shevchenko. Already now I don’t want to see Nikolai F.

The girls are not home. 10 people in different divisions, a lot of crying from them.

We left in the 203rd reserve regiment. Now there is nobody, single. I spit on Nikolai F; Nikolai Shevchenko and I are not a match, it seems: short, but handsome. Will not meet Nikolai Borovik again – he’s fighting south-west of the city of Naumiestis.

Came here in the rear of the division, and spent the night in the training company. Settled well, still put up with the same Commissar.

I met the General’s entourage, had dinner, and being in a devilish mood, played the accordion like back in the apartments. Still a bit closer to the rear, and already quite different, very logistical, good. Still all the same girl talk, “Here, with us…” Oh, God, so boring, boring-something-boring, how to explain? Still, better to be with friends, more fun with them, nice to be around, and them wanting to run off with guys, to Nikolai Shevchenko or Borovik, a lot to Shevchenko, well, and I to Federov – no, perhaps, not yet.

1 First celebration of “Day of the Missile Forces and Artillery,” in remembrance of the victory at Stalingrad

2 This sentence is a complete word-salad in Russian, and this is my best effort to make it readable in English. The editors of the Russian diary publication speculate that Sasha left her post without authorization, and that Roza, as the senior officer, was blamed for it.

November 26-27, 1944

November 26th, 1944

Settled in 203rd reserve, not bad, resting today.

November 26th, 1944. Letter to Pyotr Molchanov:

Now in the reserve regiment. We are resting again. Soon forget what it’s like to advance. I understand the thirst of my life – battle. But what again? I can not get my way. Sent here, where I rarely even shoot. And now made-up holidays.1 Sasha and Lida lie in the bunk and sing “Час да по часу день проходит”2 [Yes, Hour by Hour Day Passes]. Their song even more spoiled my mood.


Roza, Lida Vdovina, and Sasha

November 27th, 1944.

Washed in the bath, such trouble, while we were naked, a bunch of naked men rushed us, picked us up! For the first time saw German frau, which I did not like.

Yesterday there was dancing. I danced so-so, but impressed – I care about people. Wanted to go for a car ride. Vovka came – can’t, not allowed, him lurking around out of jealousy.

Walking out of the bath, recalled how the Germans captured our girls. Dusya Kekesheva saw everything. She fought herself free, Shambarova played dead. Are the other two still alive somewhere? In the hands of the executioners?3 Here now are German women to take revenge on, but I don’t have the heart to do it. I’m cold-blooded.4 Surprising, but I was told bluntly that I can now kill not only Germans, but whoever, as I was ordered. I cannot; I lived such a life, and I cannot spoil the serene atmosphere. I crave war, in the present minutes it gives happiness to my life, but after it’s finished?

Walking in June, 1947

It was a beautiful, sunny day. The capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow, was back to its former bustling life. Two years have passed since the end of the war. Soldiers have returned home. Before they opened the doors of secondary schools, tech colleges, and institutes. How these people have changed after two years of peaceful life. Today – the streets of Moscow are especially noisy: Sunday. They are on the street. Two girls by Gorky Park. Their hands tied tightly together. And they are in a hurry. When they reached a white house, they stopped at the entrance. After a few minutes a third girl joined them. Her lips bright with a smile. The triplets continued their walk. A discussion started – words and wild gestures. None of them want to give up. Finally, the argument ended. Burning from the heat they slow their steps. The was silence. Before them was a couple. Slender young man in a uniform, elegantly dressed. In his hands a baby wrapped in a light blanket. Beside him a slim girl – brunette. Chatting about something cheerful. Looking at them, one could see – they are happy. The young man turned his gaze to the three girls. And then everyone saw again the front-line. Their friendship – snipers and Katyushniks.

As they passed, they did not stop. Just nodded their heads. Two years of peace had so changed these people. They were hard to track down. Girls studying at the institute, and the young man at the academy with a wife and son. It was the first meeting in the two years since the war. In two years, the whole relationship changed. Once they were great friends. So why did this young man and these girls not stop, not remember the hard times – war and all the hardships and sorrows shared together. They are so far from it now. The young man not wanting to bring these things up near his companion. The three girls continued on their way, in silence. If you looked at their faces, you would see that one of them was very gloomy. Hurt by this meeting. So ends a good front-line friendship.

Sweet Rozka, I dreamed this dream on the night of November 30th, 1944.5

  • A Ekimova

  • PS: Rozka!

If we stay alive and healthy, but scatter to different regions, I beg you – do not forget us Kalyushkoy, our brave Stray Troika.

  • A Ekimova”

1 Naval Infantry Day

3 Full story Here.

4 Lacking hatred, not like a “cold-blooded killer.”

5 Sic. I think Sasha had her dates mixed up.

November 29 – Dec. 2, 1944

November 29th, 1944.

Describing this dream, Sasha Ekimova read my diary. It spoiled things between her and me. Yes, it was my doing now, being too precious about it, because her and I are soldiers and we share everything – and sorrow, and joy. Nobody is perfect, and I don’t blame her for that negative trait I noted earlier.

Feelings! Terrible.


Roza and Sasha

Again in the newspaper office, 7km away. We wanted to leave, but could not until tomorrow. Music! The radio playing the nicest things. Poured my heart out to Agnes Butorina, that I did not dream about meeting a special someone, inasmuch as there have been new reports every minute. And the world? A mess all around. Many are already no longer girls; I do not blame them, but they conduct themselves with dignity, like Tonya P. She is a woman with honor, and that is hardly allowed on the front. But most of them are still girls.

Was a concert yesterday, handsome boys, children, danced well, and the whore “A” acting lovely, but looks like she is careless about who she hooks up with. Supply Chief – of course, to enrich herself, no love like a penguin.1

I remember two little acquaintances: Nikolai Borovik, he is less significant to me and less memorable; then Nikolai Shevchenko, although he was not a match for me, such a child. And I am not writing them, it would only be for the sake writing, and I don’t dream about them.

In fact, I haven’t figured out my future, but many options: 1) in the institute; 2) maybe, if that doesn’t work out, then – social service, give myself fully to the education of orphans, specialize in teaching preschool; 3) most likely, kill myself, when I learn the fate of the country and some family and friends. For the second, I’d still need to learn a few things, become qualified. I haven’t really thought much about it, so far off.

I wanted to train in communications, Morse code, etc. Behind the front there are courses in signaling, but I’m leaving soon. I want to have a lot of different specialties, even if I don’t work in them, just to know, in case they could come in handy. Well, finished dreaming, tired today.

December 2nd, 1944.

Oh God, how boring it was, came to quartermaster supply depot, in anticipation remembered everything, everything. The main thing: before my eyes two pictures:

1) Laying in a dugout in the 36th division, 338th regiment near Vitebsk [Belarus]. Pavel Blokhin with his pipe in his hand, shouting over the phone: “Oh, you’re such a mother-fucker.” I sit next to him, and he hangs up and smiles at me.

2) Running with Nikolai Solomatin by the Neman in the woods, on the riverbank, through the bushes, running quickly. I remember the feeling: no scarf on my head, green forest, wearing camouflage. A hot sunny day. We ran farther. Nikolai looked at me, having a hard time climbing a steep cliff, he took me by the hand and helped me to climb up, kissed, and we kept running. I got stuck on a bush and tore my camouflage, only had panties and a bra on underneath, asked for a needle and thread, sewed it up, and we kept running. We went to the high-high bank of the Neman – left field, far from the forest, the river to the right, and across the river a meadow and woods. Going quietly, looking at each other, suddenly scribbling machine gun fire to our left – it was Fritz. Quickly we jumped down the riverbank and into the bushes.

I remember that night, I went with Nikolai to some village, near the Germans. Went through the woods all night, Lithuanians led. Went around the forest to a river, came to a tall hill, made camp there. We went to relax under the bushes on a camouflage cape, then stood up, warmed coffee, boiled soup, ate… after that I don’t remember, or even what side of the front we were on. Remembered: in the village had a fierce battle, but I don’t remember any more.

I remember the big march, the rain, I didn’t even have a telnyashka2, soaked to the skin. He brought his wool dress uniform, but I didn’t take it – only took a cape. By night we were soaked, in a puddle, so much rain. We spent the night together in a horse-cart. How I liked him, singing a song: “Where are you honey, where, where are you, where are you, where are you, wherever the war threw you…”

Boredom, playing accordion in the workshop, about how hard it all is, how I want to go there right now? Forward! To where the most brutal fight is; I want nothing else. Why not, huh? Oh, these stupid commanders! Done writing.

1 Literal translation of the Russian. I think it may be a reference to “Song of the Stormy Petrel” by Maxim Gorky, wherein the “fat” penguin hides in a crevice, presumably gorging on fish, while the courageous, revolutionary petrel soars through the storm. Or maybe the supply chief just happened to look like a penguin.

2 White and blue striped knit army undershirt.

December 3-6, 1944

December 3rd, 1944

Lost Nikolai Shevchenko’s address. Oh, how I worry that I’ve mechanically eliminated the only one whose memory still warmed me. His hat often reminds me of him. A good guy. Oh, how hard, how sorry to lose N. Sh’s address. There’s marvelous music playing, and my heart sinks at the thought of it all. Tear up the letter, which I wrote and could not send without an address. My heart desires a caress. Children, friends, and someone who respects me, but that is no longer on the horizon, save for maybe N. Borovik, and that is written on running water. Tear up his letter.

Sit with Captain Sokol, once again holding the hope that I can get in to the 338th Infantry Division, though today, involuntarily, was put on Battalion Command, Company Commander, as I’m annoyed by this matter.

December 4th, 1944

Was with Major and Captain – Battalion Commander with Chief of Staff. Major Lyashenko. I was with Sasha, and we are indifferent to them. Sat from 6 to 11 and missed dancing. Lay down for the night, but did not stay, as this would be ugly, and today repented – this was last evening. Played good music and waved goodbye to each other, and even saying goodbye was hard, as there were a lot of commanders around.

Today 20km march, mud, wind with snow. Met katyushniks, left with them for the night, although the platoon commander was not authorized to. But there is no food, no sleep. Sasha and Kali went to the observation point with Vovka, and I stayed with the Chief of Staff. Sasha, good boys. All movement is impossible, as the guys have left and we have already withdrawn.

December 6th, 1944

Jesus! Help me to understand everything. Everything is so messed up – oh Christ! I’ll remember the 5th of December for a long time. Came back from seeing the guys. Valya Mochstenko arranged a confrontation, I came running ready to fight, and scolded them direct and businesslike. Supporting her were Shura Polygalova, Dusya Krasnoborova, Anya Smirnova, Dusya Kekesheva, the symbol of silence Zina Shmeleva, Zoya, Masha Rozhkova. They insulted me in front of the platoon and even shamed me like an outsider, smearing me with mud. They kept saying “Heroine” with irony. They attacked me for going AWOL, but this was only an excuse, and the real reason is that I have authority, and this is all they cared about. They decided to deprive me of this. Valya even said that I am now nothing to them. This, of course, will not be; the girls today are even more attentive to me, they’re sorry for me, and Valya is called a fishmonger. I am not so low, to sink to their talk, demonstrating that it’s not needed.

There were offenses, but I survived, and this, it seems, will will be a hazard of my work. They blamed Molchanov for this. These are good comrades, but they called us lovers, called me a suck-up – these are not parts of my character. I decided not to go anywhere, and be marked for an absence, and have them accuse me of not working like a platoon commander. They do not listen to me. I cannot just build them into commanders, and they didn’t even listen to that, and now I will check their work in the trenches, where it is needed. In short, for every problem reported in their confrontation, I intend to take action, help them to feel what it means to be at odds with the platoon commander. Although I could never say about them the things they said about me, there are many shortcomings. And they say about me: “You are a platoon commander, you do not look like a person who goes AWOL” – and I am not that immature of a girl, yes? After all, I do not do this, but Zoya does – and she began to teach me. I thank her for the knowledge. I am pleased and satisfied that she gave me this knowledge, how a platoon commander can stroll away, and I’ll let her know that it’s not for some dirty man. I now know how not to alert them. Exert every effort, and what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Kaleria wrote a letter to her sister that she is not doing well, and everything that is said against military girls. She lied; she’s a modest girl, but was upset and decided to thwart the evil, as these lies to her sister troubled her. We tore it up with Sasha.

I wrote 30 letters to all corners: businesslike, and straight-forward. Today I didn’t sleep the whole night. Only a little in the evening, then I woke up, and everything changed my mind about all the girls, about right and wrong.

You know, throughout my life at the front there was not a moment when I didn’t long for a fight; I want a fierce fight, want to go with the soldiers. I’m sorry that I wasn’t born a boy – then no one would have paid any attention to me, no one would have felt sorry for me, and I would have fought with all my heart. Now I brought up the issue: I said, “I want to go on the attack,” and Kalya and Eva, who know my nature, and all the others: “No Adventures.” And Eva proved to the girls what she heard from the soldiers, how I myself lay under a German tank. And she believes that I fought voluntarily.

I’d give anything to go and fight with the soldiers now. Oh lord, why do I have this mysterious nature? I just can’t understand, all I crave, crave a fight, a fierce fight. Everything I will give, and life, simply to satisfy this urge. It torments me, I cannot sleep.

Writing about the platoon. Alkimova says: “I don’t believe Roza has killed as many Fritz as she gets credit for.”

Maybe so. In my defense, sometimes I shoot at a lot of targets, but it’s dark, and it’s hard to tell if it was a kill or not. To be fair, I always accurately target and hit a standing Fritz, and more often get a kill than in the past. And in most cases I’m shooting at stationary targets or marching soldiers. Deserters are hard, just scare them. Sometimes I don’t write them down, sometimes I guess, sometimes no kills, but to look at my count and say I haven’t killed any Fritz, it’s false.

I remember, I was in the offensive. I can say from the heart, sincerely, in fighting the counterattack I spent 70 rounds. In the attack I was against 13 tanks, at 3 I did not shoot, but I killed 9 in all. One went through back to the driver, killed, and the other soldiers were hit and injured by the bullets, or something, from the Berdan rifle1, which was covered in mud. Did not have time to find targets or aim. And I hit at 50 to 7 meters at close range. I went prone and wounded at least 20. In the attack I often had to shoot precisely at close range, and not miss.

I remember the last counter-attack: the bullet caught him right in the helmet. Saw one head, and the tracer shot did not break through at 100 meters. Went up in the sky, and saw that it was a ricochet. Then the guys wanted to test my accuracy. I had the weapon, and five of them watched, and said… “Well Done.” Solid hit on Fritz at a distance of 20 meters and clearly killed 15, maybe more. Good hunting for us two – 35 Krauts. Because a sniper shoots accurately.

And on defense I often shot from 50 meters at standing targets, and hit in the chest. Killed 57 Fritz, not one of them an assigned target. Let them talk, I know, and everything about Sasha Ekimova. A person cannot be without negative traits, I don’t blame her, it’s how she was raised. She got used to me, and nobody else. She has started to change a bit. I’m used to her; I’m attached to her and Kali, I’m bored without them. I respect them more than anyone else in the platoon, and life is always easier to live with friends. All three of us are from different families, got 1 year in the institute, and all slightly different personalities, a different foundation. But we have some things in common; we are friends and tight.

Kaleria Petrova – also my friend. Good girl. She has no ego and a bold, very rational mind, well versed in all matters, golden memory, but a little lazy. Sasha, Kali, and I – us friendly Stray Troika.


Kali, Roza and Sasha.

[Also – ] Eva Novikova and Masha Tomarova. Eva – a little hot-tempered, but always a worldly girl. Pure, modest, independent. Masha – never discouraged, and when she gets sad, sings songs. […] After all, I also rarely cry, and sing songs when I feel heavy in my heart.2

All the girls are more-or-less pleasant, no beauties or monsters. Sasha and Masha I like most of all, they are not beautiful, but attractive. One Nyuska looks older. Lelya 22-years-old and Nyusya 23, the rest 24-25. That’s our squad. Wrote all day, I’m tired, I’ll add more later. All the letters and wrote in the diary, all on my lap and sitting in this corner, my back and arms are tired.

1 The standard rifle for Soviet snipers was the Mosin-Nagant M91/30, an Imperial Russian weapon from 1891 that was modified in 1930, and further modified with a scope and dog-leg bolt for sniper use. This was the main weapon Roza used. The Berdan was its predecessor, in use since 1870. Unlike the Mosin, it was single-shot and fired a big, slow round. It was no small task to make use of this in the faster pace of WWII combat, and it speaks to how deep the Soviets were digging into the armories to supply the troops.

2 This paragraph is omitted from the most recent diary publications, but is visible in photos. It’s barely legible, but closely resembles a passage from the Yunost edit. The last sentence is read from the photos.