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.

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.”

December 18-19, 1944

December 18th, 1944

Every day I dream of my friends Sasha and Kalya. How I miss them. I received many letters from the girls (from Karshinov, Borovik, Rumyantsev). All send their love to me. One named Vanyushenke wrote a good letter from the heart. Nice guy, Staff Sergeant. Got one from the girls I studied with, congratulating me on my success.


Kali, Roza, and Sasha

Just got out of the cinema seeing the film “Lermontov.”1 What a great effect it had on me. The character of Lermontov is me. I decided to follow his example and do as I like. It is not necessary to have someone else. His silhouette on the iron bridge, that image will remain with me; I also want to be somewhere first. Now, I can not convince anyone, and it may be bad, but I can also solve the problem in a minute, for I don’t want his life, but just to exist. So, let’s give a light, not only to some, but to many. Oh, how I like the character Lermontov.

December 19th, 1944

In the army rest home. Yes, I want something, not to distinguish myself, but to meet their expectations; it torments me. I’m always stuck in the same mood. Drove in a Jeep – well, rode, a Major did some driving. The driver, it turns out, lived near me in Arkhangelsk. He promised to give me a sniper badge, which he was given by mistake. He’s a tanker.

Here, my portrait from the magazine “Frontline Humor” on November 7th, 1944. Oh, God, so dull. Settling in OK. Now will read the book Sister Carrie.2


The picture used in “Frontline Humor”

1  Watch it on YouTube. Lermontov was a 19th century Russian Romantic poet and artist.

2  Available on Project Gutenberg. By Theodore Dreiser. Not well remembered these days, but used to be very popular in the US. His books were often critical of American society, and he was a member of the Communist Party. This made him extremely popular in the Soviet Union, and I’d wager he is currently more widely read in Russia than the US.

December 27, 1944

December 27th, 1944

When my life is good, I don’t want to write.

Was in the rest home, read Sister Carrie, Bagration.1 Good books. “Oh Carrie, Carrie! Oh blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows.” I read and thought – Theodore Dreiser wrote this for you. Or Bagration: “This is the meaning of glory – this or his skull split in the name of the Motherland, or until another’s crumbles. – Here is glory!” I will do so, by God.

I saw a lot of pictures: “In Old Chicago,”2 “Wait for Me,”3 etc… “Submarine Number 9.”4 The last one made a good impression on me. The rest I thought about a little, and they were OK, can’t tell if they were good.

Now sitting near Nikolai Federov. I’m already gone, and I think for the last time, as I do not feel drawn towards him. Yes, a month already, and I was not with him and we didn’t even talk. Issued the documents for Order of Glory, 1st degree.

Walked yesterday, bumped into a sweet little boy. “Let me give you a kiss. I’m 4-years-old and I haven’t kissed a girl.” And he asked so earnestly, I got sentimental. And really, so cute, not nasty, but nice. “To hell with you – I say – kiss me, just one time.” And I nearly cried. Why? From compassion.

“Love stands strong, it gives beauty where there is none, and forges chains which no spell can break.” (“Princess Heart”)

“Oh passion, passion! Oh blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows.” (“Sister Carrie,” Theodore Dreiser)

“This is the meaning of glory – this or his skull split in the name of the Motherland, or until another’s crumbles. – Here is glory!” (Bagration)

“You would bind my will with your laws? The law makes a crawling snail of those who would take off in an eagle’s flight.” (“The Story of my Life” – rebels’ words.)

My love

With resentment you write me, that I have forgotten you

But you must understand, I am at war, my love

So many more than I can count, waiting for letters from me

And in Omsk, and in Tomsk, my love

And waiting yet longer for me, my wife

You forget my destiny, my love

You write to me, that there is a daughter, she looks like me

So let her grow, I do not mind, my love

and where is the father, some will ask of you

Say then: “He is at the front, my love”

For the joke I’m sorry, it’s the fault of the war

And more you should not wait, my love

Although I’m very proud of you, a family waits for me

To you I’m not coming back, my love.

Outside at midnight, a candle burns down

See the high stars

You write a letter to me, my sweetheart,

in the flaming address of the war.

How long do you write, my sweetheart,

finish, rewrite again,

but, I am sure, at the front line

it will burst with great love.

A long time we are away, our room’s fire,

during the war, no smoke can be seen.

But one, who is loved, and one, who remembers

the home fires in war,

will be warmed at the front by warm letters.

In reading each line,

the beloved will see and hear their homeland,

as a voice through a thin wall.

We will be back, I know and believe,

and a time will come,

to leave sadness and separation at the door,

the house will know only joy.

And one evening, together with you,

pressing shoulder-to-shoulder,

we will sit and chronicle the war,

as a chronicle of sentiments re-read.


My greetings, beloved, as before,

I do not want to hurt you,

I’m sweet and tender,

only I look more severe.

Nevermind, my character has become stronger,

besides some coarse language.

War has new laws to teach,

and I’m used to its laws.

Here in battle we do not fear cold,

or the pounding of heavy fire,

And, like before, I’m the same as you know,

easy to know, among everyone.

Under the melody of bullets and shells whistling,

I’m going to fight again today,

in that once-new overcoat,

We stand, remember, us with you.

On to the enemy, with his bitter heart,

I will go as a our hero,

to again live free,

We will begin to live happily with you.

In the meantime, my love, believe,

I have to go, I hear the rumble in the distance,

I’m going to meet death

in the land of fire,

and when I come back from this battle,

wait for me, do not grieve,

I’ll reward you with my greetings,

and a fiery hot kiss.

If your soul is filled with sadness,

if there bursts a fierce battle,

remember the dream

and all that I had with you.

Suppose you do not come to mind,

that we do not meet again,

we always had fun.

You’re on the way with them,

all around as you are leaving

a blood-drenched land.

Know! I go through the misty field

for thee, my love.

1  Biography of the general Pyotr Bagration, who commanded Russian troops to a material defeat, but strategic victory, against Napoleon’s army at the Battle of Borodino. Roza would not have known the name at the time, but her 3rd Belorussian front was participating in “Operation Bagration.”

2  Watch it on YouTube 20th Century Fox, 1937. In English!

Recommendation for the Medal “For Courage”

Translation of the bottom section:

“Senior Sergeant Shanina, during a breakthrough deep into the enemy defenses on the border of East Prussia during the invasion of East Prussia, took an active part in the battles in support of the advance infantry, fired accurately to eliminate Nazi soldiers and officers.

During a German counterattack on 10/26/44, as part of the 707th Infantry Regiment, under the city of Pillkallen, Comrade Shanina showed exemplary courage and valor, with her presence, as a girl, showing the soul of a true fighter of fortitude and courage, driving accurate fire on the Nazis. To her credit has killed 59 Fritz.

For their courage and bravery shown in the battles of the invasion of East Prussia, Comrade Shanina is worthy of the medal ‘For Courage.'”


January 8-13, 1945

Stress warning: reference to sexual violence

January 8th, 1945.

There was no paper, and I did not write anything for a long time. Got out of the rest home and went to General Ponomarev, a member of the Military Council, to see to my goal – getting back to the front. Was sent to the commander of the 5th army, Colonel-General Krylov.1 With great difficulty I persuaded him to let me into the next offensive on February 5th, and he will give me a document to let me into the offensive. Headed for the girls to be given a new uniform, as I was poorly dressed. Ponomarev told me to do a lot, but now I see he does not carry out all orders, and it’s all just words. I sat the whole day waiting for Ponomarev, but I achieved my goal. I was quickly equipped – a sniper’s fur coat and a special jeep to take me to the medical battalion, happy. Got a coat, boots, camouflage overalls; froze on the trip, but at least I made it, and then into the freezing trenches. The overcoat has gotten short, I grew this year, and I did not like it at all; traded for a telogreika.

Went to the 157th rifle division with the girls. I did not know! My friends Sasha [Ekimova] and Toska got married. Lord, there were four girls, no, five remaining out of the twenty-seven. I don’t know what to make of this, only I’m afraid of not finding a safe place to sleep, because some girls were raped, and so easily, like before; I did not stay overnight. Sleep in the cold, today spent the night by some Lieutenant-Colonel, kiss – well there, and before I knew it, goes deeper. I tell myself lies, I say.

Yes, in my absence a good girl, Tanya Kareva, was killed. Her friend Valya L. came out of the hospital after being wounded and found out – no Tani, Valya cried. Valya Lazarenko: 25, good character and lovely, tall blonde, loves horses badly. She is one of the best independent girls in the whole platoon. In the past she graduated from the seventh class, worked at the FZO, graduated from the FZO school.2

Well, now, I’m going to fix a watch. It will get warmer, in February I’ll run away to the front. For repelling a counterattack (it was hot, risked my life) was awarded the medal “For Courage.”

January 13th, 1945.

Did not sleep all night, I feel bad, sick. Germans hit hard. Today our barrage lasted from 9 to 11:30.3 The first “Katyusha” gave a signal. Oh, and we peppered Fritz. Now the situation is still unclear. We have itchy feet.4 Oh, Lord, the noise in the dugout. The dugout is low, filled with smoke, pallets made into bunks. Just finished work again, and we advance further. Freezing, in wet boots, in frozen boots. Everyone takes coats, but I’m a northerner, and don’t need one; it is hard to walk.

2 A vocational or technical school, usually associated with a specific factory, mine, etc.

3 Start of the East Prussian Offensive (

4 The phrase in Russian is “Настроение чемоданное” (Nast-ry-eenee chemo-dan-nay), literally “Spirits are a suitcase.”

January 14, 1945

In January, 1945, Roza finally succeeded in being assigned to front-line duty.

January 14th, 1944.

Started near Lithuania and Belarus. No, our troops can’t move far; our right flank took Pillkallen yesterday, and today is hesitating again. Our left flank already pressed further. But we still hear gunfire. All morning listening to the thundering cannonade. The Katyusha heralded the beginning of the grand events. Everyone has gone to the front.

Our platoon hasn’t left supply, and I sleep out in the snow without anything to do. We are taking only what we can carry, and are mostly on foot. There are no longer enough horses.1 Well, not that we need any, none of us are ill. No dinner and no breakfast. Already been sitting for 12 hours.

Considering everyone’s behavior. Lewbov Reshetnikova is not in the platoon. She left with him.2 Yesterday wrote to Vovka Emelyanov. Congratulated him on his marriage to my dear friend Sasha Ekimova. And I wrote that our troika (Sasha, Kali, and I) no longer exists. I’m out of it, as our interests diverged and we have nothing to talk about. And Sasha will read it. If I wished to live in the platoon, then I would become friends with Valya Lazarenka, but I’m leaving the company. Made a pact with Vali not to talk in front-line language, and to not use even a single unprintable word. Whoever breaks the pact has to give the other their sugar for two weeks. Girls cuss, and we must not argue back. My Sasha has blossomed.

Wrote a letter home, in the spirit of: “Dear Mama, I’ve had a hard life and without a minute of hesitation left you in 1938. I don’t remember why, I don’t cast blame, I only beg that if I die, then give Julia an education. Please love Julia, as childhood becomes brighter in memory. Children – their joy.”3

Nikolai Solomatin wrote: “Wherever you are, noble falcon, I cherish you.” Wrote that without him I do not have a boy, etc. If I met him now, he would not deceive me. I have become more confidant; and he told me then that he loved me, and now he has forgotten, and I even learned that he has a wife. I condemned his flattery and hypocrisy, he does not love me, and I was not offended.

A photo of Chelyabinsk4 in an album of Valya L’s. Pretty young blonde. Her father, like mine, almost kicked her out of the house. We are the same, only I’m less interesting than her, but she is less educated than me. She envies me for that. “Love stands strong, it gives beauty where there is none, and forges chains which no spell can break.” (“Princess Heart”) On the second page a boy with cropped pants, shirt, with a dog, such a boy. Below, her on the front with the 159th RD in 1943. She loves horses terribly, wrote: “Being in the cavalry – you must not only love the business, but you need to have the soul of a cavalryman” – Ivan Nikulin.5 After the war, she wants to stay for life in the cavalry.

Further on us six standing in Lithuanian costumes, I and them. They also had a troika. Tanya was killed, Luda wounded, and now down to one. Here they are: Luda and Tani with Luda’s father, with Vali in the album.


Tamara Alhimova, Roza, Masha Komarova, Kalya, Valya Lazarenka, Lyuba Reshetnikova

Here is a postcard – a beautiful horse, that I gave her before the injury. Valya was wounded, too, and we left the hospital together. I wrote: “In memory of the days on the front-line, 24.10.44. Remember the march in East Prussia. On what do we base our lives, us front-line girls? I gather that there is no truth, only lies and hypocrisy. Look at us and remember… Eh, girl, where to take yourself – where there is truth? Not her.” Then, when I went to the front with the soldiers, and lied to myself that the bad ones weren’t behaving like children. Further on – “Die, but do not give a kiss without love.” – Chernyshevsky.6 Here is her poem:

When I am whiling away the difficult days,

days separated from you and my family,

I remember the past longingly,

discontented with my fate.

Of all my family I stood out

with curiosity and mysterious thoughts.

About races, and raids, and myself on a steed,

and my horse is so joyous, playful.

Oh you, so raven-black,

with a golden silk mane,

and in my difficult days,

you were my one true joy.

What a pleasure to ride in the dead of night,

on you, my eternal comrade,

under flak fire and shells together,

zipping through the storms and fires.

To know you, my friend, is to believe in you,

the one thing I loved.

If I had known and could speak,

I would say one thing to thee.

Now on a hospital bed

I can not forget you,

alone, quiet, my love.

For you, constantly sad,

do not be jealous, my beautiful,

the one I love so much.

Yes, I have to confess a little

sometimes I feel sad over Genke,

I miss him, but he does not love me,

He probably loves another.

Tells her: “Only one love.”

He and I said “Don’t forget.”

But it could not be for long,

he is ready to forget forever.

And nevermind – I forget everything,

about Genke, about first love.

And I will return to you, my comrade,

And I will caress you again7

Evacuation Hospital 3049, Kaunas [Lithuania], December 11th, 1944.

It’s frosty outside. The cannonade has not stopped, getting closer and closer, pushing on the right flank. We were ordered – move in to Eydtkuhnen.8 Not much to eat, brought sausage and bread. Our preliminary bombardment.

1 While the Americans moved largely by truck, the Soviet army still relied on 3.5 million horses.

2 No indication of who “him” is.

3 Julia was the youngest of the Shanin children, born in 1931. Roza taught her how to read and write, and would give her homework to do while Roza was at the formal school in Bereznik.

4 About 130 miles south of Yekaterinburg, near the border of Kazakhstan

6 From the novel “What is to be Done?” [“Что делать?”]

7 I can’t find this poem anywhere outside of the diary, and I’m guessing it’s something Valya wrote. It doesn’t rhyme in Russian, either.

8 Now known as Chernyshevsoye, Kaliningrad, Russia. Near the Lithuanian border. Coincidentally, it was renamed in 1946 after the author quoted in this very entry.