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.

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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.

stray-troika-2-ed

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

roza-newspaper-photo1

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.


Beloved

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.'”

roza_shanina_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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

DSC_0105

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.

January 15-16, 1945

These entries are difficult to read in the original Russian. Roza was in nearly constant combat by this point.

January 15th, 1945.

Moved to the village of Etkunen, in the rear of the division. This morning everyone is going to the bath, and I put on a white camouflage cloak, kissed everyone, and have already met a number of staff from the rear of the 144th Rifle Division, in one hour will be at the front, which this morning passed 20km. Nikolai Borovik wrote a nice letter, and why quarrel, perhaps I will be killed.

January 16th, 1945.

Spent the first night by the general [Donets], was received well by all the workers. The next day left, went in search of the regiment. Met Kasimov, was not admitted, and he didn’t recognize me.

Met the gunners, went on the attack in the tanks. I was in a tank. One was hit, there were serious injuries. Major Tubanov was killed, an old acquaintance of Sasha Ekimova, 8 times decorated, the rest spared.

In the evening I went to Borovik, nearly frozen solid. Get to Borovik’s dugout, not happy to meet again, but it was warm in the dugout. Frost in the tank, unaccustomed to tank smoke and it hurts my eyes; I can’t breathe these fumes. Slept like the dead.

Again, the general does not allow me to stay on the front. I went to the 216th rifle regiment, reported, but they are suspicious; it’s hard for them to believe I would be sent to the front. Regiment commander does not allow it.

I’m finally sure that I’m not capable of love. What a thrill I felt when I first saw Nikolai Borovik. But today I again saw our limitations. War, it seems, war – but my heart does not give concessions. Nikolai had no strap on his overcoat, the strap broke, and so on. I found him a slob, and the feeling of disgust drowned out love. He already has me disgusted. He went into battle, and now has been seriously injured, pity, such is war and everything.

In the platoon they already reported that I was injured, and were not looking for me there. But I don’t have [General] Donets’ permission to go with the regiment. How to explain?

Outside there is unbearable wind, the blizzard blows not just snow, but dirt as well. The earth is gray, and my camouflage already reveals me, though it’s dirty, it’s too white. Today I ate nothing all day, because of a tank smoke headache. I’m not authorized to be anywhere, because I don’t have papers, and I’m not registered anywhere. These days I’m half starved, hungry today. I do not let myself get sassy, starved for something, but there is not much.

I’m taken as a notable sniper, it seems that’s the only reason that I’m accepted. But everyone feels that I came because I have a man in this division. The regimental commander even asked this question. I decided not to love anyone, and all are still disappointed. I came, I don’t know a single soul. I endure dirt, cold, hunger. All advise (those who know – tankers, general) that I should return to the platoon, instead of suffering such a war: shooting, the rattle of death in every minute of my life.

Under fire very often. On the front was with the infantry in the 785th rifle regiment with commander Kasimov. Still they gave me a girl’s white coat and felt boots. How nice and warm.

Was attached to the rear of the 157th rifle division to protect the drivers in the platoon, and ride in the cabs. Looks pleasant, warm, easy and satisfying. This I also want. But some unknown force is pulling me to the front. Oh passion, passion, oh blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows. I am a submissive heart. I like adventures, explosions, it is particularly interesting to repel a counterattack. And if this is all there is, charge – the last irrevocable charge! Want to eat, I lost weight over the last 3 days, I can feel it.

This evening, many casualties, again we move forward and progress 10km in 5 days. 1st Belorussian [Front] 3 days – 60km in depth on a 120km front.

Sat down, thought, still write. Yes, do I still hold fast to the laws? The law makes a crawling snail of one who would rise in eagle’s flight.

I’m showered with glory. Recently, the army newspaper “Destroy the Enemy” wrote: “Distinguished Shanina was awarded the medal ‘For Courage’ for actions during an enemy counterattack – an honorable sniper in our units.” In the Moscow journal “Spark” my picture on the front page, killed 54, three German prisoners, two Orders of Glory – this was before. Imagine: the whole country reads it, all my friends, and who will know what I feel at this moment.

roza-and-zm-shmeleva2

A photo from January 20th, 1945.

Recently the poet Ilya Ehrenburg wrote of me in an army newspaper, thanked Starostenko,1 the captain, battalion commander, the first to enter German territory; mentioned Yurgin2 and me as notable snipers. “57 times in succession thank her, thousands of Soviet lives she saved.” And I thought to myself – this is really glory. “Glory – that or his skull split for the motherland, or someone else’s crumbles – that is glory” (Bagration said), but it’s just hogwash for the rear, and in fact, what have I done? No more than is expected of the Soviet people to defend the Motherland. Today I am willing to go on the attack, even melee, no fear, my own life has grown so hateful, I’m happy to die for the Motherland: how good, to have this opportunity, but I would have to die a nasty death. So many soldiers are killed!



1 Alexander Starostenko. Was killed in action February 16th, 1945.

2 Paval Yurgin. Was killed in action February 1st, 1945.