Rosa Shanina – Red Army
3 April 1924 – 28 January 1945
One of the Red army’s premier snipers with a documented 59 kills. Shanina was KIA by shell fragments in East Prussia.
A native of Siberia, Shanina grew up in isolated impoverished surroundings having to walk five miles a day to school to finish grades 5 through 7. According to Soviet (laudatory) sources, Shanina ran away from home at 14 to Archangelsk and studied at a University there (at 14?). living with her brother before a college dormitory where she was known for returning at a late hour, getting back to her room by bedsheets hung out by her roommates.She graduated college in 1941/42.
When a brother died at Leningrad in 1942, Shanina asked to enlist as at that time the Red Amy actively recruited females for sniper training ‘because they had flexible limbs, and it was believed that they were patient and cunning. They were also thought to be more resilient than men under combat stress, and more resistant to cold.’ She reported for training in June 1943 over objections of her local commissariat (Draft Office) trying to keep her away from the war. Accepted at the Central Female Sniper Academy and graduating with honors, Shanina was offered an instructors position. She declined, joining the 184th Rifle Division on April 2,1944.
On April 5, she scored her first kill. Shocked at first, the recovery was swift; she quickly evolved – performing with little emotion – indeed she felt killing the enemy as a crusade – her life’s purpose. Awarded The Order of Glory 3rd Class the month she reported for duty, Shanina killed 11 Germans between April 6th through the 11th. In May her score increased to 17 and the media began to notice her. Before commencing ‘Operation Bagration’ (the destruction of Army Group Center) on June 22nd 1944, female snipers were banned from the front. Shanina simply disregarded the order and went anyway. She wrote her Corps Commander, Krylov and Josef Stalin for permission to go beforehand. The result: sanctioned, no court martial. The Sniper advanced along the Vitebsk-Orsha thrust and then to Vilnius.
‘Shanina became known for her ability to score doublets (two target hits made in quick succession).’ From a passage in her diary: ‘the unconditional requirement—to outwit the enemy and kill him—became an irrevocable law of my hunt’. She was certainly physically tough, patient, a serious (learning) practitioner of her craft and highly motivated. In her diary written between October 6,1944 to January 24,1945, she refers to her kills as ‘reds’ and ‘blacks’’; soldiers were prohibited from keeping diaries. By the end of August 1944 the count had risen to 42. Her 184th Division was the first to cross into East Prussia. Allied media (Canadian) began articles on her prowess and she was awarded the Order of Glory 2nd Class in September 1944. Eligible for first Class of the Order in October, she was instead given the Medal for Courage
for actions in the Schlossberg, East Prussia area.
An enemy sniper hit Shanina in the shoulder on December 12,1944. She returned to duty after a short while, and on January 8,1945 she was formally allowed to go into front line combat – a little after the fact. On or about 15 January she was came under German mortar fires and also her own ‘Katyusha rocket launchers which scared her more than the mortars. In this time period she accounted for 24 more Germans and began to have some premonition of death. On the 16th – an entry mentioned she might be killed as her battalion had lost many and the last entry mentions very heavy German shellfire and having to take cover behind self propelled guns.
On 27th February 1945, she was badly wounded trying to save an artillery officers and was found, chest torn open, by a couple of Red Army men who hurried her to a field hospital. Shanina died the next day – telling a nurse she had done little.
“Boundlessly and recklessly talky”, a fan of the poet Lermontov, a volleyball player, devastated when her boyfriend (front boyfriend) was killed in combat she fell in love with another. Her entries just before her death are filled with Foreboding and depression.