You Need to Know About Eleanor and Lyudmila
Politics and Activism

You Need to Know About Eleanor and Lyudmila

The First Lady and Soviet Sniper

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It's 1942 and Lyudmila Pavlichenko, at the age of 25, was the most successful and feared sniper in history. She had been wounded in battle four times and had 309 confirmed kills. Say what you want about the Soviet Union (and believe me I know that there's a lot to say here and a lot of that bad) they did have an army made up of men and women and that allowed Pavlichenko to go as far as she did in the Soviet army.

She was the first Soviet citizen to be welcomed in the White House when she traveled to America to stir up some American support. Stalin wanted the Western Allies to invade and force the German troops to divide their forces and relieve some of the pressure on the Soviet troops.

After hearing Pavlichenko, Elanor Roosevelt, first lady to President Franklin Roosevelt, decided to help her out and offered to go on a tour with the female sniper. Going town to town and get the American people to hear Paclichenko's story for themselves. Maybe then the American people will support going to war against the Germans?

Pavlichenko a battle-tested soldier was no doubt further tested by the questions the American press had to offer her. Questions such as: Can women wear makeup on the front lines of battle? To which she answered, “There is no rule against it, but who has time to think of her shiny nose when a battle is going on?”

The New York Times called her the "Girl Sniper" (Because why call a decorated war hero a woman right?) It was reported that she didn't wear any blush or makeup of any kind and that “there isn’t much style to her olive-green uniform.” I'm not kidding you, that was their takeaway from hearing Pavlichenko and her translator talk.

When reporters told her that her uniform skirt was too long and that it made her look fat, she told them: "It has been covered with blood in battle. It is plain to see that with American women what is important is whether they wear silk underwear under their uniforms. What the uniform stands for, they have yet to learn.”

It was only when she started telling her own stories, ones from her childhood that people began to listen. She made her point clear, the German invasion of Russia had brought devastation to her homeland. She also made it clear that women were not only capable, they were essential to the fight.

However, she was still getting dumb questions about nail polish and if she curls her hair. That is, until she got to Chicago. Eleanor Roosevelt gave her plenty of pep talks telling her to not pay attention to the stupid questions and clearly, Pavlichenko listened.

While in Chicago she stood in front of a large crowd of reporters and said “Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?”

The American did eventually join the war and together Roosevelt and Pavlichenko saved thousands of lives.

Fifteen years later, in 1957, Eleanor Roosevelt was touring Moscow and because of the Cold War, she had a restricted schedule and a Soviet minder. Roosevelt persisted until her wish was granted and she was permitted to see her old friend Pavlichenko.

The three, Pavlichenko, Roosevelt, and the Soviet minder chat formally in Paclichenko's small two bedroom apartment. That is until Pavlichenko makes up an excuse to leave. When Eleanor and Lyudmila find themselves alone in Lyudmila's bedroom the former sniper throws her arms around Eleanor half laughing and half crying proclaiming how happy she was to see her old friend.

The two historic women stood in Lyudmila's bedroom and recounted their travels and the people they had met while traveling accross America.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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