When Lyudmila Pavlichenko tried to join the Soviet Army in WWII, she was denied because she was a woman. After eventually proving herself as a skilled shooter, she went on to become "a terror to the Nazis" in World War II.
Growing up, Lyudmila was described as an unruly child who wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty. She participated in a youth military program called OSOAVIAKhIM, where she first learned to shoot.
“When a neighbor’s boy boasted of his exploits at a shooting range,” she told the crowds, “I set out to show that a girl could do as well. So I practiced a lot," she said.
Although Lyudmila was 1 of 2,000 female snipers in the war, she joined the ranks of the best snipers of all time. With 309 total confirmed kills, 36 takedowns of enemy snipers, and 187 kills within her first 75 days at war, she was one of the most feared enemies of the Germans. She was also only 25 years old.
She was wounded 4 times during the war, but was unstoppable. Desperate to kill or have her on their side, the Germans tried to persuade her to join their forces. Of course, she declined. On another occasion, the Nazis had to bomb her location because she was taking down too many of their soldiers. Lyudmila escaped with a shrapnel wound on her face.
But unfortunately being a notorious sniper and decorated war hero wasn't enough for some. In 1942, she traveled to the United States to visit President Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. She gladly fielded questions from American reporters, until one actually asked if she wore makeup to battle.
Pavlichenko responded: "There is no rule against it, but who has time to think of her shiny nose when a battle is going on?”
That wasn't all. The media criticized her appearance and drew attention to the lack of fashion in her military uniform. She snapped back: "I wear my uniform with honor..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.”
Lyudmila was became an advocate for women's rights, reminding women of their value and contributions to society.
"One of the most important things is that every woman has her own specialty," she said. "That is what actually makes them as independent as men."