The Stalingrad Snipers.


"...await the right moment for one, and only one well-aimed shot"

Vasiliy Zaitsev

Next lines are taken from Antony Beevor's Stalingrad, The fateful siege : 1942 - 1943.

The telescopic sight of his prey's rifle, allegedly Zaitsev's most treasured
trophy, is still exhibited in the Moscow armed forces museum, but this dramatic
story remains essentially unconvincing. It is worth noting that there is absolutely
no mention of it in any reports.*

Indeed, the whole story of the sniper duel is fiction. There is absolutely no trace in 
the German military archives or SS records of  SS officer Heinz Thorwald. 
Also there is absolutely no report of the duel in the Red Army files which concentrated 
on sniper activities (the daily reports of the Political Department of Stalingrad Front to Moscow)
This great story can be classified as Sovjet propaganda.

Vasiliy Zaitsev - W.W. II - Russia  - about 400 kills.
(149 Kills at the battle of Stalingrad, some sources telling me he shot 232 German soldiers
at Stalingrad)


Zaitsev years after the battle for Stalingrad.


Biography of Vasily Zaytsev on :



Other snipers at Stalingrad.

-The highest scorer only identified as "Zikan" killed 224 Germans by 20 November 1942.

-Sergeant Passar of 21st Army was credited with 103 kills.

-Kucherenko, an Ukrainian, killed 19.

-An Uzbek from 169th Rifle Division killed five Germans in three days.

-Anatoly Chekov killed (picture) 17 Germans in two days !

-Corporal Studentov killed 170 Germans.

"Noble Sniper" Ilin, a commissar from a Guards rifle regiment, was credited
with 185 kills.

Sniper V. Kozlov, just being decorated for his 30th kill.
A sniper reaching forty kills would receive the "for bravery" and the title of "Nobel Sniper".

The fictive Zaitsev - Thorwald story :

The ruins of Stalingrad were the natrual habitat of snipers, and each army had its recognized 
champions. For the Russians, Vasily Zaitsev was the onetime shepherd who had perfected his
marksmanship hunting deer in the Ural foothills. In one ten day period, he had killed no fewer
than 40 Germans and his fame had spread into enemy lines. The Germans retaliated by flying 
to the scene SS Colonel Heinz Thorwald, head of their snipers' school near Berlin. Zaitsev
soon heard talk of the deadly Thorwald, and he set down a tense account of their dual to
the death.

"The arrival of the Nazi sniper set us a new task," wrote Zaitsev. "We had to find him, study 
habits and methods, and patiently await the moment for one, and only one, well-aimed shot."

For two days, Zaitsev stalked his rival, trying to locate his precise whereabouts. On the third 
day, Zaitsev was accompanied in his search by a political instructor named Danilov. As the 
two lay hidden, peering intently through their telescopic sights, Danilov suddenly said: "There 
he is! I'll point him out to you!" Recalled Zaitsev: "He barely, literally for one second, 
but carelessly, raised himself above the parapet, but that was enough for the German to 
hit and wound him.

 "For a long time I examined the enemy positions, but could not detect his hiding place.
To the left was a tank, out of action, and on the right was a pillbox. Where was he? 
In the tank? No, an experienced sniper would not take up position there. In the pillbox, 
perhaps? Not there, either - the embrasure was closed. Between the tank and the pillbox, 
on a stretch of level ground, lay a sheet of iron and a small pile of broken bricks. It had
been lying there a long time and we had grown accustomed to its being there. I put myself 
in the enemy's position and thought - where better for a sniper? One had only to make a
firing slit under the sheet of metal, and then creep up to it during the night."

 To test his theory, Zaitsev rasied a small plank with a mitten attached to its end. A shot
rang out and a bullet smashed into the plank. "Now," wrote Zaitsev, "came the question of
luring even a part of his head into my sights." Before that could be done, however, Zaitsev 
would have to change his own position, which had clearly been marked by the German. 
Zaitsev and a fellow sniper, Nikolai Kulikov, spent much fo the night working their way 
to a new vantage point. By dawn they were ready.

 "The sun rose," Zaitsev recalled. "We had decided to spend the morning waiting, as we 
might have been given away by the sun on our telescopic sights. After lunch our rifles 
were in the shade and the sun was shining directly on the German's position. At the 
edge of the sheet of metal something was glittering: an odd bit of glass - or telescopic 
sights? Kulikov carefully, as only the most experienced can do, began to raise his helmet. 
The German fired. For a fraction of a second Kulikov rose and screamed. The German 
believed he had finally got the Soviet sniper he had been hunting for four days,and half
raised his head from beneath the sheet of metal. That was what I had been banking on.

 "I took careful aim. The German's head fell back, and the telescopic sights of his rifle 
lay motionless, glistening in the sun until night fell." Russian sources credited Vasily
Zaitsev with killing 149 (232 ?) Germans before the end of the battle of Stalingrad.

Chuikov and Zaitsev.