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the 1st of November 1942, the soviet union was at the brink of losing their beloved city of Stalingrad, the only thing that was helping the Soviets win some time to prepare for another thundering blitzkrieg was the river crossing beside the city. What they needed was hope, hope that would raise the morale of the soviet army and not only that but the soviet people. What they needed was an inspiring soldier with a deadly aim that would frighten the German soldiers. A new type of warfare was to be awakened on the eastern front.

Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was a young man from Yeleninka Russian, there have been many stories of him hunting deer and wolfs with his grandfather since the age of 5. Sadly his aim was never recognized at the start of his bare training that was offered. All that Stalin was proceeding with at the time was ‘cannon meat’ (an expression used in the early wars describing the soldiers that were sent to the front lines, as most of them were assured to die is just as hitting the enemy with live meat.).

He was one of the lucky few to survive the counterattack of Stalingrad. Blocked behind enemy lines, he has found a Mosin (Russin rifle chambering 7.62mm) with five rounds, and under the eyes of an officer as a witness, he has had five perfect headshots taking out all the guards in order to secure his escape as well as the escape of the officer.

Vasily’s rifle that can be found in Moscow’s History museum

After the reports of officer Vasily made it to the front page of the Moscow newspaper which was read by all citizens, this is what offered them hope as well as the courage to fight by all means necessary. As time went on, Vasily kept ranking up kills reaching an outstanding number of 255 confirmed axis kills and even taking out 11 axis snipers in his time of service and duty.

Many say that he was quite an influential factor when it came to the turnaround of the red army in second world war 2. This also him putting some fear into the german army showing them that they are not the golden army they impose to be.

I am a stone.

I do not move.

Very slowly,

I put snow in my mouth,

then he won’t

see my breath.

I take my time.

I let him come closer.

I have only one bullet.

I aim at his eye.

Very gently, my finger

presses on the trigger.

I do not tremble.

I have no fear.

The most difficult challenge that Vasily faced was Major Erwin König. His name represents an apocryphal Wehrmacht sniper that was allegedly the best sniper that the german army possessed. They have hunted one another for three days in the ruins of Stalingrad. They were both highly skilled n what they had been doing, however, from a technical and strategical point of view the major had the upper advantage (especially with the professional sniper schooling he had gone through).

Vasily knew he was better and at the same time, the major was not underestimating Vasily as he has proven his capabilities. In the end, it has proven that the experience on the battlefield that Vasily had won the battle between these two legends.

Major Erwin König in his days at the Wehrmacht Sniper School Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The life of this hero of the Soviet era lived throughout the war with pride and fought a war not only for his country but, for himself and, at the same time, for the people of the Soviet Union.

He did not care about the fame that his efforts in the war brought him, and for good reasons, he always kept his patience, and calm and, most importantly, was realistic about what was to come ahead. He knew that this war was going to be harsh, but, at the same time, he was sure that this war would bring victory to the red army.

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