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PostSubject: Soviet Snipers   Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:32 pm

Ever since I have had my vintovka I have always been a fan of Vassili Zaitsev, But I never new of all these other snipers.

Zaitsev-Myth & Fact?

Sniper Vassili Zaitsev 1943
"...await the right moment for one, and only one well-aimed shot"
Vassili Zaitsev

The story of Vassili Zaitsev has long been believed to be a historical fact. However, there has not been any documented proof that the legendary sniper duel between Zaitsev and Konig ever took place. As a matter of fact, Beevor's account mentions Koning and other accounts mention a Thorwald. I am inclined to believe that the Soviet Command invented this story to inspire the beleaguered troops of Stalingrad in their darkest hours of fighting the German onslaught. As a matter of fact, I had an occasion to interview an elderly Russian gentleman who claimed to have trained under Zaitsev in Stalingrad. When I asked about the duel, he replied something to the effect of, "Its true if that is want you want to believe". I don't doubt that many duels occurred between the snipers of both sides. However, to believe that the German High Command went to the trouble to commit the chief instructor of their sniper school to finding and killing one Soviet sniper is a lot to accept. That being said the story goes like this.....

To study the 91/30 Sniper rifle, it's useful to understand it's role in the critical stages of the Great Patriotic War. One of those critical stages was the battle for Stalingrad. The Sniper was key to harassing and demoralizing the attacking German forces. As the struggle for Stalingrad ensued, the snipers involved became Soviet heroes.

One of them was Vassili Zaitsev. He became famous after the press had discovered that he accomplished nearly 40 kills in a ten day period. He was renown for taking out his targets using a single round. It was a skill he had learned while shooting deer in the forests around Elininski, his home in the Ural Mountain foothills. On September 20, 1942, Zaitsev went to Stalingrad with the 284th Rifles Division. As his accomplishments made him a national hero, and as his fame spread across no-man's-land, the Germans took an inordinate interest in him. Major Koning was dispatched to Stalingrad from Berlin for the express purpose of eliminating the top Soviet snipers. Vassili Zaitsev, was high on his list. The Soviets learned of Konig's mission through interrogating a prisoner.

Antony Beevor wrote, "Like Zaitsev, Koning first made a careful study of the terrain and of his victims before attempting a kill. When two Soviet snipers were killed by single rifle shots, Zaitsev began counter-stalking Koning himself. The duel lasted for several days. During this time Koning shot a political officer named Danilov who was "covering" the duel for Soviet propaganda (Danilov accompanied Zaitsev and stupidly gave away their position). Zaitsev finally got Koning by offering another sniper, his assistant Zulikov, as bait. Zulikov positioned himself and lifted his helmet over a wall, where Koning put a bullet through it. Kulikov cried out as if hit. Koning made the fatal mistake of exposing himself to confirm the kill, and Zaitsev shot him dead. 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.* "*Antony Beevor - Stalingrad, The fateful siege : 1942 - 1943.

Vassili Zaitsev some 50 years later.

Other Snipers & Acomplishments

Grigori Isakov

Soviet sniper Lieutenant V. Kamensky - 23 verified kills in Stalingrad 1942 ww2

Soviet sniper Ivan Lebedev kneels at the grave of his fallen comrade - 1943 ww2 Bryansk front - Ivan killed 203 Nazis

V.Zavyalov and R.Kruglov

I will add the rest of the list later.
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