17 November 2006

Enemy at the Gates

Maybe some of you didn't know about a presence of the Battle of Stalingrad before you have seen the Movie "Enemy at the Gates" in 2001. (Some dumb americans may have gone to the film, thinking that it is about a war between Oracle and Microsoft; and Bill Gates is the sniper)

It was one of the bloodiest battles in human history, between the German-Axis invaders and the Soviet defenders in 1942, which also was the highest watermark for the Axis invasion in Soviet Union. It not only turned the tide of war but also was a last stand for a country and a nation on the brink of collapse.

Every battle has its heroes, and Vasily Zaitsev is unarguably the greatest hero of the Battle of Stalingrad (and maybe the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945).

Here is what wikipedia tells about him (Warning: Boring content for boring people)

Captain Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev (Russian: Васи́лий Григо́рьевич За́йцев) (March 23, 1915–December 15, 1991) was a Soviet sniper during World War II who between November 10 and December 17, 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad killed 114 soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht and other Axis armies, including 11 enemy snipers. His military rank at the time was Junior Lieutenant.
Not every hero is good-looking...but girls like heroes anyway

Prior to 10 November he had already killed 32 Axis soldiers with the standard-issue Mosin-Nagant rifle ("tryokhlineyka", three line rifle) [4].

The snipers he trained were nicknamed zaichata, meaning "leverets" (baby hares). Anthony Beevor wrote in Stalingrad that this was the start of the "sniper movement" in the 62nd Army. Conferences were arranged to spread the doctrine of "sniperism" and exchange ideas on technique and principles that were not limited to marksmanship skills. It is estimated that the snipers he had trained killed more than 3000 enemy soldiers. Zaytsev died at age 76 in Kiev.
On January 31, 2006 Vasily Zaytsev was reburied on Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad (now Volgograd) with full military honors. Zaytsev's dying wish was to be buried at the monument to the defenders of Stalingrad. His coffin was carried next to a monument where his famous quote is written: "There is no ground for us beyond [the] Volga."

Zaitsev managed a factory after the war. Imagine that your boss is the most famous sniper in the world!

Jude Law portrayed him in the film. He looks more like a german to me, anyway.

The telescopic sight from Heinz Thorvald's rifle, allegedly Zaytsev's most treasured trophy (as in the film Enemy at the Gates), is still exhibited in the Moscow armed forces museum.

So I paid a visit to this museum and searched for an hour for this very special gun. Here it is:

Sorry for the low quality, they don't allow cameras inside..but i got it!

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