DRB History Issue: World War Two

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Compilation of the most impressive and historically-rich images from the World War Two era

With coming celebrations of the historic victory over the Nazis, we present the first installment of DRB History Issue dedicated to the World War Two. Such highly-visual overviews of certain periods in history will regularly appear on DRB, so give us your input or more fascinating information and facts that you happen to know, to include in the future installments.

Soviet Russia: Female Fighter Pilots and Female Soldiers of the WW2

There are many things wrong with putting "women" and "war" together in one terrible reality, but such was the order of things during World War Two that female soldiers (and often even child soldiers) joined the fight during the bloodiest battles and became heroes, either nameless or immortalized in war chronicles:

(left: female Yugoslav partisans from the Kozara mountains; on the right is a good photograph of female sniper Roza Shanina; image via)

Here is Captain Maria Smirnova of the "Night Witches" air squadron, smiling for the camera:

(image via)

This deceptively cheerful girl flew 950 missions (!) braving mortal dangers - here are her recollections of these times:

"We faced risks every night. You shouldn't interpet my words and think we faced death openly and bravely - it is not true. We never became accustomed to fear. Before each mission and as we approached the target, I became a concentration of nerves and tension. My whole body was swept by fear of being killed. We had to break through the fire of anti-aircraft guns and also escape the searchlights. We had to dive and sideslip the plane in order not to be shot down. All this affected my sleep enormously. when we returned from missions at dawn, I couldn't fall asleep: I tossed in bed and had anxiety attacks. Fear was always an inseparable part of our flights, but we knew we had to go through with it for we were saving our Motherland." (source)

Another brave Soviet fighter pilot was Lydia Litvyak. This Jewish girl was often called “the White Rose of Stalingrad”, or "White Lily" - info:

(image via)

This brave girl "had at least 12 solo victories four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions, over about two years of missions. She was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace, and she holds the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot" (source)

Shown with her airplane, Soviet pilot Mariya Dolina was a member of the 125th Guards Bomber Regiment "where she ferried infantrymen and supplies to the front lines of Stalingrad. Soon thereafter, Dolina made her first bombing run, hitting German ground forces at Stalingrad. She flew seventy-three missions during WW2 and continued to serve in the Soviet Air Force after the war ended."

(image via)

Along with Lydia Litvyak Katya Budanova also was one of the bravest and seriously "kick-ass" pilots during World War Two; starting as a flight instructor in 1937, she ended up with eleven victories as part of the 586th Fighter Regiment, battling over Stalingrad and Saratov. After downing so many aircraft, and due to her aggressive piloting skills, she was soon given the highly-coveted right of "solo hunting" -

(image via)

Here is the female crew of the Pe-2 bomber from the 587 esquadron:

(image via)

Soviet Army sniper girls and lovely nurses

Shown below, another Russian girl soldier takes a few moments to relax (left); on the right is a Soviet sniper Roza Yegorovna Shanina. She was only 21 when she died in 1945; however during her short life she was responsible for "fifty four confirmed kills, including 12 enemy snipers, during the Battle of Vilnius" - more info:

(left image via)

Here are the Soviet sniper girls together in one glowing photograph:

A lovely nurse (as well as a reconnaissance officer) Ekaterina Mikhailova-Demina was helping soldiers at the front lines of Stalingrad and been scouting German lines during the counteroffensive in 1944. According to some sources, his gentle-looking girl personally assaulted a German position and took fourteen (!) prisoners while fighting in Ukraine. This lady is still alive today:

Russian photographer Natalia Bode volunteered to the front lines after her husband died in the war; she took many highly-praised photos of fighting at Stalingrad for the Soviet Army newspaper:

A nameless girl looking out of the army truck in 1944:

(image via)


The most incredible epic photograph of the D-Day

Operation Overlord commenced on 6 June 1944 (together with "Operation Neptune" better known as D-Day). Here you see tank landing ships unloading supplies on Omaha Beach, preparing for the break-out from Normandy - click to enlarge:

(image via)


Carpet bombing of Dresden - and the resulting firestorm

American writer Kurt Vonnegut famously compared the view of Dresden after the Allied fire-bombing as being like the "surface of the Moon". Dutch city of Rotterdam also suffered the similar devastation from carpet bombings. Here is the view from the Dresden city hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city: - see here

For comparison, here is the same area of Dresden before the war (the city was often called "Florence on the Elbe", Elbflorenz):

Read this harrowing tale of surviving the destruction of Dresden and the resulting fire-storm: written by Victor Klemperer, the book of his Nazi years diaries can be ordered here; it is probably the most unsettling and extreme witness account of this event available to us today.




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post!
I read it and reposted with translation and links.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First photo, bottom left corner: picture from 1973 soviet movie "A zori zdes tikhie". Probably Olga Ostroumova.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'd be skeptical about those soviet war heroes. consider the situation, what was then. heroes had to be approved by communist party. too ideal communists and self started heroes where sent to gulag along with non-wanted people.

Blogger eclecticOneironaut said...

I'd appreciate if you deleted the first sentence of the article-- the 'women' and 'war' part-- I find it unnecessary and misleading; nothing inherently 'wrong' about women soldiers, just people stepping forward to serve their country.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

idd be sceptical of anonymous american warmongers 'warning' for heroic russky wargirls in all the wrong places lol ..go back to your atomic shelter..

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Soviet forces in WW II bore the brunt of the fight against the Nazis. No other country came close.

I have nothing but deep admiration and respect for their courage and sacrifice.

However, as one other commmenter said, one must take these pictures with a grain of salt. It's highly likely that these are propaganda pictures and one must not forget the puppetmasters behind the scenes, the likes of Stalin, Voroshilov and Beria. They were surely as evil as the Nazis jaggernaut and many in the Red Army their victims as much as the victims of the Nazis.


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