In 1941, the Nazis invaded Russia. They pushed through as fast as possible to the Caucuses oil fields, stopping just short of Stalingrad. The Germans didn’t need to take the city. It was a matter of Hilter wanting to capture it, even though the two countries signed a non-aggression agreement in 1939.
Most people knew that one of the two leaders would break the agreement. It was just a matter of time. But, of course, Hitler, in his bid for world domination, broke it first.
However, Hilter did not foresee the resistance the Nazis would face from the people of Stalingrad. Instead, families stood together to defend their homes, with men, women, and children fighting alongside one another.
The men weren’t about to back down and used every resource Russia had to offer, including a stockpile of weaponry. One that they used to bring Germany to its knees.
The women just added fuel to the fire. However, one woman made a significant impact on the fighting. Lydia Litvyak was born in Moscow but lost her father in the Great Purge.
A Russian Powerhouse
At 14, she was enthralled with the idea of flying. So when 1941 came, she embellished her flight experience to join the fighter aviation regiment. In a year’s time, she was flying over the Volga River in missions.
According to her regimental commander, she was a “born fighter pilot.” She racked up enough kills to be considered an ace.
She was an aggressive pilot. Lydia put that quality to use, taking ground-fighting planes by Ore. However, she ended up disappearing.
Another pilot said the last time he saw her, she flew off into clouds with around eight Bf 109s behind her. She was not found until 1979.
Litvyak’s remains were found by Dmitrievka, a small village, and in 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev gave her the title of “Hero of the Soviet Union.”
Litvayk was not just a fearless flier. She was also Jewish. Before the invasion in 1941, Hitler sent the Einsatzgruppen through western Russia and Ukraine, killing Jewish men, women, and kids.
However, the campaign further stoked the fire with the Russians and is likely one of the reasons Litvayk wanted to fight. She was one of 800,000 women who served and was made a squadron leader.