Skip to comments.Lilya Litvak - The "White Rose" of Stalingrad.
Posted on 06/27/2006 4:57:24 PM PDT by robowombat
Lilya Litvak - The "White Rose" of Stalingrad.
Written by Dariusz Tyminski .
Lidya Vladimirovna Litvak was born in Moscow in August 18, 1921. Lilya was her nickname. She was regarded by all as a "strikingly beautiful woman", which helped earn her public appreciation and, added to her success as a fighter pilot, served the propaganda ministry well.
Litvak's aviation adventure began when she was teenager. Having 14 years old she joined Aeroclub, and one year later she took off for her first a lone flight. Soon Lidya arrived to 'Khersonskoya' Aviation School. After finishing it she returned to 'Kalininskiy' Aeroclub, as a flight instructor. When the war began, Lidya's dream was join to the battle. The building of female units by Marina Raskova, was excellent occasion!
She began military service in the all-woman 586th IAP, where she flew mostly defense missions from January to August 1942. In August she was posted, with Katiya Budianova, Masha Kuznietzova and Raya Bieliayeva to 'male' squadrons because of her merits. They arrived to 6th IAD (after some sources it was 9th Guards IAP of 287 IAD), battling over Stalingrad front. With this unit she got her first 2 air victories in September 13, 1943. It was second combat sortie. Soviet pilots encountered formation of Ju 87s with cover of Bf 109s. In first attack Lidya killed a single 'Stuka'. Then she noticed a friend's plane in trouble - Raya Bielayeva dueled against very agressive 'Messer'. Help arrived just in time and the Bf 109 was downed. After Soviet's relations German fighter pilot (experienced ace, 'baron', and member of Richthofen unit) fell POW and this same day evening he meet his adversary. He was very surprised seeing young, beutiful, female pilot...
In the end of January, 1943, she was transferred with Yekaterina Budianova to the 296th IAP, stationed Kotiel'nikovo airfield near Stalingrad. On February 17, 1943, she was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Two days later she was promoted to Junior Lieutenant and soon after to Senior Lieutenant.
On 22 March 6 Soviet fighters encountered formation of Ju 88s. Lidya just downed one of them when she noticed attacking 6 Bf 109s. She rapidly turned against Germans to cover other surprised Soviet fighters. After heavy, 15-minuts combat Litvak's Yak returned base, but plane took several hits while Lidya was wounded. After hospital's stay she went to Moscow with order of month rehibilitaion. But after next week, in first days of May, she arrived front unit...
When she came back, the 296th IAP had been renamed the 73 Guards IAP for their exploits in battle.
On 5 May 1943 Lilya, not fully healthy after injuring, took part in aerial combat, scoring 1 kill. Two days later another Bf 109 fell in her gunsight, escaping with dark smoke.
She was wounded again in combat on July 16. This day Soviets escorted Il -2s when they spotted 30 Ju 87s in cover of 6 Bf 109s. In dramatic combat Lidya downed Junkers and Messerschmitt, shared with her leader. She landed in German-ocuppied territory, but got back to base on foot. She din't permit for doctor's examine - saying: "I'm feeling enough good to fight!"
Three days later she again took off for combat mission. On 21 July Lida flew as a wingman of unit's commander - Ivan Golishev. The pair of Soviet fighters was attacked by 7 enemy Bf 109s. Lidya fufilled her duty covering the leader, she managed to shot down one of 'Messers' attacking Golishev, but her Yak was heavily hit. She belly-landed near Novikovka village.
There is no doubt, that heavy combats, wounds, the death of Katya Budyanova (in combat) and death of close friend Alieksiey Solomatin (in plane crash) exhaust Lilya both physically and mentally...
She was repeatedly successful in flying missions, although was finally killed while escorting a unit of Shturmoviks returning from an attack in August 1, 1943 (it was her third sortie this day!). Because of her notoriety amongst the Germans, eight Messerschmitt Bf 109's concentrated solely on Lilya's Yak-1 with number '23' on board, and it took all eight of them to finally shoot down the 'White Rose of Stalingrad'. Her body and aircraft were not found during the war, but a marble monument, with 12 gold starsone for each enemy plane that she had shot downwas erected in her memory in Krasy Luch, in the Donetsk region. Litvyak had completed 168 missions, and had 3 shared victories in addition to her personal twelve. She was 22 years old when she died.
Her remains were found at last in 1979, buried under her fallen YaK-1's wing, near the village of Dmitriyevka. Ten years later her body was recovered for an official burial; and in May 5, 1990 she was posthumously conferred the title of Hero of the Soviet Union by then Premier Mikhail Gorbachov.
The Soviets endlessly used the heroic legend of what they called 'The Great Patriotic War' for purposes of stengthening party rule and inculcating zenophobic 'Soviet nationalism'. However, as this paragraph, shows they could care less about the actual remains of a real hero.
Battlefields in Russia to this day remain full or unburied remains of Soviet soldiers. The only groups working to get a decent burial for these men are some private commomrative organizations.
I saw this article listed on the sidebar, and read the story with interest. Thanks for posting.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.