Valentina Shulgina, the last surviving woman who fought at the Battle of Stalingrad, passed away on Sunday at the age of 101.
She left for the frontlines of the Second World War aged just 19, taking command as lieutenant of a medical platoon of 21 people, having just finished training in the city of Tomsk as a paramedic and obstetrician. In August 1942, her platoon was sent to forward positions at the Battle of Stalingrad, considered the greatest battle of the conflict, a bloody urban clash that ground the Nazi German offensive to a halt. There, she suffered a traumatic brain injury.
“The Germans threw themselves into battle 14-15 times a day. I carried 120 wounded out of combat in one day, and the orders were to evacuate their weapons, too” the veteran told Sputnik in February of this year, the 80-year anniversary of the battle. “Telegraph poles burned, surrounded by unending screams and moans of people, and this continued for 200 days.”
After the liberation of Stalingrad, she was sent to Kursk, scene of the biggest and bloodiest tank battle in history. Her platoon, originally with 21 people but now down to just a few, was reconstituted after Stalingrad but lost 19 women at Kursk, according to Shulgina. She earned her medal ‘For Courage’ there.
She saw war-torn Belarus, Poland, Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad), and finally Berlin. She wrote a message on the walls of the Reichstag with the Red Army forces that took the Nazi capital.
From there, now a five-times-decorated officer, she was sent on to Japan and Port Arthur, where the war in the East was still ongoing. There, she met her husband and the couple was demobilized in 1953 and moved to Abkhazia a year later. She finished university in Moscow, and went on to work as an accountant in Abkhazia in the years following.
She was deeply hurt by how memorials to the soldiers of the Red Army have been treated outside of Russia in recent years. “Shameless! When they welcomed us back then (in 1945), they hung on our tanks and embraced us. And now, when the question is raised – they remove the War memorials. Shameless! They have no more conscience” she told RIA last year on Victory Day.
On the 80-year anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, she received a congratulatory telegram and flowers from President Vladimir Putin thanking her for her service and wishing her good health.
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