In the history of the Second World War the name of one sniper stands heads and shoulders over other snipers. He is Vasily Zaytse . Recognized as one of the greatest snipers of all time he has also earned the respect of Instructors at the US army school of Snipers, who study his tactics and methods.
Vasily was from a poor background and was brought up in a village east of the Ural Mountains. From his childhood he was trained to use the rifle which he used with deadly effect on wolves that tormented the villagers and their livestock.
At that time in 1942 a furious battle was being raged at Stalingrad now renamed as Volgograd in 1961. This city on the banks of the River Volga was hemmed in by a German force led by General Von Paulas. Vasily was transferred to Leningrad to help stop the Germans.
Vasily set about his task in earnest and spent some time in studying the topography of the city. Having got a hand of the plan of the city he set about his task as a sniper. He used a standard Russian rifle with no frills. All he added was a telescopic sight. Vasily is famous for his record of 149 confirmed kills, with an unconfirmed tally that may be as high as 400. Not many snipers can boast of this record.
Vasily survived the war and lived honorably till his death in 1990. He died just 10 days before the Soviet Union disintegrated and for him it would have been an emotional blow as he fought for the old Soviet state. In the turmoil he was buried in Kiev. But in 2008 his body was exhumed and he was given a fitting military burial at Stalingrad where he had wished to be buried: a place where many of his comrades had fallen in battle.
The Hollywood blockbuster film “Enemy at The Gates" is based on Vasily's life. It is a fitting tribute to a man who is a legendary sniper and whose methods are a fit subject of study.