History records many famous duels between opponents right from the primitive age. There was the famous duel between Hector and Achilles at the gate of Troy, during the Greek Trojan war. There is the famous test of skills between Richard the Lion heart and the Muslim warrior Saladin.
In a similar vein a modern duel took place between a Russian sniper Rifleman Vasily Zaytse and a German officer, equally brave and determined Major Heinz König. The setting for this epic battle that lasted 4 days was the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942.
Vasily Zaytse was transferred to Stalingrad by the
Zaytse moved among the ruins of the bombed out city and picked up many German officers with his rifle. In fact as per reports during the months of October-November he reportedly accounted for 242 Germans. Figures are not important, but it spread panic in the German ranks of an unknown Russian sniper who had to be contained.
The German headquarters after due deliberation in Berlin selected Major Heinz of the German sniper school to come down to Stalingrad. He had been given a one point charter to eliminate the Russian sharpshooter as early as possible. Major König landed in Stalingrad and got down to his task. He realized that his enemy was a formidable adversary and he accordingly made plans to kill vasily. Thus
Russian intelligence also was aware of the arrival of the German ace from Berlin and accordingly vasily was called by his superior officer to get ready to face the German sniper. He was warned that Major König was the best German sniper and he headed the Training School at Berlin and thus Zaytse was advised to formulate his plans carefully.
Both the adversaries played a cat and mouse game as they stalked each other. Major König drew first blood as he was able to kill two close companions of Vasily. He assumed that he had killed Vasily and came out into the open to smoke a cigarette. Vasily saw his chance and in a split second shot the German Dead. It was a tremendous victory.
Later many Germans mentioned that the duel was fiction, but the fact is that the German archives do mention another name as a sharp shooter. There could be a mix up of names. Also the telescope of Major Konig’s rifle is preserved as an exhibit at the Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. It’s worth a look.
After the war vasily wrote a book about his duel with the German ace. By killing the German sharp shooter, Vasily has moved into the hall of the great snipers of world history. He died in 1990 and is buried at Stalingrad.