On This Day in History: October 21

Mariya Oktyabrskaya buys a tank to kill Nazis to get revenge

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What is love? Love is when your husband is killed fighting the fucking Nazis, and you’re so fucking pissed and screaming for vengeance that you sell all your possessions to pay for a Soviet T-34 tank to fight back. But you add strings to the purchase. You demand that you’re the one who gets to drive it into battle.

--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: October 21, 1943--

Born in 1905 in the Russian Empire, Mariya Oktyabrskaya married a Soviet army officer in 1925. She became an army nurse and was trained with weapons and to drive vehicles. And then the fucking Nazis invaded, and her beloved husband got dead in 1941. She’d been relocated to Siberia and the news took two years to reach her. When she learned of it, she wrote a letter to Stalin himself saying she was buying a tank, writing of her desire to command it. “My husband was killed in action defending the motherland,” Mariya wrote. “I want revenge on the fascist dogs for his death.” Stalin said okay, go get ‘em.

It should be noted that the Soviet Union wasn’t a bastion of feminism, but rather became desperate enough that in many cases they said yeah okay we better let the women fight too or we’re fucked, and not in a good way. Mariya named her tank Fighting Girlfriend and was trained on how to drive and fix it.

She fought her first battle on October 21, 1943, driving the tank headlong in the thick of fighting and destroying fucking Nazi machinegun nests and artillery emplacements, blowing dozens of Germans into bloody gobbets of nazi-schnitzel. And they were all baby don’t hurt me no more and she said fuck you you Nazi fucks Ima hurt you a lot more. Her tank was damaged in the battle and she disobeyed orders to stay put, instead leaping from Fighting Girlfriend to repair it while under fire, then got back to killing Nazis. After the battle she was promoted to Sergeant Oktyabrskaya.

She then wrote a letter to her sister explaining of killing Nazis, “Sometimes I’m so angry I can’t even breathe.” She fought another intense battle the following month. Her reputation as a skilled tank commander grew and more fucking Nazis died under her gaze. Alas, her final battle was fought on January 17, 1944, during the Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive. During fierce fighting she sent many other enemies off to Nazi hell, but once again the track on her tank was damaged and she leapt from the turret to fix it. She managed the repair but was struck in the head by a mortar fragment. Mariya Oktyabrskaya died in hospital two months later and was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union.

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