Jewish Girl Cited for Assuming Command of Cossack Unit in Stalingrad
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Jewish Girl Cited for Assuming Command of Cossack Unit in Stalingrad

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A young Jewish girl who assumed command of a Cossack infantry battalion in Stalingrad – by means of telephoned instructions when its commander was critically wounded by enemy artillery fire, is cited in the Soviet press today as having been recommended for a government decoration.

The girl, Gita Schenker, had set up headquarters in a half destroyed building in the streets of Stalingrad and from there she redeived communication from Capt. Sergei Kruzhov, commanding the Cossack battalion, and relayed his orders to the various units of his command. Although no more than a dozen houses separated Gita from Capt, Kruzhov, on one hand, and the different units, on the other, the barrage of fire that poured into the streets made it impossible for a runner to proceed ten yards without being hit.

The Germans in this sector were attacking with thousands of infantrymen and seventy-five tanks, Capt, Kruzhov’s Cossacks were hard put to fight off the Nazi advance and young Gita was kept busy relaying the captain’s orders to his men. Through her rapid and accurate work the Soviet troops were able to correct the fire of their trench mortans and thus halt the Nazis. In the midst of a partioularly severe assault Gita suddenly found that she was unable to establish contact with the conmander. Fearing that he had been hit, the young telephonist issued orders to the different company commanders instructing one to direct his machine-gun fire to one point, another to order his men to fling their grenades and explosive bottles in a different direction, and the others to carry out similar assignments.

Gita then orept from her shelter and started to crawl on hands and knees to the house where the captain’s headquarters were located. Half-way there a German shell orumblad a brick wall above her and she was felled by flying mortar and half-buried by debris, but she crawled out of the ruins and crept on until she runche Kruzhov’s headquarters. There, she found that a German shell had completely destroyed the house and the captain lay seriously wounded, bleeding from many places. Gita first reported that she had ordered the company commanders to continue firing. Then she made the Cossack os, tain as comfortable as possible and still on hands and knees half-carried, half-dragged him to a first-aid center.

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