War History Online: They say that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But if you take her love away, it gets a helluva lot worse – something the Germans would find out the hard way.
Mariya Vasilyevna was born on August 16, 1905, in Crimea as one of ten children. Coming from a family of dirt poor peasants, she was a serf – which is a fancy word for slave. As such, they could neither go anywhere nor do anything without their landlord’s permission.
It was hardly surprising, therefore, that she took to Communism like a fish to water. Awful though that may sound to the rest of us, it freed her from a life of indentured bondage and allowed her to get an education, a job in a cannery, and later, work as a telephone operator.
Then in 1925, she met the love of her life – Ilya Oktyabrskaya. The Russian Empire had given way to the Soviet Union three years before, and Ilya was a Soviet army officer who must have taken her on interesting dates because Mariya became fascinated with the military.
She joined the “Military Wives Council,” trained as an army nurse, learned how to drive cars (unusual for women back then), and how to use different weapons. She once wrote to her sister and said, “Marry a serviceman and you serve in the army.”