EPISODE 52 The Lady and Her Gun

“It's just incredible that this little hand has killed Nazis, has scythed them down by the hundreds, without missing…” — Charlie Chaplin 

“Miss Pavlichenko's well known to fame, 
Russia's your country, 
fighting is your game, 
Your smile shines as bright as any new morning sun, 
But more than three hundred Nazi dogs fell by your gun.”
— Woody Guthrie 

“Charging together, we would dash into battle and forget about everything else in the world.” — Lyudmila Pavlichenko

“Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have already managed to kill 309 of the fascist invaders. Do you not think, gentlemen, that you have now been hiding behind my back for rather too long?” — Lyudmila Pavlichenko

During WW II, women in the Soviet Union had many reasons to fear German soldiers. But in some cases it was the German soldiers’ turn to be the targets of Soviet ladies. Among the many women who would fight tooth and nail and send quite a few Axis soldiers to a premature death, one stood out among the rest. Germans would know her by name, and would grow to fear her. And they had good reasons to fear her since it was by killing 309 of them that she would become the most deadly female sniper in history. Legends about her would grow both among her own comrades and among the terrified Nazi soldiers who heard rumors about this vengeful female demon who seemed to have made it her personal mission to make them pay for any outrage committed by anyone wearing their same uniform had ever. Some told stories about how a witch in some village near Odessa had cast a spell deflecting enemy bullets away from her. Others swore that she was followed by the lord of the forest himself—a wood sprite with a huge tree-like body who protected her, made her invisible and gave her the supernatural ability to move through the forest without making a sound, to know what was happening a mile away, and to see in complete darkness as well as normal people see in daylight. She was Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death.  

Among other things, in this episode: Operation Barbarossa, caught between vicious dictators, Stalin (even better than Nazis at killing his own people), Nazi guns in front of you and Soviet guns pointed at your back, a song by Woody Guthrie, Charlie Chaplin kissing her hand, Lyudmila disappoints Yoda, bringing Belgian chocolates as a gift for your girlfriend (after looting them from a corpse), love found & love lost, bloody revenge, hanging out with the American First Lady. 

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EPISODE 38 Monster in the Darkness

 “Not since the panic-ridden days in 1888, when Jack the Ripper was abroad in the East End, had London known such a reign of terror as that which existed in this wartime February...” — Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent Fred Cherrill

What I am going to tell you is one of the craziest serial killer stories that you have never heard of. And there are very good reason why most people have never heard of this. In 1942, Death stalked London. Death came from the sky in the form of German bombs. And on the ground it came in the form of the blackout ripper—this is the name by which the monster came to be known. But publicising the infamous activities of the Blackout Ripper is not something that was in the best interest of the nation at that time. The reaction of the citizens of London in the face of the German Blitz, the bombing campaign unleashed by the German Luftwaffe, has always been portrayed in heroic terms. The traditional version tells us that tough British people took the bombing in strides. They’d get bombed all night only to emerge with a smile in the morning ready to go to work as if nothing had happened. In part this was certainly true, many British people displayed incredible courage and resilience in the face of the German attacks. And this was a great propaganda weapon for the British government. It allowed them to tell Germany ‘your bombs can’t shake our resolve. They are having no effect on us, so feel free to stop any time you want and spare yourself further embarrassment.’ There clearly is something powerful in the ability to take your enemy’s best shot and smile back at them. It discourages them, and forces them to reconsider their strategy. So, of course, the last thing you want is to let them know that their strikes are hurting you. If you were to admit that the blackout is giving rise to a huge black market, if you were to talk too loudly about the doubling of the murder rate in your city, if you were to discuss how the bombing campaign indirectly gave a perfect cover for an incredibly brutal serial killer, then it’d be like admitting that bombs were working in opening fissures in British society. And if you were to admit that, then you could be sure that the bombs would keep on falling. And thousands would keep on dying. So, the Blackout Ripper was not just any other serial killer. He was a potential propaganda weapon in the hands of the enemy. For this reason, he had to be stopped, and stopped quickly. And better yet, he should be talked about as little as humanly possible. So, if you are wondering why his Ripper-colleague, Jack the Ripper, is pretty much a household name, whereas few have heard of the Blackout Ripper, you don’t have to wonder no more. The context of WWII made burying this tale a wartime necessity. This is simply not a story that anyone in Britain at the time had any interest in publicising. 

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For those of you who may be interested, here is a lecture series I created about Taoist philosophy: http://www.danielebolelli.com/downloads/taoist-lectures/

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