You’ve probably seen ads by now for that new movie starring Ed Harris called “Enemy at the Gates.” It’s about a duel during the battle of Stalingrad between a Russian and German sniper. I remember reading a similar story in TIME-Life’s book series about WWII, and I had always assumed the story the movie is based on was the same one and was true.
Then I saw this web page As you can see, the green type and astericked portion (scroll down a bit) throw the validity of this event in question. (Actually, it states flatly that it didn’t happen) Below this, the site gives an account of the affair supposedly written by the Russian sniper Vasiliy Zaitsev himself. I recognized this account as the one I read and assumed to be true. But because of what this page says earlier now I wonder. Frankly, I want this story to be true. It’s great drama, and the fact that there are no records to support it is meaningless given the surrounding circumstances, i.e.- war, poor Russian record-keeping, the German army getting slowly slaughtered, etc.
So now I submit this whole affair to the unknown and unknowable wisdom of the Straight Dope. Did this event ever really happen? I’ve already seen one movie review website that treated it as true.