Katusha: Girl Soldier of the Great Patriotic War

Written by Wayne Vansant
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In June 1941, sixteen-year-old Ukrainian Ekaterina Andreaevna Tymoshenko, nicknamed Katusha, hears on her radio about the German Army’s advance into Russian territory. Eventually separated from her family, Katusha becomes a partisan fighter under the guidance of her Uncle Taras, learning firsthand how to fight and kill the enemy. She eventually joins the Red Army and goes to tank school, elevated to the position of Tank Commander. She, along with her other tank battalion, fights along the Eastern Front in southwestern Russia, from Barbarossa to Stalingrad. For four years she is involved in the war, eventually participating in the mechanized brigades’ advance towards Berlin through the spring of 1945.

I should disclose this is the first graphic novel I have ever read. With that disclaimer, I must admit I had a difficult time putting this book down. The story was riveting and educational (I had really known little about the war in Russia, other than the siege of Stalingrad). The pictures and dialog made it easy to follow the storyline. Although many of the characters were fictional, I learned there were many women who fought in the war alongside their male counterparts, so the storyline was credible.  If you have never read a graphic novel, I can recommend this book (even though it is quite lengthy) as your first.