The Fighting Girlfriend

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Your husband goes off to war and gets killed in battle. What do you do?

Well like any other wife you would sell all your belongings and with the money earned from that sale, you go an acquire a tank, to take revenge.

It sounds like a great plot for a revenge movie directed by Quentin Tarantino perhaps, However this is exactly what Mariya Oktyabrskaya did.

Her husband was killed fighting the Germans in Kiev in 1941. Mariya only found out 2 years later.The news enraged her and she was determined to take revenge. In order to do this she sold everything she had, and then went straight to the chief himself, Stalin. She wrote him the following letter.

“My husband was killed in action defending the motherland. I want revenge on the fascist dogs for his death and for the death of Soviet people tortured by the fascist barbarians. For this purpose, I’ve deposited all my personal savings–50,000 rubles–to the National Bank in order to build a tank. I kindly ask to name the tank ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ and to send me to the front line as a driver of the said tank.”

Stalin had no choice but to agree. The propaganda value would be priceless and it would provide for a much needed boost to the morale. With Mariya’s money a T 34 tank was bought.

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Mariya received 5 months of training, which was uncommon because usually tank crews were rushed straight to the front line with minimal training.

After the training she was assigned to the 26th Guards Tank Brigade in September 1943, where she soon took part in the Second Battle of Smolensk.

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Although other tank crews regarded her as some kind of publicity stunt, she got the chance to prove them wrong.

During her first battle, Oktobskaya showed some excellent tank handling skills and helped in destroying machine gun nests and artillery positions. Whilst under heavy fire, her tank, “The Fighting Girlfriend,” drove  through enemy lines, but was badly damaged in the process.

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Oktyabrskaya, disregarded orders, leaped out of her tank and fixed the tank, amidst heavy fire. Because of  this feat she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Her last battle was on 17 January 1944, she fought in another night attack as part of the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive. It would  be her last.

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The attack took place at the village of Shvedy near Vitebsk. She neutralized resistance in trenches and machine-gun nests with her Fighting Girlfriend. and she and her crew  also destroyed a German self-propelled gun. Subsequently, the tank was hit by a German anti-tank shell,and  the tank once again suffered damage , Oktobrskaya tried to pull the trick once again. She managed to repair the damaged track but was hit in the head by shell fragments and lost consciousness.

She was transported to a Soviet military field hospital at Fastov, near Kiev, where she stayed  in a coma for two months, before finally succumbing to her injuries / She died on the 15th of  March 1944. In August that year, she  was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Mariya

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Source

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Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo.

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If there is one book and movie that should be in the curriculum of every secondary school it is Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo.

The most famous heroin addict was still a child when she entered into the drug world. Her descent to heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of West Berlin was turned into a book then a grim biopic in 1981.

This was also set in the background of the cold war and the divided city Berlin. Although East Berlin is always seen as a bleak place, the story of Christiane F. AKA Christiane Vera Felscherinow does paint a bleak picture of the Utopian version of West Berlin in the late 70s/early 80s.

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There are some that refer to its film adaption Christiane F. (1981) as the perfect piece of anti-heroin propaganda. Based on a true story, it’s a barren and hopeless depiction of youth lost – showing kids going through withdrawals and injecting in filthy public bathrooms. Immediately controversial on its release, some critics said the opposite – that it glamorised addiction, making teens think that a Bowie-soundtracked, opiate-induced haze is an ideal state of being.

Christiane Felscherinow was still a child when she became the most famous heroin addict in the world. Her descent, aged 13, into heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of West Berlin

Thanks to a cameo from David Bowie and all the footage of disturbingly young people injecting heroin, the film quickly became a cult hit. And it wasn’t long before the real Christiane F was catapulted from a life of shooting up and turning tricks in West Berlin’s public toilets to becoming the so-called “junkie princess,” injecting heroin while hanging out with artists and celebrities in Los Angeles.

Felscherinow was born in Hamburg, but her family moved to West Berlin when she was a child. They settled in Gropiusstadt, a neighbourhood in Neukölln that consisted mainly of high-rise concrete apartment blocks where social problems were prevalent.

High Rise Berlin

 

Felscherinow’s father frequently drank large volumes of alcohol and was abusive towards his two daughters while her mother was absorbed by an extra-marital relationship.

When she was 12 years old, she began smoking hashish with a group of friends who were slightly older at a local youth club. They gradually began using stronger drugs such as LSD and various forms of pills and she ended up trying heroin. By the time she was 14, she was heroin-dependent and a prostitute, mainly at West Berlin’s then-largest train station Bahnhof Zoo.

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During this period, she became part of a group of teenage drug-users and sex workers of both sexes.

Two journalists from the news magazine Stern, Kai Hermann and Horst Rieck, met Felscherinow in 1978 in Berlin when she was a witness in a trial against a man who paid underaged girls with heroin in return for sex. The journalists wanted to disclose the drug problem among teenagers in Berlin, which was severe but also surrounded by strong taboos, and arranged a two-hour interview with Felscherinow. The two hours extended to two months, as Felscherinow provided an in-depth description of her life, as well as those of other teenagers, in West Berlin during the 1970s. The journalists subsequently ran a series of articles about her heroin use in Stern, based on the tape-recorded interviews with Felscherinow.

The interviews were extensive and the Stern publishing house eventually decided to publish the successful book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo in 1979. The book chronicles Felscherinow’s life from 1975 to 1978, between the ages of 12 and 15 years, and depicts several of Felscherinow’s friends, along with other drug users, as well as scenes from typical locations of the Berlin drug scene at the time. The narrative of the book is in the first person, from Felscherinow’s viewpoint, but was written by the journalists functioning as ghostwriters. Others, such as Felscherinow’s mother and various people who witnessed the escalating drug situation in Berlin at the time, also contributed to the book.

After the initial success of the book and the film, Felscherinow found herself becoming something of a celebrity, both in Germany and other countries in Europe. A subculture of teenage girls in Germany began to emulate her style of dress and spent time around the Bahnhof Zoo, which became an unlikely tourist attraction. This development concerned drug experts in the youth field, who feared that, despite the film’s bleakness and numerous drug-related scenes (particularly those portraying the reality of heroin withdrawal), vulnerable teens might regard Felscherinow as a cult heroine and role model.

Staying true to the real-life account of Christiane’s first experience taking heroin at a David Bowie concert in Berlin, the musician offered to make an unexpected cameo in one of the most iconic scenes of the film – singing “Station to Station” on the smoky stage of a performance hall (which was actually recorded in New York), as the character watched him from the audience.

christiane-f

The singer went on to be a big part of the film’s soundtrack, with “Heroes” becoming Christiane F.’s unofficial theme song, echoing through the halls as her and her friends run from the police. Bowie’s presence drew a lot of initially unexpected attention to the release, which would otherwise probably remain as a niche cult creation.

Bowie attended the premiere arm-in-arm with real-life Christiane – who later recounted how she had to take a lot of cocaine to get over her nerves, but also added the mystique disappeared in the light of real life.

Felschernirow contracted hepatitis C from an infected needle in the late 1980s. She suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and rejects interferon treatment because of the side effects.In 2013 Felschernirow stated: “I will die soon, I know that. But I haven’t missed out on anything in my life. I am fine with it. So this isn’t what I’d recommend: this isn’t the best life to live, but it’s my life”

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What addiction? The weird world of medical advise.

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Substances we now know to be highly addictive and even lethal weren’t always seen that way. In the late 19th and early 20th century heroin was seen as a cough medicine and coca cola’s secret ingredient was cocaine.(Have a coke and a smile)

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Cigarettes were  recommended for pregnant women. Even arsenic was used in confectionery and advertised as something that would keep you young.

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Below are just some of the examples of medical advise and advertisements used in the past.

What could go wrong?

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Why stop with beer? Why not use whiskey or rum to get your child to sleep.bf0a532a4949f6b196735524c8560968

Arsenious Acid granules. Nothing like a little Aresenic to cure what ails you. Notice the inconsistency of the dosage. Each granule could contain anywhere from 1 to 50 grain and you were to take 1-2 granules, therefore you may have from 1 to 100 grain in any one dose. Thankfully they have now labelled it as poison just in case.

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Have a smoke for white teeth

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Heroin and Cannabis were marketed  as  potent cough suppressants.

cough syrup

heroin-cough-syrup

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

$2.00