Top 5 Civilians Who Battled Armies

Freedom fighters with a grudge exist outside of Hollywood
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2011 2:13 PM CDT
Zinaida Portnova, a 15-year-old freedom fighter who gunned down her Nazi interrogator and two guards during the siege of Leningrad.   (YouTube)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Throughout history, vast armies have met their enemies on the battlefield and even conquered civilizations—unless, that is, some totally untrained person got really mad at them. Yes, this has actually happened outside of the movies. Cracked lists five of them:

  • Rejected by the Greek army in the 1930s for being a Communist, Antonis Vratsanos started a squad of saboteurs who became "the go-to mad bombers against the Axis powers" in occupied Greece. Their tally: 32 trains, 47 railroad depots, 36 bridges, more than 3,000 Axis soldiers.

  • Zinaida Portnova was only fifteen when she ditched summer camp and joined the Russian underground, taking aim at Nazis laying siege to Leningrad. Eventually caught and interrogated, she grabbed a gun off the table and blew away three Nazis. She was later executed for the offense.
  • Shalom Yoran and his brother fled Nazi-occupied Poland and later tried to join resistance groups; one openly said they didn't accept Jews. So the pair started their own, which swelled to 200 members and climaxed at Stalingrad, "where Yoran's band of misfits would join the Soviets in giving hell to retreating German troops."
  • When Napoleon dispatched troops to Spain in 1808, he didn't count on a barmaid named Juana Galan. In her village of Valdepenas, she organized a squad of women who dumped boiling water and oil on French troops, and beat back heavily armed French cavalry with only clubs. She's still revered as a national hero in Spain.
To read about the fifth freedom fighter—a Dutch farmer with a heck of a grudge—click here.

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |