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“I Colluded with the Russians!”

Ten years ago, I became fascinated by the random lore surrounding Lilia Litvyak, a soft-spoken Moscow teenager, who somehow became the world’s first female fighter-pilot and Adolph Hitler’s worst public relations nightmare, at the age of 19.

Lt. Lilia Litvyak, 1921-1943

Despite the fact that Lilia completed 268 missions, recorded 15 solo kills, assisted on 22 others, was shot down on multiple occasions, and perished at the age of 21, her story was lost in time for over 70 years to all but a handful of Russians.

On the personal side I also discovered, she loved friends, poetry, wildflowers, lilies, and her squadron mate, the dashing and handsome Captain Alexi Solomatin.

To complete my book the way I thought it should be done, this American, with no Russian ancestry, embarked on multiple trips to Russia and Ukraine despite language barriers, unfamiliar cultural traditions, and the dire warnings of my family and friends.

Some three years later, with the “unconditional collusion” of hundreds of caring, warm, generous Russians and Ukrainians, my one-of-a-kind book, Call Sign, White Lily, was born. A few of the many follow.

My collaborators, Valentina Vaschenko, Russian museum curator (c), Yelena Sivolap, Ukrainian teacher (r) at the tiny Lilia Litvyak Museum, Krasny Luch

Lilia’s best childhood friend, Lyudmila Agafejeva in Moscow, recalls Lilia’s love of ice skating

The children of Dmitrovka (where Lilia died) who have kept Lilia ’s deeds alive these past last seven decades

To my surprise, the book has achieved best-selling status as a work of historical fiction on Amazon, thousands of people have emailed me kind words, and some readers have even posted reviews. Recently, the new enlarged 5th edition went on sale at Amazon and online retailers all over the world.

But that is only part of the story about the story.

For three years, I was hounded by the FBI who wondered “how” I did what I did. While—believe it or not—at the same time, the Russian Government asked me “why” would an American bother to do such a thing?

In the end, the FBI decided I wasn’t a double agent, and simply vanished.

The Russian government volunteered to make a video about “our common journey.” I agree to film them in Washington DC, having no idea what would be said. I’m actually pretty proud of the end product, a 2-minute video I titled “A Matter of Trust.” By the way, the Russians never asked to edit or change a thing, and never gave me a dime. I would be honored if you would spend a few more 2 minutes watching my video link.

Russian Worldwide Cultural Director, Yury Zaitsev, and I share a moment at the Russian Cultural Center in Washington D.C.

The morale of my story? Sometimes, collusion can be a good thing!

DATE: Dec.02.2021 | CATEGORY: History/WorldWarII