Mira Sinelnikova was born in 1924 in the town of Cherikov, Belorussia. Her father was a barber. She was tall and athletic, had practiced parachute jumping, and was a good shooter. Before the war, she enrolled in the department of German at the Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages. After the outbreak of the war, her father Vulf and elder brother Abram were drafted. Both of them were killed in action during the first days of the war. Eager to take revenge, the 17-year-old Mira requested to be drafted for active service. She was assigned to the reconnaissance unit of the 43th Army, where she completed a course for scouts. At the end of October 1941, during the operation for the defense of Moscow, she crossed the frontlines to the German rear.
While there, Mira had the following cover story: her name was Valia Sarkisyan and she escaped from a Soviet prison in Minsk, where she had been imprisoned for engaging in illegal trade. She was supposedly traveling eastward to visit some relatives.
The intelligence information gathered by Sinelnikova's was timely and precise. For example, she informed the 43th Army about the location of the German headquarters in the town of Medyn and, thus, Soviet bombers were able to attack those houses. She also provided information on the movement of enemy units and their composition, on the results of each Soviet bombing raid, etc.
In January 1942, the Germans arrested Sinelnikova. She was submitted to incredible torture but remained silent about other scouts and about her military unit. According to the deposition of a Russian collaborator who was present at her interrogation, she said to her tormentors: "You will not get anything out of me, you damned cowards!" She was executed on the next day after her arrest.
In the late 1960s witness accounts and documents appeared about the arrest of Sinelnikova. Thereafter, documentation was prepared to support her being awarded the distinction of the Hero of the Soviet Union. At that stage, it turned out that Maria Vladimirovna Sinelnikova (i.e., she was registered in her Komsomol card as if her father's name was Russian) when it fact it was the Yiddish name Vulf. The result was that she was denied the honor of being named Hero of the Soviet Union.