Zwischen Emanzipation und Trauma: Soldatinnen im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Deutschland, Sowjetunion, USA): Ein Vergleich

TitleZwischen Emanzipation und Trauma: Soldatinnen im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Deutschland, Sowjetunion, USA): Ein Vergleich
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMaubach, Franka, and Silke Satjukow
JournalHistorische Zeitschrift
Date Published12/2007

In recent gender research, female combatant status is regarded as a milestone on the road to equality. What is seldom considered is what the admission to the weapon and its use mean in reality. Confrontations with warlike violence, with death and killing, are (for men and women) often less liberating than traumatizing. The example of the Second World War, in which women were recruited en masse for military service for the first time, provides a particularly good test of this thesis. In order to measure women's different distances from armed combat and to trace different approaches to the mission, the essay takes a comparative look at German female Wehrmacht helpers, Soviet Red Army women, and U.S. WACs. While many Red Army women fought at the front with weapons in hand, WACs largely remained beyond the battlefront. The service of women helpers in the German Wehrmacht alternated between the two. Although the majority of female soldiers were demobilized in 1945, the new female wartime experiences produced far-reaching short- and long-term consequences. It turns out that the closer women came to armed combat, the less able they were to understand and remember their often traumatic experiences as emancipation ex post. By examining the preconditions of the missions, the missions themselves, and their aftermath, we illuminate the space between emancipation and trauma in which female military service must be located.

Translated TitleBetween Emancipation and Trauma: Female Combatants in World War II (Germany, Soviet Union, USA): A Comparison
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