The Impact of World War II on Women, Family Life, and Mores in Moscow, 1941-1945

TitleThe Impact of World War II on Women, Family Life, and Mores in Moscow, 1941-1945
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsSmith, Gregory Malloy
Academic DepartmentHistory
Number of Pages361
Date Published1989/12
UniversityStanford University

This dissertation examines the impact of World War II on women's lives and self-perceptions, family life, and social mores in Moscow. While Moscow was in some ways atypical of the national Soviet experience as a whole, the city certainly experienced many of the same phenomena as did other large cities near to the front but never occupied by the Germans. Women's lives were altered profoundly during the war, in terms of position in the economy, roles as wives and mothers, and in terms of coping with the vicissitudes of wartime existence. The image of women changed dramatically as well, reflecting differing desires on the part of the regime and changing circumstances. This image became quite independent and assertive early in the war, while largely changing back to a more traditional tone emphasizing motherhood and family life by 1944-1945. Social and sexual mores changed as well, and many Moscow residents had different attitudes toward sexuality and human relationships at the end of the war than they had held in 1941. The experience of the war years was an uneven one as conditions rapidly changed. Some social phenomena caused by the war were reversed by 1945, while others were exacerbated by conditions in the later war period. This work attempts to trace some of these social changes and examine how the war re-shaped life in the Soviet capital.

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