'Unstintingly Master Warfare': Women in the Red Army

Title'Unstintingly Master Warfare': Women in the Red Army
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsScheide, Carmen
EditorIlic, Melanie
Book TitleThe Palgrave Handbook of Women and Gender in Twentieth-Century Russia and the Soviet Union
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityBasingstoke, UK

During the Second World War around one million women served in the Soviet military, but not only in typical female roles such as air defence, telecommunications and medical help. They also served as snipers, fighter pilots, in marine units and as partisans. Initially, there were no official plans for women to serve in the Red Army, and it was only following the heavy losses at the beginning of the war that women were mobilised. The foundation for female military volunteers is evident in Stalinist culture of the 1930s, but perceptions of women during the war differed, depending on their duties, their individual motivation and their position. This chapter describes the mobilisation of women, their wartime experiences as aviators, gender experiences and ways of remembering female combatants after the war as part of the Soviet war cult.

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