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Soviet Women’s Acceptance of Infantilization as a Means of Compromise, Resistance, and Denial on the Frontlines of World War II and Beyond

By Julia-Maria Xavier

Content Warning: Sexual Assault


World War II was marked by the violent acquisition of land, shaping, and re-shaping of territories and populations both in its immediacy and  aftermath. For citizens of the Soviet Union, like most other nations, defending their territory was an issue of patriotism, in which all citizens were indebted to sacrifice themselves. Unlike most other nations, women fought alongside men in combatant positions. Despite the equality proclaimed by the state, women experienced sexism in a multitude of forms, including sexual assault, necessitating the creation of a unique wartime identity as a means of defending themselves. Out of this was born female soldiers’ identification with girlhood, starkly contrasted against the image of the oversexualized frontline female soldier, who traded sex for special privileges. The girlhood identity sought to de-sex female soldiers, placing their fighting capabilities at the centre of their identity. This served the purpose of casting themselves as asexual, demanding their chastity be respected by men, and, as such, upon their return, they sought to bring respect to female soldiers. Consequentially, the abuse perpetrated by men became erased and the women whom it was committed against faced a double victimization, in which the women they served with casted them out. This paper argues that the identity created by female soldiers was one of compromise, resistance, and denial. Women compromised the entirety of their selves in accepting the girlhood identity, minimizing themselves to the status of children for a modicum of respect. They resisted through their refusal in the post-war era to allow their service to be forgotten.  The girlhood identity was premised on denial, most significantly the denial that created a degree of separation from the women who faced sexual assault and those who did not.

The Soviet Union’s entrance into World War II in June 1941 was precipitated by the launching of the Nazi’s Operation Barbarossa, a betrayal of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which had ensured non-aggression. Massive mobilization efforts saw millions of Soviet soldiers join the war, both men and women. The eagerness of Soviet women to fight on the frontlines of World War II, and the willingness of military leadership to send them, at first seems indicative of a restructuring of gender norms, aided by an increasing sense of egalitarianism. Reality was drastically opposed to this idealized depiction of gender equality brought by the desperation of war. Women who served on the front continued to face challenges that were premised on the perceived weakness of their gender, from fellow soldiers disparaging their fighting abilities to constant sexual harassment. In response to these challenges, female soldiers began to embrace an image of themselves that was closely associated with girlhood. For women serving on the frontlines who adopted an image of sexlessness, it served as a means of protection, where they could behave in ways unexpected of women, such as killing, while retaining their femininity. It also allowed for a sense of safety from men, who referred to them as their daughters and sisters, creating a level of untouchability.

Red Army soldiers during World War II, 1943. Photo: RIA Novosti Archive/Wikimedia Commons. No changes were made. View license here

After the war, this image of sexlessness also served as a means of resistance to the promiscuous image of female soldiers as they attempted to make sense of their transformation from “brave heroines [into] despicable whores.”1 The projection of sexlessness also had negative consequences, making invisible the abuse of men, while blaming women for any display of sexuality, coerced or no. While the adoption of the girlhood image served  both as a compromise and a means of resistance for women on the frontlines, it was an exclusionary identity that sought its value from the demonization of other women who chose, or were coerced, to express their sexuality differently, while obfuscating both the role of the state and individual men in perpetrating acts of gender inequality and violence. Women became defined by a dueling dichotomy of total sexlessness and an oversaturation of sex, always by their sexuality.

In their acceptance of the girlhood identity, women fighting on the frontlines achieved a compromise that allowed them to blur the lines of appropriate gender expression, combining aspects of traditional femininity, such as makeup and hairstyling, with their abilities as pilots and snipers. To quote one soldier, her “overtly feminine appearance did not interfere with her growing score of kills.”2 In joining the masculinized world of warfare, women became torn between two seemingly opposed gender identities. One female soldier recounted her happiness in joining “not as a woman telephone operator, not even as a woman medic, but as an actual soldier (…).”3 To be a soldier, unlike the other feminized jobs listed, is to escape the confines of what is appropriate for her gender, creating a degree of separation from other women, but not necessarily placing her on an equal footing with the men she serves with.

The identity that female combatants aligned with is filled with contradictions. They strove to maintain their femininity, preserving bottles of Nivea cream, decorating their dugouts with flowers, perming their hair, and despairing over the male uniforms they were forced to wear, a clear rejection of their masculinization.4 At the same time, they disparaged any work  codified as being feminine, such as office work, a clear rejection of their feminization. Anxieties over whether they presented themselves as too masculine or too feminine were a constant feature in their memoirs. Natal’ya Meklin, a flight commander, wrote that her friend Tanya was “always a little ashamed of looking too feminine and not at all like a pilot.”5 Female combatants worked tirelessly in their pursuit to balance what was perceived as two irreconcilable identities: feminine and masculine.

As a means of bridging the gap between traditional femininity and masculinity, women began to accept and refer to themselves with both the infantilizing and familial names men had been using, such as little girl, daughter, and sister.6 In doing so, they offered a path of resistance to the sexist assertion that to be feminine was to be weak, while also creating a barrier against their sexualization. This barrier proved significant when considering the makeup of the frontlines. Often, women would  cohabit alone or with a small group of women within a much larger regiment made up of men. In using these terms to refer to themselves, women attempted to create an “incest taboo,”  highly stigmatized transgression.7 Behaviours which would have been deemed inappropriate went through an attempted de-radicalization process through this verbiage, as women claimed that “nothing crude at all” occurred.8 When reading male soldiers’ recollections of the women they served with, this incest taboo is often invoked when asked about sexual encounters, one man remarking with disgust, “You don’t want to marry your own sister, do you?”9

While this familial language was an attempt to decentre sexuality as the most significant part of women’s identities, it stripped them of their individuality.  Women’s identities became subsumed by their relationships to these paternalistic figures. Women, when being referred to as girl, sister, and daughter, were always slightly lesser in contrast to men, who were allowed to be viewed as full-grown individuals. While men also received familial nicknames, like daddy, they clearly had a different connotation, one that asserted their authority, power, and status.10 Female combatants derived  respect not on their own merit, but from the connections men forged with them in  receiving  their diminutive names. This compromise was useful insofar that it provided women, at least mentally, a sense of protection against discrimination and sexual assault, but it came at the cost of being respected as individuals, rather than the image they projected.

“Vsevobuch soldiers marching along Moscow streets”, 1941. Photo: RIA Novosti Archive/Wikimedia Commons. No changes were made. View license here.

Despite the incest taboo that was frequently remarked upon by men and women, sexual harassment towards their “daughters” and “sisters” happened regularly. In one instance, a commander discussed how much a combatant named Olga looked like his daughter before groping her.11 In the memoirs of combatants, the incest taboo often worked to conceal the real gender dynamics at play. Women regularly had to make the decision to either resist their fathers’ and brothers’ advances or succumb to them, creating a “fight on two fronts,” in which it was necessary to protect themselves against the men they were serving with.12 The harassment endured by women was so severe that one male combatant shared that “as a rule, women on the front soon became officer’s lovers; how could it be otherwise: if a woman was alone the harassment would be endless.”13 Providing further evidence to the view of women primarily as sex objects were the parades conducted of new recruits, where the most attractive would be chosen to work in the offices in close proximity to the men in power.14 While the prior quote implies the existence of at least a minuscule degree of  women’s autonomy in choosing whom they  slept with, it was often the case that even this was absent.

The coercive actions used by men in the pursuit of sex were recounted by numerous women, but often involved demotions and punishments, which, for women who had already sacrificed and overcome so many  obstacles, was torturous. In one instance, a woman named Zhukova was threatened with a military tribunal if she did not disrobe in front of a captain.15 In another, a combatant was raped by a battalion commander and later imprisoned.16 Another combatant remembered being left behind and, after refusing the advances of the man sent to get her, being told that the commander had advised him to find another woman to proposition.17 The behaviour exhibited by these men in using their power to erode  women’s agency in their regiments was repeated numerous times with little to no consequences.

 Zhukova recalled that after her attack she relied heavily on the protection of three men, who ensured her safety.18 While this is remembered fondly, it reveals the precariousness of women’s safety  when in the company of their male counterparts. Where some women claimed that the behaviour of those in power was not replicated by their fellow soldiers, others argued that the idea of having access to women as a reward for their service was widely held across male ranks.19 This sense of entitlement to women’s bodies as spoils of war would go on to fuel mass sexual assaults of civilian women as the Red Army moved westward into enemy territory.20 Owing to the shame associated with sexual assault, the estimated number of women violated ranges widely, from tens of thousands to a staggering two million in Germany alone.21 As an example of the behaviour displayed by rank-and-file men, women remembered an incident in which a grenade was thrown into their bathing trench, forcing them to run out naked.22 While the power dynamics that shaped the relationships of female soldiers with higher ranking officers were very different from those that shaped their relationships with their fellow soldiers, the fact that women were often vastly outnumbered by men created a power imbalance that they were forced to navigate. The maintenance of the sexual taboo allowed for the actions of men, both high ranking and not, to remain shrouded in silence and the violence they committed to remain concealed.

Sexuality went largely unspoken by women during the Stalinist era. That it occupies such a small space within the memoirs of female combatants is not surprising. When looking at state propaganda, women’s sexuality increasingly became tied to a sense of violation that men were tasked with avenging, whether it was the explicit imagery of women being raped or the more implicit of Russian land being invaded.23 Indicative of what the state wanted women focusing their attention on, speeches addressing the war effort used sexualized language when discussing “what the Soviet woman is capable of when she is inspired by feelings of selfless loyalty to the party and government, and by burning love for the fatherland.”24 Women’s burning love became exclusive to the state’s war efforts, seen in the advent of the Kosmodemyanskaya cult, in which the ultimate show of their devotion to the state was their own martyrdom.25 To satiate their burning love, women were expected to take lives, whether it be on the battlefield, through encouraging their children to enlist, or sacrificing their own lives to the pyre of the fatherland.

Colorized photograph of Soviet army anti-aircraft gunner Tatiana Shmorgunova with her comrades of the 1st Belarussian front waiting for orders to cross the river Oder following the Soviet’s successful victory at the Vistula-Oder offensive, 1945. Photo: Cassowary Colorization/Wikimedia Commons. No changes were made. View license here.

Not all sexual encounters between those at the front were achieved through coercion. As one veteran stressed, “legitimate, illegitimate, it [earthly love] existed at the front and it degraded people and elevated people and saved lives.”26 Women’s memoirs include their sexual fantasies, but they stress that they were never acted upon.27 Sex on the frontlines became a subject, especially after the war, that female veterans were desperate to deny they had any role in, writing that “all the boys deeply respect our regiment. Not only as fighting comrades but especially as girls who do not trade their honour and consciousness or sell their feelings and devotions.”28 Within this quote is the creation of two distinct identities on the frontline: those who engaged in sex and those who did not. However, relationships on the frontlines were often much more complicated, as they were confronted with the reality of their life’s fragility. Relationships came in a variety of different forms, from true love matches – men and women who, despite being married, sought physical intimacy with each other – and women who, when faced with the dying wishes of men, engaged in a variety of sexual acts.29 Perhaps influencing the silence that emerged after the war in regard to sexual relationships was the frequency with which men, who had professed their love to female combatants, had left them for non-combatants, stating “ after the war … after all the dirt, and lice, and death … we wanted something beautiful. Bright, beautiful women….”30

            In the construction of a sexless identity, it was necessary to have women with whom they could juxtapose their own virtue. Women became divided on sexual lines, in which those who had sex faced the scorn of the women who had not, or had claimed not to. For the latter, it served as a means of denial, as if to suggest that harassment could only happen to a certain type of woman from which they were excluded due to their girlish identity. Female combatants emphasized repeatedly that they were viewed as being different, respected by the men they served with.  In being so, they were not subjected to the same treatment other women received. In creating a level of separation from themselves as combatants and other women,  they asserted that they had overcome the limitations of their gender, explaining why, when one was demoted and forced to do femininized work, it was viewed as the worst insult possible.31 It becomes abundantly clear that this separation did little to stem the sexual assaults they faced on the front or the rumours that were  spread at home. While they might have been able to differentiate themselves from the women who had engaged in sex, for those on the home front these distinctions were non-existent.

The desire to create a separation between sexual and non-sexual identities can be understood as an attempt to protect the latter from the increasingly popular view of women serving on the front, encapsulated by this quote: “I’m getting complaints from the wives of the instructors who are teaching your women pilots. Just what do you think they’re doing with the instructors in the evening? They’re fooling around, destroying families.”32 Engaging in a sexual relationship with a man was seen as giving justification to disallowing women to serve on the front, as well as tarnishing their own reputations. For this reason, women referred to as Mobile Field Wives became the most despised group of female combatants, viewed as having exchanged sex for privileges. In doing so, they were viewed as having taken the easier option, instead of proving themselves via their hard work. Moreover, their sexuality was viewed as a liability for all other women serving, tarnishing their efforts to represent themselves  as sexlessness. Only the women who  engaged in sex faced ire from the combatants, as the expression of male sexuality was understood to be natural. When a skilled surgeon became involved with a commander, the women forgave him “because he was a good commander …, but not the woman.”33 While men could redeem themselves after choosing to have sex, as the commander had done, this redemption was non-existent for women.

Even the implication that one had engaged in sex was enough to be ostracized from the group. Such was the case of one woman named Anya, who after having fought off her attacker, was subjected to cruel rumours, the others having said, “Anya’s been over there.”34 This is not to suggest that the women were callous with each other regarding dangerous men. In fact, to keep themselves safe, they would often share information with each other about the men to avoid.35 To engage in these relationships, even when coerced, was still perceived as having made a choice. As a result of this view, a pattern emerged from women who had been the victims of attempted sexual assaults. In the midst of the assault, a woman often attempted suicide as a means of keeping her honour, whether that be through exploding a grenade or telling the officer to shoot her.36 In less drastic, though no less traumatizing incidents, women also recounted being demoted or having their awards stripped from them after refusing sexual advances.37 Female martyrdom was a constant theme in propaganda and had a clear impact on the young women serving, who thought it preferrable to keep their virtue intact than to have survived a sexual assault or, even worse, to have been seen as benefitting from it. While Soviet men faced the stigma of being taken as prisoners of war, women were subjected to a double burden where it was necessary to ensure they were never taken as sexual prisoners of war by their own soldiers. The creation of the sexualized other in contrast to the sexless female soldier operated as a means of denial in that it created reasons for assault that were inapplicable to themselves. Both male and female soldiers victimized women as a result of this denial, while men’s responsibility was all but diminished.

            While the image of sexlessness was an important aspect of female combatant identity during the war, it was after the war that it became imperative to push forward this narrative. While negative stereotypes were already associated with female soldiers during the war, they were amplified afterward, and women returning home were left to manage the repercussions alone. There was the expectation that these soldiers, who had transgressed the lines of appropriate gender expression during the war, would simply return eager to become mothers and wives and begin quickly reproducing as a means of making up for the millions who had died. Skills that were valorized in men were viewed as a detriment in women, a female soldier being told by a male, “Verochka, only don’t lower yourself, don’t become coarse. You’re so delicate now.”38 To remain delicate during war would have been tantamount to a death sentence. Women did not remain delicate as a result of their survival and on their return were punished for the instincts that had kept them alive. Wartime propaganda featuring women anticipated this return to the status quo, as newspapers like Krestianka has depicted female fighters alongside messages that proclaimed, “but they don’t forget about their primary duty to nation and the state, that of motherhood.”39 As state priorities changed, women were expected  to change with them, but their years of fighting had irrevocably changed them.

While propaganda had once exalted women’s war efforts, now when they wore their medals they were greeted on the streets by the angry jeering of crowds, told “we know what you did there! You lured our men with your young c—- ! Army whores… military bitches….”40 The camaraderie built between female and male combatants ceased to exist when they arrived home, women facing the brunt of these insults on their own. Men were eager to begin new lives with women untainted by the realities of life at the front, something that was exceedingly difficult for female combatants. For women who attempted to return to their civilian lives, even the knowledge that they had served was enough to ruin not only their reputations, but those of their families as well. When returning home with her husband after the war, her in-laws asked, “who have you gotten married to? An army girl. Why, you have two younger sisters. Who will marry them now?”41 Whereas men’s service proved a point of pride, women’s was a source of shame. The gendered expectations that had loosened enough to allow women to fight were now firmly re-entrenched. Mikhail Kalinin, the head of state of the Soviet Union, advised them to “not talk about the services you rendered, let others do it for you.”42 To paraphrase, stop talking and go home.

Life was even more fraught for women who had been injured. Whereas wartime injuries provided a degree of heroism to men (to a certain extent) who were already in short supply post-war, for women they served as a permanent reminder of their undesirability. Women who served disclosed that they would have preferred death to the humiliation of returning home disfigured. Klavdia Grigoryevna Krokhina, a first sergeant sniper, wrote, “I asked one thing of God, that if they disfigure you, better let them kill you. … Once I saw a girl soldier there with a burned face… I shuddered …. Afterward I prayed for her, too.”43 While men might have mocked women’s desire to remain beautiful even in death, there was an understanding by women of the societal value of their beauty and the price to be paid once it was tarnished.44 Other women, in seeking to hide that they had been a part of the war so that they could marry, tore up papers that entitled them to health benefits. They suffered the consequences of going without treatment as a result of trying to better fit into a society that demanded their conformity to a rigid ideal of femininity.45

Perhaps the most painful aspect of returning home for women who had fought so desperately to assert their equality on the battlefield was seeing how little things had changed. When Valentina Pavlovna Chudaeva, a commander of an antiaircraft artillery, discussed how differently men and women were perceived, she said, “men  wore them [medals], but not women. Men were victors, heroes, wooers, the war was theirs …. They robbed us of our victory. They quietly exchanged it for women’s happiness. Men didn’t share the victory with us. It was painful… incomprehensible.”46 Men also expressed their regret over how they treated women following the war, explaining, “we wanted to forget the war. And we forgot our girls, too….”47 Women’s pain was multifold, directed at the state for expecting them to be satisfied with “women’s happiness,” which was tantamount to birthing children,  the men they served with for abandoning them,  the general population for failing to see their sacrifices, and  other women whose actions they felt had tainted their legacy.48

            Women’s memoirs and their assertions of familial love on the front, as flawed and incomplete as they might be, served as a means of resistance against the attempts to erase them from history. It cannot be denied that, in many ways, the memoirs sought to sanitize the most unpleasant parts of their experiences, especially regarding gender inequality. The memoirists sought to remove all the salacious details of their service and to instead project an image of equality and camaraderie with their fellow male soldiers. In refusing to acknowledge that sex occurred between female and male combatants, they argued against the perception that women at the front were looking to “find husbands” or were “frontline whore(s).”49 Instead, they wrote about their treatment as daughters and sisters and  how their fortitude was enough to overcome any obstacles they faced. They attempted to decentre their sexual reputations and instead focus on their accomplishments, asserting  their right to be honoured just as men were. It is also true that in doing so, they minimized their own traumas. Sexual assault, despite its prevalence, all but disappeared. Commanders who others remembered as being sexist all throughout their service, suddenly realized at the end that they had been mistaken. In short, just as they  had to do during the war, women expertly dissected the aspects of themselves and their stories that were unsuitable for the moment they found themselves in.

Just as men partook in the myth-making of the Great Patriotic War, women, too, desired the ability to be seen and acknowledged as heroes, and, just like men, they were willing to create their own realities to do so. While women gained greater recognition, the danger of doing so meant that they spoke in half-truths, which  concealed the systemic abuse they experienced. While female combatants fought for the right to wear their medals with pride, they did so by sacrificing women whose exploitation became framed as their own weaknesses. Within their memoirs and recollections, many still painted the Mobile Field Wives as being incompressible  to them, that they could never imagine having sex to gain privileges.57 There is no acknowledgment that for many women, their options were limited to  being raped either with or without whatever privileges they might have been given.

One of the most disturbing episodes of the war that remained unspoken about by female combatants was the mass rape of German women committed by Soviet soldiers. Only decades later did women speak about the same men, whom they had referred to as  respectful, committing horrific acts of sexual violence.50 Ratkina remembered seeing a German girl who, after being raped, had a grenade put between her legs as she lay naked.51 She claimed, “now I feel ashamed, but then I didn’t,” revealing not only the extent to which women had become desensitized to violence on the frontline, but also how deeply they felt a part of their unit, capable of compartmentalizing or even justifying the brutality being enacted.52 That this German girl’s act of maintaining her honour is so similar to the experience of Soviet women who also attempted suicide following sexual assault is never mentioned. Ratkina also discussed how a group of five German women arrived at the battalion, bloodied after having been raped by a group of Soviet soldiers.53 Instead of pointing to the perpetrators, the girls accepted a loaf of bread and left, too tired of violence to want justice.54 Ratkina seems to excuse this violence saying, “of course, all of this is war… of  course….”55 Many Soviet women, in joining the army, cited their wanting to avenge women who had been murdered, seeing it as part of their duty.56 Instead, many were made complicit in the sexual violence perpetrated by the men they served with, themselves survivors of the same abuse.

The memoirs and recollections of female combatants give  invaluable insight as to how they viewed themselves, those they fought with, and the war. In identifying with the labels of girlhood and sexlessness, they divorced themselves from traditional femininity while rejecting their masculinization. They existed in a liminal space that was destined to die as soon as the war ended. Forced back into the domesticity they thought they had escaped, they continued to push forward the same narrative they had when  serving, manifesting in the creation of two distinct female identities:  one that lacked sexuality and  one that was overcome by it. The use of this sexless identity was powerful in resisting their sexualization after the war, but it created a category of women who were cast as deserving of the abuse they were subjected to, while eliminating the role of the state and men in perpetrating violence. Combatants’ memoirs fought for women to be respected, but only so far as those women remained legible in the stories they wanted to tell. The stories of the women who could not fit within their myths are still waiting to be told.


1. Roger D. Markwick, “‘The Motherland Calls’: Soviet Women in the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Women and Gender in Twentieth Century Russia and the Soviet Union, ed. Melanie Illic (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 239.

2. Anna Krylova, Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 275.

3. Krylova, , 8.

4. Lyuba Vinograda, Defending the Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Aces, trans. Arch Tait (London: Maclehose Press, 2015), 112-113; Krylova, Soviet Women in Combat, 269; Reina Pennington, Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat (Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2001), 38-39.

5. Kazimiera Janina Cottam, Women in Air War: The Eastern Front of World War II (New York; Ottawa; Toronto: Legas, 1997), 152.

6. Euridice Charon Cardona and Roger D. Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 185; Cottam, Women in Air War, 152.

7. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 79.

8. Barbara Engel, “The Womanly Face of War: Soviet Women Remember World War II,” in Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Enlisted with or Without Consent, ed. Nicole Dombrowski (London; New York: Routledge, 2005), 106.

9. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 106.

10. Pennington, Wings, Women, and War, 97.

11. Vinogradova, Defending the Motherland, 72.

12. Lyuba Vinogradova, Avenging Angels: Soviet Women Snipers on the Eastern Front, trans. Arch Tait(London: MacLehose Press, 2017), 93.

13. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 79.

14. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels, 93.

15. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 228.

16. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels, 122.

17. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels, 144.

18. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 228.

19. Markwick, “‘The Motherland Calls,’” 226.

20. Conflict-related sexual violence was not limited to the Red Army. Numerous instances of conflict-related sexual violence occurred during World War II, including the sexual enslavement of women and the Rape of Nanking by the Japanese, and mass sexual violence in both Europe and Japan committed by American soldiers. Sexual violence as a tool of war continues to be used in modern conflicts, disproportionately affecting women and children. For further information, see: Elizabeth D. Heineman, Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones,(Philadelphia & Oxford, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Regina Mühlhäser, “Sexuality, Sexual Violence, and the Military in the Age of the World Wars,” in The Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World Since 1600, ed. Karen Hagemann, Stefan Dudink, and Sonya O. Rose (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020); Pyong Gap Min, Korean “Comfort Women”: Military Brothels, Brutality, and the Redress Movement, (New Brunswick, Camden, Newark, & London: Rutgers University Press, 2021); Robert J. Lilly, Taken by Force: Rape and American GIs in Europe During World War II,(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

21. Elizabeth Heineman, “The Hour of the Woman: Memories of Germany’s ‘Crisis Years’ and West German National Identity,” The American Historical Review vol. 101, no.2 (1996): 364.

22. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 107.

23. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,”, 110-111; Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 161.

24. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 27.

25. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 120-122.

26. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 108.

27. Krylova, Soviet Women in Combat, 283.

28. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War,103.

29. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 79.

30. Svetlana Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II,trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Random House, 2018), 90.

31. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 199.

32. Pennington, Wings, Women, and War, 43.

33. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 108.

34. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels, 124.

35. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 107.

36. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels,155; Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War,80.

37. Vinogradova, Avenging Angels,122; Vinogradova, Defending the Motherland, 72.

38. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 75.

39. Pennington, Wings, Women, and War,67.

40. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 228.

41. Pennington, Wings, Women, and War,67.

42. Pennington, Wings, Women, and War,68.

43. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 39.

44. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 151.

45. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 107.

46. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War,, 116.

47. Alexievch, The Unwomanly Face of War, 90.

48. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 90.

49. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War,, 90; Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 112.

50. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 103.

51. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 276.

52. Alexievich, 276.

53. Alexievich, 276-277.

54. Alexievich, 276-277.

55. Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War, 277.

56. Cardona and Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War, 52.

57. Engel, “The Womanly Face of War,” 108.


Alexievich, Svetlana. The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II.Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Random House, 2018.

Cardona, Euridice Charon and   Roger D. Markwick, Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War.London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Cottam, Kazimiera Janina. Women in Air War: The Eastern Front of World War II.New York; Ottawa; Toronto: Legas, 1997.

Engel, Barbara Alpern. “The Womanly Face of War: Soviet Women Remember World War II.” In Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Enlisted with or Without Consent, edited by Nicole Dombrowski. London; New York: Routledge, 2005.

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