Military Review

Athena Athens


"War is a man's thing." However, in the twentieth century, the participation of women in the war, not only as medical personnel, but also with weapons in hand, becomes reality. This phenomenon became especially widespread during the Second World War.

After the revolution, the Soviet state’s policy on women's issues aimed at involving women in social production contributed to the rapid development of emancipation with all its consequences. As a result, the participation of women in the most difficult physical work, their involvement in traditionally “male” professions, in military-applied sports was presented to public opinion as the greatest achievement of socialism, the manifestation of genuine “gender equality” and the liberation of women from “domestic slavery”. The ideas of emancipation were most popular among young people, and mass Komsomol calls, recruits and mobilization under the slogans "Girls - on a tractor!", "Girls - in Aviation! "," Girls - to the Komsomol construction site! "Etc. were a kind of psychological preparation for the mass participation of Soviet women in the upcoming war, which entered history our country as the Great Patriotic. With its beginning, hundreds of thousands of women rushed into the army, not wanting to lag behind men, feeling that they were able to withstand all the military service, and most importantly - claiming the rights to defend the Fatherland equal to them.

The deep patriotism of the generation raised on the heroic symbols of the recent revolutionary past, but having mostly book-romantic ideas about the war, distinguished those 17-18-year-old girls who were besieged by military registration and enlistment offices demanding to be sent to the front immediately. This is what the pilot of the 27 Guards Taman Women's Aviation Regiment of night bombers Galina Dokutovich wrote in her 1943 diary in May 46: “I remember 10 in October 1941 Moscow. On this day, the VLKSM Central Committee was particularly noisy and crowded. And, most importantly, here there were almost girls alone. They came from all parts of the capital - from institutions, from institutions, from factories. The girls were different - perky, noisy, and calm, restrained, short-haired and with long thick braids, mechanics, parachutists, pilots and just Komsomol groups who never knew aviation. they took turns going into the room where a man was sitting at the table in a protective gymnastics room. "Were you determined to go to the front?" "Yes!" "Doesn't bother you that it will be difficult?" "No!" 1

They were ready for a feat, but were not ready for the army, and what they had to face in the war was a surprise to them. It is always difficult for a civilian to reorganize "on a war footing", for a woman - especially. Army discipline, a soldier's uniform on many sizes larger, male environment, heavy physical exertion - all this was a difficult test. But this was exactly the "everyday materiality of the war, which they, when they asked to go to the front, did not suspect" 2. Then there was the front itself - with death and blood, with every minute danger and "eternally pursuing, but hidden fear" 3. Then, after years, those who survived confess: "When you look at the war with our, woman's eyes, it is more terrible than the terrible" 4. Then they themselves will be surprised that they could endure all this. And the post-war psychological rehabilitation in women will be more difficult than in men: such emotional loads are too great for the female psyche. “A man, he could endure,” recalls the former sniper TM Stepanova. “He’s still a man. But how a woman could, I don’t know myself. Now, as soon as I remember, I am covered with horror, and then everything she could: and sleep next to the dead, and she herself shot, and saw blood, I really remember that the smell of blood on the snow was somehow especially strong ... So I say, and I feel bad ... And then nothing, then everything could "5. After returning from the front, in the circle of their contemporaries, they felt much older because they looked at life with very different eyes — with eyes that saw death. "My soul was tired" 6, - medical instructor O.Ya.Omelchenko will say about this state.

The phenomenon of women's participation in the war is already complex due to the peculiarities of female psychology, and therefore, its perception of front-line reality. “The female memory covers the mainland of human feelings in a war that usually eludes male attention,” emphasizes the author of the book “The war has a non-female face ...” Svetlana Aleksiyevich. “If a man was captured by the war as an act, then the woman felt and endured otherwise, because of her feminine psychology: bombing, death, suffering — not the whole war for her.The woman felt more strongly, again because of her psychological and physiological characteristics, the overload of the war - physical and moral, she harder endured the "male" um war "7. In essence, what a woman had to see, experience and do in a war was a monstrous contradiction to her feminine nature.

The other side of the phenomenon is the ambiguous attitude of the military male majority, and of public opinion in general, to the presence of a woman in a combat situation, in the army in general. The very nature of the woman is the function of motherhood, the continuation of the human race. Woman gives life. However, the phrase "female soldier", a woman who carries death, seems unnatural.

During the period of the Great Patriotic War, 800 served thousands of women in the army, and even more asked to go to the front. Not all of them were on the front line: there were also auxiliary services on which men were required to replace men who had gone to the front, and services that were “purely female”, such as, for example, in bath-and-laundry squads. Our consciousness calmly perceives a woman telephonist, a radio operator, a signaller, a doctor or nurse, a cook or baker, a driver and a traffic controller - that is, those professions that are not associated with the need to kill. But the woman pilot, sniper, gunner, submachine gunner, anti-aircraft gunner, tanker and trooper, sailor and paratrooper - this is something else. The cruel necessity pushed her to this step, the desire to defend the Fatherland itself from the merciless enemy that hit her land, her home, her children. Sacred right! But still, many men had a sense of guilt for fighting girls, and with it a mixed sense of admiration and alienation. "When I heard that our nurses, once surrounded, shot back to protect the wounded soldiers, because the wounded were helpless, like children, I understood that,” recalls war veteran M. Kochetkov, “but when two women crawl around to kill someone with a "sniper" in the neutral zone - this is still a "hunt" ... Although I myself was a sniper. And I myself shot ... But I’m a man ... I could go reconnaissance with that, and in wives would not take "8.

But not only this “discrepancy” of the female nature and the ideas about it to the cruel but inevitable that service from the army, on the front, demanded of them, caused a contradictory attitude towards women in the war. Purely male environment, in which they had to be for a long time, created many problems. On the one hand, for the soldiers, long separated from the family, in that their existence, where, according to David Samoilov, "the urgent need was the categories of house and neglect of death - the only glimpse of warmth and tenderness was a woman", and therefore "was the greatest need spiritual contemplation of a woman, introducing her to the world, "because the young soldiers wrote so zealously to strangers" strangers ", so they expected a return letter, so carefully carried pictures in that pocket of a tunic through which the bullet pierces the heart" 9. Front-line soldiers themselves recall this need of "spiritual contemplation of the woman" at the front. “Woman in war ... This is something that has no human words yet,” says former medical orderly OV Korzh. “If men saw a woman on the front line, their faces became different, even the sound of a woman’s voice transformed them "10. According to many, the presence of a woman in the war, especially in the face of danger, ennobled a man who was there and made him a "much more courageous" 11.

But there was another side to the problem, which became the topic of gossip and anecdotes, which gave rise to the mockingly contemptuous term "field-field wife." “Let the front-line soldiers forgive me,” says N.S. Posylayev, a war veteran, “but I’ll talk about what I saw myself. As a rule, women who went to the front would soon become officers' mistresses. But how could it be otherwise? , there will be no end to harassment. It’s a different matter if with someone ... "12. This view of the problem can be considered quite typical. But what is characteristic is: they especially slandered about this in the rear — those who themselves preferred to sit away from the front line behind all the same girls who had gone to the front as volunteers. But front-line morality condemned the unfaithful wife who stayed at home and changed her front-line husband with a “rear rat” rather than a fleeting girlfriend who feels sorry for the soldier who is going to die. Genuine, lofty feelings were born at the front, the most sincere love, especially tragic because it had no future, too often death separated the lovers. But that is how strong life is, that even under bullets made people love and dream of happiness.

In conclusion, let us quote the words of Konstantin Simonov: “We, speaking of men in war, got used to it all the same, taking into consideration all the circumstances, the main thing to consider, however, is how this man fights. For women in war, for some reason, sometimes they start reasoning on the other. I don't think it was right "13. Former soldiers remember with gratitude their girlfriends, sisters, who dragged their wounded from the battlefield, nursed in the medical battalions and hospitals, fought with them side by side in the same ranks. The woman-friend, comrade-in-arms, and comrade-in-arms, who shared all the war burdens on a par with men, was perceived by them with genuine respect. For merits in the fight against the German fascist invaders during the Great Patriotic War, over 150 thousand women were awarded with military orders and medals.
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