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Why women were allowed to fight?

Discussions on all aspects of the USSR, from the Russian Civil War till the end of the Great Patriotic War and the war against Japan.
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Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby kaiserjohann on 13 Feb 2009 22:40

I always wandered why the soviets let their womans to fight and see live action in the front. Was that they really needed them in the front, or because they thought theirselves as more "progressives than the allies or the germans"?

I believe they strongly needed a lot of people to win their "great patriotic war", so they made no distinctions with women. Maybe under no such extremes circunstances, women wouldn't have fought.

What do you think?

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Last edited by kaiserjohann on 14 Feb 2009 00:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why wome were allowed to fight?

Postby RCW Mark on 14 Feb 2009 00:03

The Slavic peoples seem to have quite different attitudes to women fighting. Women fought in WWI for Russia -- both in units with men and in all-female units -- and then afterwards for both the Soviets and Poles in the civil wars following WWI. (The Poles seem to have had quite a few female units.)

Add to this the Communist ideal that women should be treated equally with men that you mention.

I don't think it's a manpower issue. But it may be that they felt volunteer women are going to be better value than drafted men. (I agree with this completely BTW. It has always bothered me that my country will force men to fight, but refuse to let women volunteer to!)

To me the question is: why do so many westerners get so worked up about women fighting?
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Re: Why wome were allowed to fight?

Postby Auser on 14 Feb 2009 00:06

Women who volunteered were allowed to serve. And are still allowed to do so those days.

The most notorious cases were the female sniper battalions.

Many women lost their husbands in the war or "given him away" to the front; some were refugees that fled from the occupied territories and found their way to fighting. There were also many women amongst the partizans. Those were particularly dangerous, as they could be used in sabotage and espionage missions, gathering intelligence etc.

And the most important, there is a tradition of fighting women in Russia. There is "a type" of russian women which is very aggressive and merciless. A tradition from the time of the Budini.

Actually the Amazones were said to had their fatherland in what is now southern russia.
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby Art on 17 Feb 2009 12:23

kaiserjohann wrote:I always wandered why the soviets let their womans to fight and see live action in the front. Was that they really needed them in the front, or because they thought theirselves as more "progressives than the allies or the germans"?

Large scale recruitment of women to auxiliary troops beginning from 1942 was due to manpower shortage. The reasons for women snipers training are not clear to me.
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Re: Why wome were allowed to fight?

Postby Art on 17 Feb 2009 12:57

RCW Mark wrote: Women fought in WWI for Russia -- both in units with men and in all-female units

Some info on this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Battalion
Add to this the Communist ideal that women should be treated equally with men that you mention.

Women's emancipation wasn't a communist or even socilalistic idea. The other thing is that a man of progressive views in pre-revolution Russia was almost obliged to subscribe to this idea, otherwise he would lost the right to call his views progressive. That, of course, had its impact on the policy in post-revolution period:
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby TISO on 17 Feb 2009 16:48

Perhaps becouse:
The Literary Digest (19th June, 1915):

There appears to be no sex-antagonism in Russia. Indeed the line of sex cleavage is of the very faintest. Men and women do not lead separate lives. They work side by side normally, whether in the fields or as students of medicine, politics and the like in universities. And, as every one knows, there are (or were before the war changed everything) as many women Anarchists as men. It is only natural that the iron-hearted and adventurous should desire to share in the great adventure.


Maria Bochkareva to the Women's Death Battalion on the steps of St. Isaac's Cathedral in Petrograd in June 1917:
Come with us in the name of your fallen heroes. Come with us to dry the tears and heal the wounds of Russia. Protect her with yours lives. We women are turning into tigresses to protect our children from a shameful yoke - to protect the freedom of our country.

Bolded by me.

A good site about female soldiers in Great Partriotic War (it is in russian so use Babelfish or similar):
http://www.a-z.ru/women_cd2/

It is really shame that Russian female soldiers during the ww1 are almost unknown in the west. At least two women ( Natalie Tychmini and Olga Krasilnikova)while fighting desguised as men recived the Cross of st. George which was awarded only for extreme bravery in face of the enemy. Or Women's death battalion led by Maria Bochkareva established by Kerenski in 1917 which saw 3 month service on the front ( during which initial strengght of 2000 fel to 250) and was one of the last units to defend winter pallace during october revolution.

Members of the Women's Death Battalion in 1917:
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby Auser on 19 Feb 2009 19:55

[/quote]
Large scale recruitment of women to auxiliary troops beginning from 1942 was due to manpower shortage. The reasons for women snipers training are not clear to me.[/quote]

Because snipers don`t get into close contact with the enemy.
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby Oleg Grigoryev on 19 Feb 2009 21:44

Auser wrote:

Large scale recruitment of women to auxiliary troops beginning from 1942 was due to manpower shortage. The reasons for women snipers training are not clear to me.[/quote]

Because snipers don`t get into close contact with the enemy.[/quote]

well not quite so

http://www.iremember.ru/content/view/31/61/lang,en/
http://www.iremember.ru/content/view/30/61/lang,en/
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby Auser on 19 Feb 2009 22:18

As a general rule they don`t.
Especially if compared to infatry or armor troops.
They were designated to serve as snipers, but each soldier and it`s own fortune and destiny. Whe the decision was made it wasn`t based on assumed possible exceptions and anomalies.
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby JonS on 20 Feb 2009 03:58

Auser wrote:As a general rule they don`t.
Especially if compared to infatry or armor troops.

Well, by definition a sniper has to be within a km of the enemy, probably much less, no? If you want them to avoid close contact with the enemy it's pretty easy - just stick them in signals, logistic, medical, AA, or artillery units. No guarantees there, of course, but with a sniper the guarantee runs exactly the other way.

Turning them into snipers indicates that you *do* want them in close contact with the enemy, either because the burden should be borne equally (a philosophic argument) or because they offer some advantage over men (a pragmatic argument - for example, females tend to make better signallers as higher pitched voices get distorted less).

RCW Mark wrote:(I agree with this completely BTW. It has always bothered me that my country will force men to fight, but refuse to let women volunteer to!)

Is this a current tense argument, or past tense? You do realise that currently there are NO military trades in your country which women cannot enter? That includes infantry, SAS, and Navy Combat Diver.

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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby RCW Mark on 20 Feb 2009 04:04

Obviously mostly past tense Jon. For the moment.
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Re: Why women were allowed to fight?

Postby JonS on 20 Feb 2009 04:06

Mmm, not obviously :) "will" usually indicates present or future tense.
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