The Rouged Army: Soviet Women Soldiers' Counternarratives of the Great Patriotic War

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Throughout the Soviet period, state-controlled media, such as film and literature, infantilized women who fought in World War II (WWII). Women held combat positions on the front, yet Soviet state media and male soldiers diminished women's service. The purpose of this project is to examine how Soviet women veterans utilized memoirs to amend public perception of their service. Contrasting state depictions against women's memoirs reveals that women contradicted their portrayals in film and literature to achieve societal recognition and public remembrance. During the Soviet period, women published memoirs that illustrated themselves as fully devoted to the war effort. Soviet state media sanitized the presentation of WWII, disregarding atrocities committed by the military and censoring war narratives. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, women detailed experiences that state censors previously rejected. Women discussed misogyny and sexual assault, countering the state's notion of a morally righteous war. As the state continuously churned out propaganda that dismissed women's service, their role in the war was under threat of being forgotten. By writing memoirs, women reclaimed their history by sharing their experiences during WWII.


Humanities: 2nd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)


Popular Media, Memoirs, Soviet history, Gender history