From a western perspective, female roles during wartime are kept nearly exclusively to the home front. Women are placed in temporary industry jobs in order to advance the war effort, which is where iconic personas such as Rosie the Riveter emerge. However, this concept of females roles vary on the eastern front. During World War II the Soviet Union would have 300,000 women self enlist and by 1941 another roughly 400,000 would be drafted to serve on the front lines.
The Pavlichenko family moved to Kiev, like other Soviets every member of the family engaged in work, Lyudmila Pavlichenko a 16 year old girl began work as a grinder in a local factory and started university work, where she also took an interest in an amateur shooting club. This interest would turn into her career when at the age of 24 she self enlisted as one of 2,000 female snipers for the eastern front. Credited with over 300 kills during her career, she quickly became renowned as the most successful sniper in military history (regardless of gender). Pavlichenko was and is a Soviet hero, immortalized in Soviet stamps (see below)
She was the first Soviet soldier to visit the White house, meeting the Roosevelts. Where Pavlichenko famously stated “I did not kill a man, I killed 309 fascists.” She then began a tour across America and Europe fighting for gender equality. As western media outlets criticized her lack of makeup and lack of style, Pavlichenko argued that women were necessary to win the fight against fascism. I believe this shows one way in which the Soviet Union was capable of winning the war on the Eastern Front. The war effort was total and all encompassing. Women actively engaged in the war effort like never before, and like never seen in the west, their influence would alter the direction of the war as well as the way society viewed women as a whole.
Pavlichenko is seen in various films of world war II including the “Battle of Sevastapool”
One of Lyudmila’s famous quotes.
Her role in the war effort is also told asa “princess story” here, it is a visual storytelling of her life however these retellings may not be the most historically accurate.
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper. Smithsonian.com. www.smithsonianmag.com/history/eleanor-roosevelt-and-the-soviet-sniper-23585278/
Lyudmila. Warheroes. www.warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=261.
The Deadliest Female Sniper in History. War History Online. www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/deadliest-female-sniper-history.html