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European Women in World War II

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Presentation on theme: "European Women in World War II"— Presentation transcript:

1 European Women in World War II
Samantha K. - QRS

2 What roles did European women play in World War II combat?

3 Britain Many went into civil defense and the Women’s Land Army, but it began to change during World War II Conscription began in 1941 for women 21 years of age, which required them to join the armed forces Text from - Craddick-Adams, Peter. "Women At War: 'She Soldiers Through the Ages'" 1 Mar May 2007 <http://womenshistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=womenshistory&cdn=education&tm=13&gps=74_9_1020_598&f=11&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.bbc.co.uk/history/lj/warslj/women_01.shtml>. Above is a poster of British women enrolled in the military, to promote female participation in World War II. Image from -

4 Britain Although women were recruited into the military, they were not allowed to fill active combat roles Several non-combat units existed Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) Air Transport Auxiliary Special Operations Executive (SOE) Women as agents Women as radio operators in areas of Nazi occupation In 1949 women were officially recognized as part of the British military Craddick-Adams, Peter. "Women At War: 'She Soldiers Through the Ages'" 1 Mar May 2007 <http://womenshistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=womenshistory&cdn=education&tm=13&gps=74_9_1020_598&f=11&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.bbc.co.uk/history/lj/warslj/women_01.shtml>. Posters like the one above right helped to attract over 3,000 women into the Woman’s Royal Naval Service (WRENS.) Image from -

5 British Spies Among the most notorious British spies, are Lillian Rolfe, Denise Bloch, and Violette Szabo Members of British Paratrooper Unit (FANY) Worked as underground spies in France after being arrested by the S.S “All three were very brace and I was deeply moved. Suhren was also impressed by the bearing of these women…” – Johannes Schwarzhuber (March 12, 1946, at the Hamburg trials in which they were executed.) Above right is Lillian Rolfe. Image from - Above left is Violette Szabo. Image from -

6 British Suffrage John Stuart Mill wrote The Subjection of Women which proposed for women’s suffrage Petitioned Parliament in the Reform Bill of 1867 Lydia Becker founded the first women’s suffrage committee, also in 1867 In 1897 all women’s suffrages committees united to form the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Socialites At the start of World War I, women joined the war effort and temporarily halted women’s suffrage efforts In February 1918 women over the age of 30 received the right to vote In 1928 suffrage rights were equalized for men and women Used - Mill, John S. On Liberty and the Subjection of Women. London: Penguin Group,

7 Cecily Margot Lefort April 30, 1900 – May 1, 1945
With husband Alex Lefort, opened their home for underground resistance Joined the British Auxiliary Air Force in 1941 Was sent to Special Operatoins Executive in London to translate French Was arrested by the Gestapo Sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany Was held prisoner from 1943 – 1945 Was gassed May 1, 1945 when she was considered useless to the Nazi’s Heroine of World War II Pictured above is the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, which Cecily Lefort played a significant role in. Image from -

8 Finland Similar roles to the British women Lotta Svard organization
Nursing, air raid signaling, hospitalization, rationing Lotta Svard organization Auxiliary work of armed forces Largest voluntary organization in WW2 Helped Finland hold off Soviet forces Did not typically engage in combat Was the first nation to allow women as candidates Smart, T L. "Women in Aviation." 24 Sept June 2007 <http://warriordoc.com/women_in_aviation.htm>.

9 Suffrage in Finland The first major European country to permit women’s suffrage Granted in 1906 Was also the first country to allow females to run in elections 19 females were elected in 1907 to the Parliament of Finland Above left are the female members of the Finnish party. Above right is the day women were granted suffrage, in Images from -

10 Poland Extensive role in the resistance movement
Worked as couriers delivering messages from the cells of the movement to the printing presses Took part in the actual combat Warsaw Rising (1944) participated in the Home Army Wanda Gertz – commanded DYSK - Women’s Sabotage Unit Over 2,000 female pow’s held under the German army Women over 30 were granted suffrage in 1918 Smart, T L. "Women in Aviation." 24 Sept June 2007 <http://warriordoc.com/women_in_aviation.htm>.

11 Wanda Gertz April 13, 1896 – November 10, 1958
Polish major and solider of the Armia Krajowa Polish defensive war of 1939 Participated in defensive of Warsaw Was a member of the SZP (Polish Victory Service) Organized and commanded the DYSK “Women’s sabatoge unit” Was a prisoner of war in several camps After U.S army liberated Poland she became a member of the Polish I corps in the West Image from

12 Germany Third Reich offered positions to many women
Auxiliary units in the navy, army and air force Auxiliary called Aufseherin Majority of women at Ravensbruck (Concentration camp) Female Soviet POW’s placed in Ravensbruck Began arriving February 27, 1943 Image from "Women Join German Fighting Forces." BBC News. 2 Jan June 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/ >.

13 Suffrage in Germany Was granted in 1918 after World War I Was revoked from 1935 – 1945 Under Nuremburg Laws Female voting restrictions were also applied to all territories that were occupied by the Nazi’s during World War II Full voting rights restored at the end of the war Carrie Chapman Catt spoke of the women’s conference for suffrage that was held in Berlin. “Twenty-five years ago a small group of women met in Berlin, Germany, for the purpose of organizing an international women’s suffrage alliance. At that time there was a law in Germany which forbade any woman to go to a political meeting. Yet the organization was effective. “ "Women's Suffrage." Grolier Grolier Online. 1 June 2007 <http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=5193>.

14 Female Nazi’s Therese Elisabeth Alexandra Förster-Nietzsche
Sister of Friedrich Nietzsche Distorted his work “The Will to Power” after his death In 1933 Elisabeth became a prominent supporter of the Nazi party Gave large funds to the party Irma Grese supervised Ravensbruck, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen Was nicknamed the “bitch of Belsen” Notorious war criminal Executed in 1945 Hundreds of female Nazi’s were executed for war crimes at the end of the war Saidel, Rochelle G. The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp

15 Thea Rasche 1899 - 1971 First female pilot in Germany
As a member of the 99’s Was the only woman in the air show in Berlin Was awarded “wings around the world for peace” Above left is Thea in the 1930’s before a flight. Above right is Thea alongside Lisel Bach and Elly Bienhorn in 1932. Pictures and text from -

16 Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg
January 9, 1903 – April 8, 1945 German aviator Her professional aviation abilities saved her and her family from being sent to concentration camps Awarded the Iron Class 2nd Class in 1943 On April 8, 1945 she was shot down and later died from injuries Image from forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=

17 Denmark Was invaded by Germany on April 9, 1940
Called Operation Weserbung Germany took over the economy Women involved in the armed forces since 1934 Ground Observer Corps Danish Women Army and Naval Corps as of 1946 Suffrage for women in 1908 in local elections 1915 women received full voting privileges "Women's Suffrage." Grolier Grolier Online. 1 June 2007 <http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=5193>.

18 Norway Women have been serving in the military since 1938
Women were allowed to serve in any branch desired Including direct involvement in combat Many women were involved in the resistance movement against Germany Directly after World War II (1947) limitations were placed on women in the military As a result of injuries sustained by females in the war Goldman, Nancy. "The Changing Role Of Women In The Armed Forces." American Journal Of Sociology (4):

19 Soviet Union Women as aviators First nation to allow female pilots
Marina Raskova, known as the Russian Amelia Earhart First woman pilot in the Soviet Air Force First nation to allow female pilots The three divisions that women could participate in were 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment Women as snipers Nina Alexayevna Lobkovskaya and Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed over 300 German soldiers Women as machine gunners, medics, political officers, tank drivers and communication personnel Goldman, Nancy. "The Changing Role Of Women In The Armed Forces." American Journal Of Sociology (4):

20 Suffrage in the Soviet Union
Since women played a large roll in the war, they felt they particularly deserved voting rights Many organizations petitioned the Soviet government for female suffrage Granted by the 1918 Soviet Constitution However there were many restrictions No direct voting by females Direct voting was not granted until the 1936 Soviet constitution Above is the International Council for Women’s Suffrage. Image from -

21 Soviet and Russian Militias
Played a greater role in the military than women of any other country Over 800,000 women served on the front line 89 of which eventually received the highest military honor, the Hero of the Soviet Union Sexism still persisted however Very few women were ever promoted to officers Image from

22 Russian Aviators Marina Raskova was the first female aviator
First to become a navigator in Soviet Air Force, in 1933 She convinced Stalin to create female sectors of the air force 586th Fighter Aviation Regime 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regime 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regime Women flew over 30,000 missions Several were named Hero’s of the Soviet Union Raskova included Donnelly, Karen J. American Women Pilots of World War II. New York: The Rosen Group,

23 Russian Land Forces Women were especially talented as snipers
Excellent hand-eye coordination required Nina Lobkovskaya and Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed over 300 German’s as snipers Served as machine gunners, medics, tank drivers, political officers, communication workers Women aided resistance movements again Germany Zinaida Portnova – was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya – awarded Hero of the Soviet Union for work as a Partisan Goldman, Nancy. "The Changing Role Of Women In The Armed Forces." American Journal Of Sociology (4):

24 Natalya Myeklin Born September 8, 1922 in Russia
Combat pilot in one of the three women-only Russian air units Unit named the Night Witches by the Germans Joined in 1942, at 19 years old Flew 980 millions in total by the end of the war In the years following the war, she worked as a translator Currently is a member of the Union of Soviet Writers Goldman, Nancy. "The Changing Role Of Women In The Armed Forces." American Journal Of Sociology (4):

25 Lilya Vladimirovan Litvyak
August 18, 1921 – August 1, 1943 Known as the “white rose of Stalingrad” 1943, awarded the Order of the Red Banner Promoted to Lieutenant, then Senior Lieutenant 296th IAP was renamed the 73 Guards Shot down and killed on August 1, 1943 Completed 168 millions and had 12 victories Text from - Image from -

26 Frieda Belinfante May 10, 1904 – April 26, 1995
Leader of the Dutch Resistance movement Mainly contributed by forging documents for Jews to hide their identities Helped to organize the bombing of the population registry in Amsterdam Destroyed thousands of documents which helped many conceal their identities Pursued a music career in the U.S, but was fired for being a lesbian. Image from -

27 French Resistance “Quoi qu’il arrive, la flamme de la résistance française ne doit pas s’éteindre et ne s’éteindra pas” [Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished] – Charles de Gaulle Movement against German occupation of France Resistance groups consisted of armed men and women, underground newspaper writers and those that facilitated the escape networks Cooperation with Allied secret services helped defeat the Nazi’s Weitz, Margaret C. Sisters in the Resistance. London: Wiley, 1995.

28 French Resistance Notable women from the movement include Abbe Pierre
Lucie Aubrac Jacqueline Auriol Josephine Baker Denise Bloch Martha Desrumeaux Marie Fourcade Eilane Plewman Suzanne Spaak Evelyn Sullerot Weitz, Margaret C. Sisters in the Resistance. London: Wiley, 1995.

29 Women as Spies French women served as spies for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) after the invasion of Southern France Became a part of the 36trh Infantry Division Women were mainly used for short-range intelligence work Odette and Simone, resistance fighters and intelligence workers were went to Germany Forced the surrender of several German’s Discovered information vital to France’s resistance movement Saidel, Rochelle G. The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp

30 French Suffrage Louis Napoleon proposed universal suffrage in the Constitution of 1851 Democratic caeserism, which was the policy used by his uncle Napoleon Bonaparte 1871 Paris Commune granted female suffrage Suffrage revoked with the fall of the commune Was not extended to females until 1944 By Charles de Gaulle A French military and statesman Pictured above right is Charles de Gaulle. Image from - Text from -

31 Dutch Resistance Tiny Mudler, a 19 year old Dutch citizen was a prominent leader of the underground resistance movement “The German’s treated the Dutch very well at first, to gain our trust. Then we began to see what was coming” Worked in the government office, distributing clothing, food and oil Rescued Allied airmen from the Germans The movement destroyed German war industries and lifted Dutch morale

32 The Other Side Many countries and individuals tried to prevent or limit the amount of women involved with actual combat Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway the Soviet Union and Switzerland were the only countries in which women could participate in combat Romantic relationships and friendships could potentially disrupt the unit’s capabilities For many it was just because of tradition, which typically excluded women from combat Virtually no women were involved in combat in World War I The possible subjection of women to sexual and physical abuse

33 The Other Side It was believed that females did not possess the physical strength of their male counterparts Excerpts from With the Armies of the Tsar: A Nurse at the Russian Front in War and Revolution “Some remained in the trenches, fainting and hysterical; others ran or crawled back to the rear.” “Bachkarova retreated with her decimated battalion; she was wrathful, heartbroken, but she had learnt a great truth: women were quite unfit to be soldiers.” Skaine, Rosemarie. Women at War: Gender Issues of Americans in Combat. McFarland, 1999.

34 Effects of Women in the Military
Female involvement in the military, especially in live combat helped progress women’s rights significantly Prior to World War II, there were very few women actually involved in combat By the end of the war women proved that they were highly capable of fulfilling combative positions Different countries allowed varying degrees of female involvement in the military Soviet Union had the greatest amount of female military involvement In the majority of countries women lead resistance movements Lead to greater rights for women, and in many countries, namely France, universal suffrage for the first time Donnelly, Karen J. American Women Pilots of World War II. New York: The Rosen Group,

35 The End Craddick-Adams, Peter. "Women At War: 'She Soldiers Through the Ages'" 1 Mar May 2007 <http://womenshistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=womenshistory&cdn=education&tm=13&gps=74_9_1020_598&f=11&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.bbc.co.uk/history/lj/warslj/women_01.shtml>. Donnelly, Karen J. American Women Pilots of World War II. New York: The Rosen Group, Goldman, Nancy. "The Changing Role Of Women In The Armed Forces." American Journal Of Sociology (4): Jones, David Women Warriors: A History. Brassey's,1997 Lavendar, Lisa. "The Campaign for Women's Suffrage." 28 Nov May 2007 <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/undergrad/modules/hi253/lectures/lecture16/>. ** McDevitt, Bette. "Tiny Mulder: Teenage World War II Resistance Heroine." History Net. 21 Nov June 2007 <www.historynet.com/magazines/world_war_2/ html>. ** Mill, John S. On Liberty and the Subjection of Women. London: Penguin Group, Naughton, Russel. "The Pioneers." 4 Aug May 2007 <http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/rasche.html>. ** Saidel, Rochelle G. The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Skaine, Rosemarie. Women at War: Gender Issues of Americans in Combat. McFarland, 1999. Sulkenen, Irma. "The General Strike and Women's Suffrage." Centenary of Women's Full Political Rights in Finland June 2007 <http://www.aanioikeus.fi/en/articles/strike.htm>. "Women Join German Fighting Forces." BBC News. 2 Jan June 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/ >. ** represents primary sources


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