Women at war

The female factor; the USA.

Did you know that 77 years ago this month, Rosie the riveter was introduced to the US people? She was invented by a government that wanted women to start a job in the war industry.
Rosie's inception was meant to enable hundreds of thousands of men to join the army - and the scheme worked; women went to work in the factories and after learning the ropes, they could take over men's jobs and the men could be enlisted. Even though women served in the US army, they were not asked to do combat.
At the same time, the same thing happened in Germany! While triggered by different events and policies, women started to play a bigger part in the war than before, and like Rosie the riveter, it happened 77 years ago this month.
If you look at the different approaches that were used by the nations that fought in the second world war, you can safely say that many nations roughly did the same.
The questions that remain are: what kept most nations from using women as soldiers? Wouldn't it have been quicker to train Rosie to be a soldier? Why train a male to become a soldier and train a woman to take his place?

Rosie the riveter


Soviet Union

The Soviet Union took a radically different route which allowed for women not only working in the industry; they were able to fight at the front.
The red army enlisted women for all roles, including for combat.
A source reveals a total number of more than 800.000 women serving in the Soviet army during the war. There was a policy to use women not only as nurses and cooks, but also as snipers and pilots. In fact, the only female fighter aces ever were VVS pilots, defending Stalingrad in Yak-1 fighters.
Other female pilots were the famous "night witches", some of whom flew close to 1.000 combat missions and who got their nickname from their enemy.
How many fighting units get that kind of fear- driven respect?

Natalya Meklin, hero of the Soviet Union with 980 combat missions in ww2


Great Britain

In Britain, many women served in the armed forces, but they were not asked to do combat.
Winston Churchill's wife, Clementine, who fought for emancipation for many years, visited factories and lobbied for better workers circumstances, including those for women.
Female RAF pilots, however, were only allowed to ferry aircraft from factories to RAF facilities. No combat missions for the women in the RAF; did they miss an opportunity?

2.000 women applied to join the WAAF every week in 1943



Did you know that In Germany, women were supposed to just give birth to a new generation of soldiers?
The number of women in military service was negligible at first. After the surrender of the 6th army at Stalingrad, however, things had to change. The German army desperately sought to replace the lost manpower on the eastern front; the translation of "wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?", was also meant in part to pave the way for use of more women in the industry than ever before and, like in the USA, free manpower for military use.
For German women it ended up being quite different though. Women and children provided the vast majority of "man"power when the war ended. With the men still PoW's and the cities ruined, they were called upon to make German cities inhabitable again when the war was over. For years they toiled to get the job done. They called them "Trümmerfrauen", and cities like Aachen rightfully honour these women with monuments to their hard work in rebuilding the country post- war. What would Germany have done without them?

In some cities it took the Trümmerfrauen 4 years to clear the debris.


The question remains

None of these stories answer our previous questions. It certainly seems like only the red army got it right in ww2; surely, in the years following the war, things changed - and in today's world, women can be found in just about every military organization. Surely, the changes effecively had already started before february 1943 but that one month, just 77 years ago, must stand out as the public emergence of women as a war- winning factor.
In Gates of Hell, eventually we might make sure that women are represented the right way. The initial release will not; but given the fact that we got the idea from the community, the seeds have already been sown. It would be a fitting way to honour their exploits, wouldn't you agree?