Women at war

How a poster helped the female factor boom in ww2


Did you know that 78 years ago, Rosie the riveter burst onto the scene? She was created to get more women to start a job in the war industry.
Rosie was the face for a campaign that was started to free millions of men for the army; but did it work?
Yes, it did. women went to work in the factories in their masses. After learning the trade, they would take over from the men that were about to be enlisted.

At the same time in Europe

During the same month, the same thing happened in Germany! While triggered by different events and policies, women suddenly started to play a bigger part in the war than before.
Germany was fighting the USSR, where women were fighting in almost every echelon. For that reason the USSR seems to stand out as the most emancipated nation of them all.
Does that come as a surprise? Keep reading!


Rosie the riveter


Soviet Union

Besides female partisan and resistance fighters everywhere in the war, the Soviet Union was the only nation that allowed women to fight in front line units.
A source reveals a total number of more than 800.000 women serving in the Soviet army during the war. Army policy dictated women were not only to be employed as nurses and cooks. They were female snipers, tank crew, drivers 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 "sorties". That's well over 2 years of consecutive days on which they flew night missions over enemy territory!


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 none of them were asked to do combat.
Winston Churchill's wife, Clementine, fought for emancipation for many years. She visited factories and lobbied for better workers' circumstances, especially 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



The number of women in German military service was negligible when the war started. Most women were told to be housewives, giving birth to a new generation of soldiers. In february 1943, after the surrender of the 6th army at Stalingrad, however, things had to change. The German army struggled to replace the lost manpower on the eastern front; one meaning of "wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?"  was that more women went to work in the industry than ever before. Just like in the USA, this resulted in more manpower being available for military use.
For German women it ended up being quite different than in the USA though. They provided the vast majority of the "man"power that was needed when the war had ended.
With the men still PoW's and the cities ruined, they were the ones that made German cities inhabitable again. Most of it was done by hand, and it took years to get the job done.


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


The question remains

Besides the USSR, why was there no serious attempt anywhere to train women in fighting roles? Why not even try? Would that not have saved the precious time in which you kept your soldiers-to-be tied down for the training of these women?
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, some change had already been there before February 1943, but that one month, just 78 years ago, must stand out as the public emergence of women as a war- winning factor.

Women in CtA: Gates of Hell

In Gates of Hell, eventually we might be able to 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, agree?