In 1943 something drastically changed overnight

Have you ever wondered why so few female soldiers fought the second world war? Well, let's try to answer that question.
For much of the 20th century, women were supposed to be housewives; they could not acquire a mortgage, insurance or bank account for themselves and - in many countries - were not allowed to vote or drive a car. In that sense, emancipation was a far cry.
In 1943 something drastically changed overnight. All across the world, the number of women involved directly or indirectly in the war effort boomed.
Women suddenly were a big strategic factor. However, there were big differences in the way this factor was used throughout the world.
The USSR was the most emancipated nation of them all. Does that come as a surprise? Keep reading!


In february 1943, "Rosie the Riveter" burst onto the scene. She was the new role model for women, invented in the hope she would encourage women to get a job in the war industry.
This way, millions of men could potentially be freed up for the army by Rosie's campaign. Excellent idea, but did it work?
Yes, it did. Women went to work in the factories en masse. They learned the trade and took over from the men that were about to be enlisted.


In 1943 something drastically changed overnight
Rosie the riveter

Soviet Union

There were female partisan and resistance fighters fighting everywhere in the war. However, the Soviet Union was the only nation that allowed women to fight in regular front line units.
More than 800.000 women served in the Soviet army during the war. What's more, they were "not only to be employed as nurses and cooks" according to official policy.
Female fighters included snipers, tank crew, drivers and pilots. In fact, the only female fighter aces ever became aces over Stalingrad in their Yak-1 fighters.
The famous "night witches" kept the Germans awake at night, flying antiquated biplanes in all conditions. Some of these women are credited with close to 1.000 "sorties". That is over two years of consecutive days on which they flew night missions. Besides that, all of these were flown over enemy territory. How about that for nerves of steel!


In 1943 something drastically changed overnight
Natalya Meklin, hero of the Soviet Union with 980 combat missions in ww2

Great Britain

Many women served in the British armed forces, but none of them were asked to do combat.
Clementine, Winston Churchill's wife, 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. Contrary to Soviet women, they were not allowed to fly combat missions in the RAF; a missed opportunity?


In 1943 something drastically changed overnight
2.000 women applied to join the WAAF every week in 1943



The same thing happened in Germany, also in February 1943! Women suddenly started playing a bigger part in the war than before, be it for different reasons altogether.
The number of women in German military service was negligible when the war started. Most women were expected to be housewives, raising new generations of soldiers.
Then, the German 6th army surrendered at Stalingrad. About 400.000 German casualties had to be replaced. Women were now required to work in the industry, to replace the male factory workers that were drafted into the army.
This massive reorganisation was one of the results of Goebbels' announcement of "Totaler Krieg".

For German women it ended up different than for women anywhere else. They were the vast majority of the "man"power that cleared the debris when the war had ended.
With the men still PoW's and the cities ruined, it was the women who made German cities inhabitable again. They did most of the work with their bare hands, and it took them years to get the job done.


In 1943 something drastically changed overnight
In some cities it took the Trümmerfrauen 4 years to clear the debris.

The question remains

The USSR was the only nation to train women in fighting roles. Why did the others not even try?
Surely, in the years following the war, things changed - and in today's world, women are serving in just about every kind of military organization.
Surely, some smaller changes happened before February 1943, but the public emergence of women as a major strategic factor happened in that one month.

Women in CtA: Gates of Hell

For CtA - Gates of Hell, we might find the time in the future to integrate female soldiers. And maybe someone will add female characters via a mod, who knows?
Since we tend to follow history closely, like we described in a blogpost, female soldiers in the game would be a nicely realistic touch, agree?