Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Re: Attraction to War
And getting back to one of the questions and the topic...
Yes there WERE Female "snayperskayas" in the Soviet Army, as well as some female Soviet pilots. Merrindale in "Ivan's War" tells of one famous female ace who actually flew in a "mixed" guards squadron until she was killed. Many woman fought as normal grunts too at Stalingrad and Leningrad, and of course in the partisans.
However, MUCH of the use of females in combat after Kursk was curtailed, and towards the end most Soviet women who were in the Army, while probably at the front and under fire more than WACs and Waves, did essentially the same function, clerks, supplies, nurses, orderlies, support..."free a man to fight" even though the propagandists still spread the stories of the "women fighters of Communism" right to the end of the war.
They DID have a couple of squadrons of PO-2 biplane light bombers that flew night interdiction missions over German lines, called the "NIght Witches," ('Night Whores" by the Germans) weho would loter around and drop light bombs just to affect sleep, who got good at cutting engines and gliding over targets silently, dropping a couple of small bombs, and restarting and flying off and coming back to do it again, they were pretty famous and got a "unit citation" from Stalin.
But interestingly, the author spends a lot of time trying to figure out WHY the "Ivans" fought...so well and so hard despite the abuse and treatment by the NKVD and Stalin. She cites the similarities, but mostly the DIFFERENCES of all the studies done about combat and motivation in the West.
"Patriotic fever, God and Country" gets the recruits, just like in any army, but at least in the west, it quickly fades, and usually gets replaced by "duty," which then devolves into simply "get the job done to go home" and survival, sometimes hatred and revenge, but usually later it evoles into a very simple intense hope not to let your "brother's" down. But in the West, there was never really a doubt that you WERE fighting for YOUR way of life, which everyone KNEW was worth defending...
While she found similarities in the Russian Army, the patriotic fervor, then the "duty," then the "comrades," BUT there were so many OTHER factors involved...the hatred for STALIN due to collectivization, the deportation of the kulaks, ALL the shortages, and especially AFTER crossing the border and the troops seeing the WEALTH of capitalism and being able to see the miserableness of their lives, their was at the same time the troops started seeing the WORSE fighting, the survivors started to "buy into" the propaganda, and the speeches of the politruks, and some started to WORSHIP Brother Stalin, many who had never showed an interest, or even belittled it earlier, became "converts" and voluntarily joined the Communist party, listened to and started buying into the calls for "Revenge," and "Punishment" from Stalin that they had to deliver to the Germans so they would NEVER fight a war again (MAYBE they succeeded??)
It's kind of interesting, how the veterans who DID live, even though they KNEW the government was "lying" in it's accounts of the war, AFTER the war became GREAT Communists, and the best SUPPORTERS of "the system," almost so psychologically they could be part of the "fiction," and the "Myths" and avoid dealing with the "realities." And since NO ONE in Russia understood "psychology," there wasn't even a WORD for "Shell Shock" or "Battle fatigue" in Russian, there were very FEW "post traumatic stress cases" in the USSR, (although MANY more suicides and "self-inflicted" wounds than in the West, even at the front!) even though they saw the MOST and WORST fighting. And ALWAYS in the background was the ALTERNATIVE which was Soviet "Mental Hospitals," in the 50s, which were just different "gulags."
Russian "civilian" psychiatry and psychology is still a new art, and is now deeply involved in Western ideas, so the author thinks there will be a LOT of new material and ideas about "Why men fight" comparing notes from both sides, untainted by Soviet "Myth."
The problems we face today are
there because the people who work
for a living are outnumbered by those
who vote for a living.