Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Robert Blobaum


Relying on numerous testimonies of Soviet women combatants, this thesis demonstrates the wartime and post-war realities of Soviet women soldiers. About a million of women combatants took an active part in the war, yet they remained in the shadow of the Great Victory of 1945. This paper explores the unwillingness of the Soviet state to recognize the contribution of Soviet women combatants in the fighting of the Second World War. Why did the myth of the Great Patriotic War exclude women? Why were some women soldiers more worthy of recognition than others? What, compared to female veterans, was the status of male veterans in the post-World War Two Soviet society?;The main findings of the thesis showed that the reasons for the marginalization of female combatants in the Soviet society include the gender ideology of the Soviet state and marginal status of women within it, the pro-natalist policies of the Soviet state in which a woman was first of all a mother and keeper of the household, and the psychological effects of war on former women combatants. Thus the ideal image of a Soviet woman was that of a mother and a housekeeper and left no room for that of a woman soldier.;The second part of this thesis compared the status of female and male veterans. The results of that comparison demonstrated that Soviet veterans of the Second World War were all neglected, regardless of their sex. It was not only women combatants who remained in the shadow of the Great Victory, but also male veterans of the Great Patriotic War were ignored and at times victimized by the Stalinist state. They did not receive any more recognition than female combatants. Maybe it seemed that they were proclaimed "heroes" more often, but in practice such proclamation brought nothing with it.;In the narrative of the Myth of the Great Patriotic War female combatants were invisible, whereas male combatants were characterless. The victory was proclaimed as a collective achievement of the Soviet state and society, and the number of recognized heroes of the Great Patriotic War remained minimal. Research on the experience of Soviet veterans remains minimal. With each passing year, veterans decrease in number. Hence there is an immediate need to conduct new research on the topic. Otherwise, the real story of these veterans will never be told.