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Russian Women Soldiers During World War I

1492 words - 6 pages

In almost every age and era and virtually every area of the world women have engaged in combat, partly with the knowledge and consent of the military authorities and partly unknown to the latter, in which case, disguised, they made their way into the army. Statistics concerning the number of female soldiers in the various armies during the World War were not published; we have to rely upon speculation it is true that there were women soldiers fighting for Russia during World War One. The creation of several women's units to fight on the front lines to try to prevent defeat after the first Russian revolution is a prime example. Led by women such as Maria Bochkareva who is also know as Yashka, these Death or Shock battalions as they would become known as were created with the "idea of shaming the Russian men into fighting better." They took part in the last major Russian offensive before Russia pulled out of the war. Russian women have always been involved in the Russian military and in many cases they have had extremely important roles.The creation of several women's battalions after the first Russian revolution aroused the greatest enthusiasm. After being persuaded by Maria Bochkareva, Alexander Kerensky the country's new provisional leader allowed for the creation of these units. This first battalion was comprised of 250 women, some of who had already participated in battles, some of who had belonged to the sanitary corps as nurses, and there were also some eighteen-year-old students.Maria Bochkareva had a huge involvement in the creation of the Women's Death Battalion. Born in 1889, she was the daughter of a former serf and began working at the age of 8. She was seduced at age fifteen, beaten by drunken lover, betrayed by another, sold into a brothel, seduced by a Siberian governor and at age twenty five she had had enough. "She emerged from this part of her life as a patriotic, naïve, religious, ambitious, and sometimes cruel woman." The news of the Great War brought her back to life. She received permission after portioning the czar to enlist in the military. She was thrown into battle and she soon became and authentic and much decorated heroine. She left the front line temporarily in 1917 because of disgust with the defeatist agitation in the ranks. "During one of her visits to the capital she suggested forming a "Women's Battalion of Death" under her command to serve as a model of valor and to shame those who did not want to fight." On May 21 in 1917 at the Marynsky Theater Bochkareva announced her plans and in June of 917 she gave a powerful speech on the steps St. Isaacs Cathedral in Petrograd. She Stated "Come with us in the name of your fallen heroes. Come with us to dry the tears and heal the wounds of Russia. Protect her with yours lives. We women are turning into tigresses to protect our children from a shameful yoke - to protect the freedom of our country." Over the next few days over two thousand women enlisted into the new...

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