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Women In Combat: The World War Ii Experience In The United States, Great Britain, Germany, And The Soviet Union

888 words - 4 pages

Thousands of men enlisted and were sent to fight during World War II. However, many people are unaware of the role that women played in the war, not only in taking over the jobs that would have previously belonged to men at home, but also in combat. D’Ann Campbell’s article “Women in Combat: The World War II Experience in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union” explores this topic. Campbell argues that the role of women in combat has been overlooked in the study of the Second World War. She states that, in fact, “the history everyone has learned about the greatest and best-known war of all times has airbrushed out the combat roles of women” (323). In the article, Campbell compares the methods of the four major powers involved in the war, the Unites States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union, of involving women in combat, and what those methods used say about gender roles in that particular country.
Campbell begins by examining the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps in the United States and the “experiments” that the Army General Staff held “to see how well American women could perform” (302). Ultimately, they discovered that “mixed gender units performed better than all male units” (302). Similar British experiences found much the same thing; in fact, it was the model of the British army that the United States “was watching closely” (306). In Britain in 1941, 125,000 women were drafted into the military, while 430,000 more volunteered over the next three years (306). The purpose of these units was to allow more men to fight offensively on the continent while the women protected the defensive lines. Neither country allowed the women to fight, however; in the United States the public was not “ready to accept the use of women in field force units” (305). Likewise, in Great Britain, “the public would not support a proposal to allow women to fire the AA guns” (313).
In Germany, Hitler wanted women to “remain at home and be full-time wives and mothers” (313). Similar to Great Britain, German woman soldiers “learned all aspects of the guns, but were forbidden to fire them” (316). Unlike the first three nations discussed, the Soviet Union “mobilized their women early, bypassing the ‘auxiliary’ stage entirely” and “about eight hundred thousand women served in the Red Army during World War II” (318). In Germany, Great Britain, and America women’s combat roles were not publicised, while the Soviets “boasted that their women were in combat units” (320). Campbell argues that the reason for this difference is that in the United States, Great...

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