War often asks ordinary citizens to act differently than they would when their country is at peace. This includes women who for the most part, remained in the background.
One of the lesser known and appreciated historical facts about World War II is that the war motivated women to stretch their legs beyond the traditional roles that they were accustomed to. In The Soviet Union, women not only actively joined the armed forces, but also were part of same-sex combat units that successfully fought back against the Germans.
The story of these women is laid out in the 2015 book, Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Ace’s. Written by Lyuba Vinogradova, the author pulls together interviews with the surviving airwomen to tell the story of the squadrons who fought for their country while fighting sexism within the military.
I found this book to be not only educational and well written, but extremely interesting. The author found a way to bring her subjects to life in a way that not only appealed to both the feminist and the history nerd in me.
I recommend it.