College of Liberal Arts

Heroic Motherhood: Soviet Women in Postwar Russia

Friday Oct 20, 2017 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM | GAR 1.102

The History Department’s Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality Presents:

"Heroic Motherhood: Soviet Women in Postwar Russia"

Travis Gray
Ph.D. Student, Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin

The Wehrmacht’s occupation of Western Russia was one of the most tragic episodes of the Second World War. The extent of the destruction is well known: millions dead, thousands of homes destroyed, and massive economic losses. However, the war’s immediate aftermath in Russia’s western provinces has received little attention from scholars. This is particularly true of gender issues and the Party’s perception of women during the reconstruction of liberated cities. My paper sheds light on these issues by examining how the process of reconstruction produced distinct social burdens that primarily affected Russian women. Utilizing Party records and unpublished memoirs from Moscow’s state archives, I argue that Russian women not only faced significant material shortages after the war, but also dealt with conflicting social obligations to both participate in militarized labor activities while simultaneously adhering to the norms of domestic life. These burdens, in turn, produced a significant amount of popular discontent among women who believed that the Party was not doing enough to provide for its citizens.

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