During the years of WWII Russian women showed an example of unprecedented act of labor
for the sake of Motherland. Around 15 million women worked hard for the home front.
Women were working in the war industries, building ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weaponry. Women also worked in factories, munitions plants and farms, and also drove trucks, provided logistic support for soldiers and entered professional areas of work that were previously the preserve of men.
A singificant labour force was necessary to provide the increase of military manufacture. According to a special decree issued by the Soviet government in November 1941, a large-scale production or weapons was to be started in USSR plants and factories.
It is known that WWII stared with a big inferiority ration for the USSR. Destruction of major economic regions and occupation of the significant area of the country right in the beginning of the war had a dramatic effect on Russian war effort. USSR had to mobilize their civilian industries and domestic populations, especially the women, in order to turn out weapons and goods necessary for waging war .
Only in Moscow about 374.000 women-housekeepers returned back to work, 1/3 of them started work in the industry. The retired women also came back to the plants. Russian women made 45 % of all work force of the country those days. In some fields of the economy, like transport (railways) consumer goods industry, communication, agriculture, foodstuff industry the percentage of female workers was considerably higher - up to 90%. The percentage of women working in agriculture in 1940 was 52% whereas in 1944 it increased up to 80%. Women worked days and night, being away from home for weeks.
Learning male professions became country wide. The patriotic movement in the industry and agriculture was focused on the output rate and liberating workers. Women worked double ships to let men join the army. Russian women took work places in defense industry, coal mining (40% of workers in 1945 were women), metal manufacture (around 50% of workers), oil and gas industry (48,5% of workers in 1942) and construction. 61,3% of women worked in transport and took non-combat jobs in the fleet.
Agriculture suffered most during WWII. The majority of men from the villages joined the Red army or lefts placed to work in the industry. Russian women remained to carry out a hardly possible task to feed 11 million army and 80 million civilians in harsh conditions when the agricultural area, machinery, cattle and manpower was severely cut down by the war.. According to the statistics, aged and under aged population made up to 95 % of collective farm manpower. There were the women that had to manage farms and toil days and night.
A great number of women had to leave homes and children and perform defense work near Leningrad
from July to December 1941. Since August 1941 fortification was performed under the bombing, artillery
bombardment, with the front line only 4 km away from the work place, in severe weather conditions.
The remaining population of Leningrad was mainly women as a significant part of male population volunteered to defend the city along with the Red army soldiers. The citizens of Leningrad dug out up to 625 km of antitank trench; 406 km of escarps and counterscarps, constructed about 50.000 of vertical posts, 306 km of the tree barriers, 35 km of barricades in the city itself, 635 meters of defence wiring, 15.000 permanent fire positions and earth-and-timber emplacements, 22.000 fire units in the city, 2300 command observation posts, etc.
During the Siege of Sevastopol (1941-1942), the citizens showed the heroic deed of labour. Workers of the Marine plant repaired the ships, assembled guns, equipped two ironclad trains, built and fit the floating squadron called "Hands out" that protected the city from fascists air raids from the sea.
Fascists called it "the square of death".
Russian women replaced men all over in Marine construction plan in Sevastopol mastering new professions and working days and nights. A well-known name of Anastasia Chaus, a one-handed worker of Sevastopol Marine plant that stayed in the city even after loosing one hand in bombing and worked on the plant overfulfiling a plan came into the city history. Anastasia was awarded an Order of the Red Star.
The read army soldiers, defenders of besieged Sevastopol were in constant need of mortar and flame guns, mines and bombs. Military production and supply was hard to perform since the majority of skilled workers were evacuated, equipment brought out, thousands of Sevastopol citizens joined the army, partisan and underground resistance, local anti-aircraft defense. So the main workforce was women and teenagers.
The bombing increased daily: fascist aviation bombed ships industries, railway and residential area. The citizens of Sevastopol had to move underground To supply the front with all the necessary equipment and manufacture 2 underground, industrial and maintenance complexes were arranged. One of the complexes was disposed in the underground tunnels of Troitsk velley ("Troitskaya balka"), another one was arranged in Inkerman valler ("Inkermaskaya balka"), in the former tunnels of Inkerman champagne factory .
Russian women of Sevastopol made the major technical and engineering personnel of these complexes. They had to manage the professions of turner, mechanic, miller, mounter, engineer to replace men. Women made shells and fuses, assembled guns, electrical components, details for ships and submarines.
The secret complexes that made a whole underground city inhabited military plants, workshops, , power stations, storehouses, bomb-shelters,. Most civilian objects like hospitals, school, nursery and bakery, textile workshops and club were located in Inkerman tunnels where Sevastopol women treated the soldiers, sewed uniform and closing, made bread.
It is hard to overestimate a heroic deed of labour of Russian women in non-combat jobs during WWII. It would be fair to say that they bore the burden of that war.
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