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Soviet women in World War II

In response to the high casualties suffered by male soldiers, at first Stalin allowed planning which would replace men with women in second lines of defense, such as anti-aircraft guns and medical aid.

Subsequently, they will often be on the front line. These provided gateways through which women could gradually become involved in combat.

For example, women comprised 43% of physicians, who were sometimes required to carry rifles as they retrieved men from firing zones.

There were 800,000 women who served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the war, which is roughly 3 percent of total military personnel.

The number of women in the Soviet military in 1943 was 348,309, 473,040 in 1944, and then 463,503 in 1945.

Female captain in the Soviet army medical service, 1945.

Of the medical personnel in the Red Army, 40% of paramedics, 43% of surgeons, 46% of doctors, 57% of medical assistants, and 100% of nurses were women.

Nearly 200,000 were decorated and 89 of them eventually received the Soviet Union’s highest award, the Hero of the Soviet Union, among which some served as pilots, snipers, machine gunners, tank crew members and partisans, as well as in auxiliary roles.

At first, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thousands of women who volunteered were turned away. However, after massive losses in the face of Operation Barbarossa, attitudes had to be changed, ensuring a greater role for women who wanted to fight. In the early stages of the war, the fastest route to advancement in the military for women was service in medical and auxiliary units.

The Soviet Union was the first nation to allow women pilots to fly combat missions. These regiments with strength of almost hundred airwomen, flew a combined total of more than 30,000 combat sorties, produced over twenty Heroes of the Soviet Union, and included two fighter aces. This military unit was initially called Aviation Group 122 while the three regiments received training.

Header: Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper in the Red Army during World War II, credited with 309 confirmed kills, making her the most successful female sniper in history.

Lyudmila was nicknamed “Lady Death” due to her incredible ability with a sniper rifle. She served in the Red Army during the Siege of Odessa and the Siege of Sevastopol.

She was injured in battle by a mortar shell and evacuated to Moscow. After Pavlichenko recovered from her injuries, she trained other Red Army Snipers, and was a public spokesperson for the Red Army.

In 1942, she visited the White House.