Active military service in Hungary Women have been allowed to marry since 1945but this does not mean that they stayed away from the battlefields during the world wars, in fact. In the field of air defense, logistics, administration, news reporting or intelligence, and, of course, they played a major role in the provision of health care even before this, and in 1950 the first women soldiers were also inaugurated.
However, prior to this, women also fell into two long wars, so that their social roles were initially quite limited
– in the First World War, the tasks they performed were mostly determined by what the era, i.e. its men, thought about women.
The World War also posed many challenges at home
The most important task of women at the beginning of the twentieth century they were seen as support for fighting men In Hungary. The ideal of the unconditionally helpful and self-sacrificing woman prevailed, of the one who even sacrifices his values on the altar of the homeland in a war that was originally thought to last almost never. He went to war in our country However, some of the 3.5 million men never returned home, and those who did this prematurely returned with serious injuries, permanent physical and mental wounds that changed their entire lives.
In the Second World War, the presence of women on the battlefield was no longer so unusualRFStock / Getty Images Hungary
At that time, nursing was the main task for women in our country as well: it soon became clear that the work could not be called easy, in addition to being mentally taxing, as a result the nursing profession enjoyed serious prestige and financial appreciation. Since at the end of the fighting, only about half a million Hungarian men returned home unharmed, and one and a half million arrived wounded from the fronts, this was very necessary.
It was also a serious job for the women who stayed at home to be able to provide for their families in the middle of the deficit economy and in the absence of men.
On the one hand, this required the kind of creativity from which they managed to put food on the table that looked appropriate in all circumstances, and on the other hand, it completed the process in which women appeared on the labor market in increasing numbers. During the Second World War, it was no longer unusual for a woman to appear as a ticket inspector or street sweeper, but the feminization of the teaching profession and the large-scale appearance of women in higher education can also be attributed to this time.
Of course, this was not an option, but a compulsion, often giving rise to abuses,
and some men continued to look down on the women who proved every day that they could do the jobs that had been considered masculine in the exact same way that the frontline fighters had done before.
In some countries, women could be soldiers even then
The life of military women was more difficult than exotic, whatever they suggested at the timeGeorge Peters / Getty Images Hungary
At the same time, there were countries in the First World War that regular women’s teams were formed, this included, for example, Serbia and Russia, which also fought with women’s units in both wars. Typically, Western countries have been reluctant to enlist women on battlefields: The first women’s auxiliary corps was established in England in 1917, which swelled to 18,000 people in a single year, and in France, in 1916, the barracks were opened to the gender considered weaker at the time, amid many doubts. Even if they did not immediately go to the fronts, they could also do the type of activity at home that was strongly related to battlefield performance.
“Our armies were saved by the women working in the munitions factories and they ensured our victory” – announced in August 1916 British Munitions Minister Edwin Samuel Montagu. This also shows that the active role of women was not rejected or misunderstood at all levels.
In the Second World War, they could also wear uniforms
The Second World War, of course, continued the processes that had started in connection with women’s work. In this war, it was a serious problem in most countries that it was absolutely necessary to the masses working in the factoryso that life can go on in the hinterland, and so that an adequate amount of ammunition and other military equipment can be provided to the fronts for successful warfare.
In the United States alone, six million women worked in munitions factories and three million volunteered for the Red Cross.
Women were not allowed in the field of combat, but auxiliary corps were formed in all areas of the army, and in these they were already expected to do their work. Of course, this did not mean that there were no women in the immediate vicinity of conflicts: caring for the wounded, sick and dying their task remained on the front line. At the same time, General Eisenhower underlined that the country also needs women in uniform so that it does not come out of the Second World War as a loser:
with this message, he was able to convince a total of 350,000 American women to sign up for the various auxiliary corps.
They were driving a truck, they repaired airplanes, worked as laboratory technicians, installed parachutes, radioed, analyzed photographs, tested military planes, or even took a role in the training of anti-aircraft gunners, supporting the training as a target. But nurses died a heroic death on the fronts, 565 female soldiers were honored for their heroism, and 1,600 nurses were similarly recognized.
Female snipers on the front lines
Female soldiers also received recognition awardsCate Gillon / Getty Images Hungary
However, in other countries women also had other tasks on the battlefield. In the Soviet Union, they served as scouts, anti-aircraft gunners, tank drivers and partisan fighters, and the army counted on them as pilots and snipers. Women flying rickety planes made more than 30,000 sorties and dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs on the Nazis. 30 women from their unit died a heroic death, and 24 of them received the Hero of the Soviet Union award, which is the highest military award. 2,500 women were trained as snipers, but even without formal training, many of them picked up guns to aim at German officers.
In Great Britain women were deployed in air defense: their task was to spot, track and target enemy aircraft, but despite the fact that they were on duty even at night, they were not entrusted with shooting down the enemy, this could only be done by a man.
Hitler’s Germany initially insisted that a woman’s place in war was at home, but in the end the idea did not prove tenable, and 450,000 women were enlisted in the auxiliary forces. They also worked in the ranks of the air defense, but the Nazis claimed that they would not get their hands on a weapon. This changed in the last period of the war, but too late –
by the time armed training for women could begin, World War II was over.
Violence and humiliation at home
When we talk about the relationship between women and the Second World War, we cannot ignore the fact that In Hungary, in the hundreds of thousands women were raped by soldiers of the Red Army: there is no exact number, partly because the whole country tried not to process but to forget this fact.
Until the regime change, it was not possible to talk openly in our country about the trauma caused by the soldiers to huge masses of women, thus destroying destinies, families, lives and communities.
The Soviet soldiers marched into the country in the order of millions, and they carried out their terrible deeds partly out of revenge.
However, this was not the only ordeal that women worldwide had to deal with after the war.
It was also more difficult for women who served on or near the battlefields to access war aid and veterans programs.
They were happy with their work as long as the fighting raged, but when it ended, it was more likely for the men returning home to work again. So it was not real emancipation that took place during the fighting: it was born of necessity and then disappeared. For women they still had a lot to do in order to count them as people even when there is no big problem.
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