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Article

Мужчины и женщины в Красной армии (1941-1945)

Cahiers du Monde Russe. 2011. Т. 52. № 2-3. С. 405-422.

The article analyzes the changes that took place in the Soviet people’s sexual behavior during the Second World War, particularly in the Red Army. It mainly draws on personal documents – diaries, memoirs, correspondence, interviews, wartime folklore. Nearly 34 million men were drafted before and during the war. The male/female ratio on the front was inversely proportional to that of the rear: women were lacking on the front, and men were lacking in the rear. Nearly 500,000 women from various social layers were serving in the army, with motivations as diverse as patriotic conviction, hunger, or the need to find a fiancé. Even though they were subjected to sexual exploitation, mainly by officers, they were not always mere passive victims of their superiors’ passions. Several of them, particularly those belonging to the lowest social layers of society, found the opportunity to settle down and improve their conditions.The war brought about changes in the relationships between the sexes comparable to those of the sexual revolution of the 1960s in the West, but only on the surface. The changes that affected morality were due to various factors, mainly the upheaval of the war, which led to the destruction of the traditional way of life and generally admitted rules of conduct.