From Russia with Love

we will take your place

In the mist of World War II, gender roles were once again on the forefront in socialist Russia. The roles of men and women were played out in the 1930’s and were thought to be settled by many Russians. The truth was that in the time of war many young Russians played on this romantic mood that the war brought to traditional gender roles. Men defended their motherland and in the abstract, their mothers, wives and lovers in contrast, while women relied passively on the martial valor of their men. This was at odds with how life was and how women acted during the war. Since all the men were placed in the front, women had to take the roles in factories and communities. This allowed women to have leadership skills that played a very crucial role in the post war era.

One of the most important things that came out of young romance during war time was the skyrocketing illegitimate children that were out of wedlock. The Soviet state wanted to protect the institution of marriage but saw that the need for future soldiers on the front line and workers in the factories was more important. So they made a decree in three articles that insured the child and the mother or father that was still alive, the ability to get all that a Soviet citizen was allowed. The articles also stated what the procedures were for anybody that found themselves in this situation. It also gave how the child was to be named depending on which parent was alive. This new decree was a very radical change in the thinking of illegitimate children because before the war it was illegal to have a child outside of marriage.

Having large birth rates during WWII is not a surprise, but what was is how the Soviet government changed its tune over how these future Soviets came into this world. This is seen by the aid they gave to mothers and their children. A welfare program that ten years ago would have not been thinkable. The Soviet government understood that these children were going to be needed and if they did not help or try and justify what was happening the situation could have broken the family structure that they worked so hard on. It is funny to think how a war and some young people seemed to change a way of thinking about a certain social issue.




6 thoughts on “From Russia with Love

  1. This was a drastic shift in some ways from the abolition of abortion that I discussed in my post “Motherhood: You Can’t Deprive Yourself.” The overall concept of increasing the Soviet population is clear, but the idea of drastically altering law to accommodate the change is drastic. It seems like anything the Soviet government cannot control led to legislation to give the impression they had “control over the situation.” I am surprised there wasn’t an effort for men to support their illegitimate children and wonder if the only welfare was through the state…

  2. This is an interesting post, especially the information about the new decrees on illegitimate children. I guess it makes sense that they would want to ensure population growth for future soldiers and workers, but it’s also somewhat surprising that they bent gender and societal roles to make this possible.

  3. Interesting post! It’s kind of funny to think of Russia as needing MORE soldiers though. Not often you hear about the USSR being short on manpower, and I think that the change in methodology of the Soviets is kind of shocking, but nonetheless, a good change for them to make.

  4. I think that this is a great post because it echoes the sentiments present in the Student Choice post for last week. In that post, abortion was discussed as counterproductive to Russian economic growth because it diminished the number of people in the workforce. In this post, economic concerns again are linked with familial ones. Your post further highlights how under the Soviet government ideas about the economy were linked with ideas about what should constitute a family.

  5. Courtney makes some good points here. This is such an important topic. Think about the demographic crisis the war precipitates: At least 8.7 MILLION battlefield deaths (mostly men), and about 20 million combined civilian / military casualties. The state’s response to children born out of wedlock makes perfect sense if you think about what was at stake.

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