Russian women played an extremely important role during WWII. Most women worked in domestic industries such as transport, agriculture, and other civilian roles. They often worked double shifts in order to free up enlisted men to fight and increase military production. The war on Soviet territory had a huge effect on Russian families, for there was scarcely a family in the country that did not sustain losses during the conflict.
Konstantin Simonov captured the essence of the struggles between those on the front lines and those at home in his poem “Wait for Me.” The poem had an enormous impact on both men and women during WWII. Soldiers brought this poem into battle, and they sent it home to girlfriends and wives to encourage them to wait out the struggles of being away from their loved ones. The myth of the war was that, like the poem depicted, all would be right and the same when the men returned from fighting. This wasn’t always the case, for the “stress and conditions of war were such that not all the women waited for the men who loved them” (RR p. 509).
“Only we will ever know
how I stayed alive:
you knew how to wait, that’s why,
more than all the rest.”
These lyrics, and the poem in its entirety, was extremely touching to me. As the daughter of military veterans, I can sympathize with the plight of war and the effects it can have on loved ones. I can imagine that was extremely difficult for Russian men to leave their families, and for women to wait on their lovers, sons, brothers, and fathers to return under such uncertain circumstances.