Mariia Huk

Mariia Huk

post-graduate student of the historical faculty of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

ORCID: 0000-0002-5321-0373

DOI: 10.17721/2522-4611.2019.40.6


Abstract. The article is focuses on the study of the issues of participation of women of Ukraine in military formations in the First World War by modern Ukrainian historiography (1991-2016). Based on the topic, the author tried to solve the following research tasks: to identify which aspects of women's military history are within the interest of historians, to analyze the scale, character and level of research of the topic.

The author found that the study of women's military history is gaining momentum. Historians are actively searching women's stories in the sources of those times; they are in the process of gathering information. They call military history “personal” because research on the subject is partially based on reports of the press about women volunteers and mainly on participants' personal documents, memoirs and letters. In the letters, women wrote about the way to the front, military life, a little about participation in battles, relations with soldiers; they also left information about each other. At the same time, each of the women had personal experience of war, own motives and results. Therefore, historians concluded that "this experience is quite difficult to summarize ".

Modern researchers approach the study of women's stories not only in terms of heroism but trying to understand the causes and consequences of women's actions. The authors mention such main reasons as boredom of everyday life, escape from duties and national impulse. Inspired by the new fashionable views on life, the girls tried to escape from their everyday duties; they wanted to overcome social barriers and to prove that women were capable to cope with any work. The escape to the front was an attempt to change the way of life. Women who came to the front and participated in hostilities had to adapt quickly to difficult conditions and trials; they had to fight and to protect their own lives. The authors also analyze how society perceived the phenomenon of women in the war. Military commanders heroized their actions with the reason to raise the fighting spirit. However, the views of military men varied: the village guys welcomed and supported the girls; on the contrary, the men from the intelligent circle condemned women regarding them as competitors. Civil women believed that the girls had forgotten their traditional duty, they could have been more helpful in hospitals and doing charity. The author of the article also found that the participation of women in the military unit of the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen was better studied.

The researchers concluded that the Ukrainian women who lived in the Russian Empire supported the call in 1917 of the Provisional Government and Maria Bochkareva to form women's combat battalions. Women were motivated to go to the front by the same reasons as women in the ranks of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen: failures in love, the desire to escape from violence and humiliation in the family, domestic problems, the desire to avenge the dead relatives and loved ones. In big cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Poltava, the Ukrainian women willingly enrolled in the army. Anyway, the inclusion of women in the combat units of the army of the Russian Empire was found out fragmentary, there are almost no names and characteristics of the activity of the women's battalions. Only a few researchers pay attention to the messages in the then newspapers about escapes and the heroic deeds of girls in the war. These issues require the search of information and detailed study.

The author came to the conclusion that most of the questions remain scientifically open requiring the search for information about women in the ranks of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and the army of the Russian Empire for the generalization of information and creation of a coherent picture of the military service of women at the front of the First World War.

Key words: The First World War, Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, battalions, women.

Received by the editorial board: 2.04.2019


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