Women of Kazakhstan during the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet historiography (1941–1964)

The article is devoted to the analysis of the Soviet historiography (1941-1964), problems of the participation of women of Kazakhstan in the Great Patriotic War. New approaches to the study of the period of 1941–1945, as well as the role of women of Kazakhstan in the war require a clear understanding of the achievements and gaps of the Soviet historiography. Three stages of the problem under study in the Soviet historical science are considered: I — the war itself, II — the first post-war decade; III — after the XX Congress of the Communist Party, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. Such periodization is explained by concrete historical, political and ideological conditions characteristic of each period. The authors highlight the process of incrementing scientific knowledge on women's issues at every historiographic stage. The main characteristics and features of the Soviet historiography are noted; the methodological foundations, achievements and limits of the research are shown. The authors come to the conclusion that during the period under study, a special study on the women of the republic at the front and in the rear during the war did not appear. In this regard, it became necessary to conduct such studies on the basis of new methodological approaches and rethink accumulated knowledge.

Such issues as the participation of women of Kazakhstan in the defense of the country, their contribution to the victory in the Great Patriotic War continue to attract close attention of historians. The relevance of the research is connected with the need to reassess the military and labor feat of women of Kazakhstan in the context of the processes and events of the war years. In the extreme conditions of war, all life standards and the foundations of peacetime were broken. There was a sharp drop in the standard of living, the deterioration of the living and working conditions of the female population. In fact, women were equated to men, regardless of the features of the female body. To a large extent, the increased interest in the study of the female aspect in the war is determined by the needs of filling the existing gaps in the historical knowledge of Kazakhstan. Thus, in the historiography of Kazakhstan, the problems of motherhood and childhood during the war years, the impact of war on women, and the practice of their survival under extreme conditions are almost not studied. In this connection, the need for a critical rethinking of the accumulated Soviet historiographic experience of women's participation in the war has arisen.

In the Soviet historiography of the problem of the participation of women of Kazakhstan in the Great Patriotic War, it is necessary to distinguish three stages: the period of 1941–1945 is a military one; the period of 1945–1956 is a post-war period; the period after the XX Congress of the Communist Party (1956–1964). Such an approach, in our opinion, is applicable to the analysis of the historiography of the problem being studied, since its study was closely related to the general trends in the development of historical knowledge. Kazakhstani historiography of the Great Patriotic War has advantages and disadvantages of the all-union historiography. Thus, the analysis of the patriotic activity of women at the front and in the rear was carried outon the basis of the Marxist-Leninist worldview, in the historical party and political propaganda. Soviet historiography was dogmatic in nature. It was characterized by integrity and unity of views. Women's issues were developed in the general context of the official military historiography formulated by J.V. Stalin.

A characteristic feature of the first period is the accumulation of factual material, the creation of popular research propaganda articles and brochures on military historical topics, lecture and propaganda activities in military units at the front and rear, in hospitals and enterprises. The task of covering the patriotic struggle of the Soviet people at the front and in the rear of the enemy, labor heroism, has come to the fore in the press. In central newspapers, these topics had the most significant part of newspaper space, for example, Pravda had from 79 to 82 % in different periods of wartime, Krasnaya Zvezda had from 73 to 79 % [1; 3]. The literature published was ideologically aimed at fulfilling the main task of wartime, i.e. the defeat of fascism. At this stage, women's issues did not become the object of study. In the all-union historical essays, historical and journalistic articles there is a factual material about the participation of women in industrial production, the contribution of women in the development of agriculture, the patriotic movement [2]. Hundreds of researchers have described the mass heroism of Soviet women, their unparalleled dedication. Their goal was to create a generalized image of the Soviet female patriots in the defense of their Homeland, the working-heroines, without showing the contradictions and difficulties of the status of women in this period.

During the years of the Great Patriotic War, about 150 books, brochures and journal articles were published in Kazakhstan [3; 25]. The historiography of Kazakhstan at that stage had the same characteristic features as those of all-union works. The following collections that came out during the war are of certain value: «Kazakhstan in the first year of the Great Patriotic War against the Nazi invaders» (1943), «Letters from the front» (1944), «Heroes of the Soviet Union, people of Kazakhstan» (1945) [4]. They are written on the materials of periodicals and official documents. These publications were predominantly agitational and propagandistic in nature and touched upon only separate items on the contribution of women to the victory over fascism [5].

The second stage works, published in the first post-war decade, were written on a wider documentary basis [6]. These contain the elements of research. In the period of 1946–1955 about 1200 books, brochures and articles were published in various areas of the Great Patriotic War [7]. Candidate's theses on the labor contribution of women to the victory over the enemy appeared, summarizing the regional material of the republics, individual regions and cities of the Soviet Union. Thus, the dissertations of A.F. Shmeleva, Y.A. Davletova, A.D. Zarubina, S.K. Chekneva, V.I. Chetina, Z.F. Ibragimova are devoted to the role of Soviet women in the Great Patriotic War [8].

The post-war decade includes the release of Kazakhstani works on the military mobilization, organizational and educational work of the party among the population, including women. The women's contribution to providing the front with weapons, ammunition, food and uniforms, their patriotic activities to help the front are shown in the fragments, and their participation in the country's armed defense is highlighted. Thus, the historiography of Kazakhstan has been replenished with the studies by G.A. Abishev, O. Malybayev, A.V. Shoshenko, L.E. Fain, A.A. Baidin and others [9]. These show the moral and political image of workers and defenders of the Homeland. The works contain important information about the military patriotic feat of women, their contribution to the fight against the enemy. The few studies of the post-war decade created a peculiar portrait of a wartime woman, i.e. the great toiler and heroine of the rear. At the same time, the military historiography of the post-war decade was characterized by negative features, namely, the narrowness of the documentary base of research, constraint in the interpretation of many problems, varnishing of wartime difficulties, the predominance of event descriptions, limited analytical material and theoretical generalizations. But in all their studies, the authors identified only positive aspects in the activities of women without considering the difficulties, hardships, sufferings and everyday problems that they faced during the war years. No qualitatively new approaches were found in studying the problem of the participation of Soviet women in the Great Patriotic War. Women's issues still did not become the subject of a special study. However, these works, addressed to the widest reader, marked the beginning of the formation of a thematic field of study of the Great Patriotic War and outlined the approach of historians to consider the women's experience of war.

The XX CPSU Congress marked the beginning of the third period in the development of the Great Patriotic War historiography. This period, lasted until 1965, was characterized by the extensive use of archival documents as a basis for research, coverage of historical events from the position of Marxist Leninist methodology, intensification of the struggle of Soviet researchers against the influence of the personality cult, with falsifiers of history [10; 148]. Thus, the historiography of the problem has been enriched by the thesisworks by K.D. Antidze, G.L. Vovchenko, N.P. Zhivotovskaya, A.M. Kurnosova [11], providing an analysis of the labor and patriotic feat of women during the Great Patriotic War. Historians from all regions of the USSR joined to participate in the development of the issue of women's production and social political activities.

Valuable generalizing data of the all-union character on the labor of women in industry during the Patriotic War, along with other materials, are contained in the works by N.A. Voznesensky, B.S. Telpukhovsky, A.V. Mitrofanova, and G.G. Morekhina [12; 7]. The daily life of women, their problems, and the difficulties characteristic of wartime remained beyond the research works.

The works by K. Baiguzhin, M.K. Kozybaev, G.A. Abishev, P.S. Belan, and N.E. Edygenov [13] of the third stage of the Soviet Kazakh historiography are of the greatest interest for our study. These studies contain the fragments of women's participation in the Great Patriotic War. The third chapter «Women of Kazakhstan during the Great Patriotic War» of M. Beisenova's work «What did the Soviet power give to the Kazakh woman» [14] covers the role of women of the republic during the war years, as well as their heroism, tireless work and dedication. Soviet woman is described by the author as an example of stamina and endurance. In 1964 G.D. Nurbekova defended her thesis on the topic: «The Communist Party is the organizer of the labor exploits of women in the industry of Kazakhstan during the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945)» [12]. In connection with the 20th anniversary of the Victory, 8 books, 24 brochures and over 200 scientific articles in journals and republican newspapers were published in Kazakhstan, reflecting the republic's contribution to the defeat of the enemy [7]. Some of these highlighted separate subjects and aspects of the problem under study.

Thus, the problem of women's participation in the Great Patriotic War was not a special object of study in Soviet historiography. The traditional topic of historical publications, devoted to the Great Patriotic War, was massive patriotism at the front and the labor contribution of women. The hard trials and hardships, suffered during the war years, were minimized in these works. At the present stage, there is a need to create a summarizing research, giving a holistic picture of the contribution of women to the great victory.

The article was written as part of a research project under grant № 1992-I-19 «The Great Patriotic War and women of Kazakhstan at the front and rear: women's stories and everyday life».

 

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Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: History