Much historiography focusing on women in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army consists of describing, rediscovering, and celebrating the participation of women in the nationalist underground. This article rejects the celebratory approach to the inclusion of women in the narrative of the nationalist struggle. Instead, it focuses on the ways in which militarization of women was carried out by the nationalists from the 1930s to the 1950s. The article argues that the nationalist leadership was able to militarize a large number of women because no viable alternative to the nationalist state-building project was offered at the time, and because the nationalists propagated a conservative type of femininity that did not threaten traditional gender norms. By exploring the movement’s construction, control, and use of femininity, the article argues that deviations from traditional gender roles occurred only within the limits of, and for the benefit of, nationalist militarization.
Olesya Khromeychuk is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of East Anglia, where she teaches Eastern European history and researches the participation and representation of women in military formations in World War II. She is the author of “Undetermined” Ukrainians Post-War Narratives of the Waffen SS “Galicia” Division (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org