Militarizing Women in the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement from the 1930s to the 1950s

in Aspasia


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.

Analyzing the participation of women in the Ukrainian nationalist movement from the 1930s to the 1950s—represented in this article by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Orhanizatsiia Ukrains’kykh Natsionalistiv, OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiia, UPA)—is not an easy task.1 There is no reliable estimate of how many women were involved in the nationalist organizations, in part because of their clandestine nature and in part because the estimate would depend on who is to be included: all those who supported the nationalist cause regardless of the degree of their involvement, or only those who were formally accepted as members of one of the organizations (and even here much of the data is missing).2 It is difficult to create a general portrait of a female nationalist insurgent, because the available information on the women’s age, social background, and other characteristics is fragmented and any generalization would likely result in oversimplification. This topic is reluctantly discussed by the participants of the movement themselves and is often neglected by war and nationalism scholars. The situation is exacerbated by the controversial nature of the nationalist movement: the OUN employed terrorist methods, segments of the organization closely cooperated with the Nazis, units of the UPA were involved in the perpetration of ethnic cleansing (as in the case of the Volhynia massacre), and the nationalists have also been accused of aiding the implementation of the Shoah.3 Nevertheless, there are many attempts to present the knowledge and the memory of nationalist organizations in a heroic light—some by scholars, others by politically motivated groups—and any criticism of the movement (including a gender-sensitive one) is not welcomed in this context.4 The work that has been done to write women into the history of the movement is usually of a celebratory nature.

The voices that speak about the nationalist movement, whether those of participants or of historians, are mostly male. Commenting on a similar situation in the context of female veterans of the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army, AK), Weronika Grzebalska notes that although “works initiated and published in the circles of former female [AK] soldiers undoubtedly contributed to the commemoration of ‘outstanding Polish women’ … they enjoy the status of a ‘colorful addition’ to the ‘official’ historiography.”5 Ukrainian “colorful additions” about women’s experiences in the nationalist movement also exist on the margins of historiography and pose no challenge to popular narratives or the official interpretation of 1930s–1950s nationalism.6 Indeed, accounts of women’s participation in the nationalist underground movement serve, as will be demonstrated below, to reinforce a masculinist narrative of the nationalist movement, even as, or precisely because, they underline and celebrate women’s participation in that male-driven struggle. This article seeks to avoid the path of rediscovering and/or celebrating women’s activities in the nationalist movement, and instead proposes to examine the mechanisms by which women were incorporated into nationalist paramilitary structures and what the implications of these processes were for women.

The incorporation of women into military or paramilitary institutions that are set up to achieve the creation of a nation-state, as Nira Yuval-Davis points out, can be used to signify that “women, at least symbolically, are equal members of the national collectivity … [and] that all members of the national collectivity are incorporated, at least symbolically, into the military.”7 Most historical accounts treat women’s participation in the Ukrainian nationalist movement as showing that even women joined the nationalist cause, and present them as forgotten martyrs and heroines. The very title of Volodymyr Ivanchenko’s work that looks at the life of Liudmyla Foia, a double agent recruited by the OUN and the NKVD, is telling: A Flower in a Red Hell (Kvitka u chervonomu pekli).8 The title implies that the woman is like a flower, removed from its natural environment and placed in the hell of the fight against the Soviet regime. In a similar vein, Tetiana Antonova offers an overview of the various roles women played in the underground, stressing that the participation of women in the nationalist insurgency was not limited to medical or administrative roles but also included participation in combat. Nevertheless, she sets her analysis firmly in the myth that “nature bestowed upon women the function of motherhood, however in war a woman brings death.”9 Similarly to Antonova, there are other scholars who treat women’s presence in the context of war as extraordinary or even unnatural, and worthy of attention for that reason.10

The exceptional nature of women’s participation in the nationalist movement is also emphasized in memoirs by participants. They frequently offer a substantial amount of detail about women’s involvement in the OUN and UPA, but their narratives are constructed primarily to defend the nationalist aims. In her autobiography, Maria Savchyn, an OUN member, admits that “when I started writing [a memoir], I faced a dilemma—how to separate my personal life from the history of our struggle.”11 In the end, she does not separate the two. Her personal story is completely entangled with the history of the nationalist organization to which she belonged: her intimate life, her tragic motherhood, and her career as an insurgent are told through the prism of nationalist activity. While she does not shy away from criticizing certain aspects of life as a female insurgent (i.e., being expected to always follow her husband or losing her children because of her involvement with the nationalists), she does not question the movement or its ideology as a whole. Many other memoirs contain even less analysis of gender dynamics in nationalist circles.12

Another strand of historiography is represented by works that do not say that women’s participation was exceptional because it was unnatural, but instead aim to prove women’s bravery and capability of being as good as the men. These works also lack a critical approach to assessing the OUN’s and UPA’s actions and ideology. Lesia Onyshko has focused much of her research on women in the nationalist movement, in particular the better known among them, such as Kateryna Zaryts’ka (the leader of the women’s network of the OUN) and Halyna Dydyk (a liaison for the commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army). Onyshko’s opening sentence in an article discussing the role of Dydyk in the nationalist underground reveals the author’s celebratory approach to the movement. She states, “Ukrainian patriots fought for an independent Ukrainian state for centuries; that state is soaked in the blood of our forefathers.” She then claims that “the public is not sufficiently informed about the contribution and achievements of individual Ukrainians in the realization of this great goal.” According to Onyshko, Dydyk, who, “having become an active member of the OUN and UPA, sacrificed her own life on the altar of the service to Fatherland,”13 deserves to be remembered as a heroine of the movement. Onyshko’s approach, therefore, is to write women nationalists into the nationalist narrative, but in a way that does not challenge this narrative and does not analyze it critically. Olena Pustomitenko, explaining her rationale for studying the role of women in the OUN, sounds a similar note, stating that “Ukrainians have walked a long and thorny path to create their independent state, and that is why they need to remember those who fought for the freedom of our country.”14 Larysa Zariczniak, who has written on women’s motivations for joining the nationalist movement and the importance of kinship ties for underground insurgency, emphasizes that female members’ “specific roles within the insurgency were distinct but no less important.”15 The work of these and other scholars who focus on nationalist women provides useful details for understanding women’s roles and experiences within the nationalist movement, raising important questions about gender dynamics, yet the prioritization of an uncritical and indeed often celebratory attitude toward nationalist ideology precludes any deeper reflection on these.16

Oksana Kis, one of the most prominent contemporary scholars on the topic, approaches the OUN and UPA with more caution than the authors discussed above.17 Her critique, however, is mostly directed at the patriarchal structures of the maledominated nationalist organizations, rather than at the ideology and activities of the Ukrainian nationalists as such. Kis criticizes the leadership of the OUN and the UPA for not using “the intellectual potential of women” to the fullest.18 She states that “not infrequently girls served as bodyguards of OUN and the UPA leaders; some became parachute jumpers; some participated in UPA military operation on par with men,” thereby demonstrating not only that women were able to fulfill the tasks set for them by the nationalist leadership, but that some of them even “transgressed the established gender scripts” by cultivating traits that “were hardly considered to be typical of women.”19 Kis sees the lack of public attention to women’s participation in the nationalist movement as unfair. She argues that “official commemorative practices of the UPA are not gender balanced” and that “among the monuments, street names and other memorial sites established in Western Ukraine since 1991 to honour OUN and UPA history” there is no lieu de mémoire “celebrating women fighters.”20 This position, therefore, welcomes the celebration of the nationalist movement as such and criticizes only the absence of female heroines among the males who are hailed as heroes.21

The main strands of historiography outlined above raise the valid point that women’s active involvement in the nationalist movement is beyond doubt, and that their absence in historiography and memorial sites is thus unjustified. However, this approach of celebrating and rehabilitating women’s participation in the nationalist movement does not problematize the involvement of women in it. Nicole Ann Dombrowski states that “celebrationist histories of women’s arrival into the armed forces neglect the fundamental problem that militaries are institutions predicated on violence.”22 Although the OUN and the UPA were paramilitary organizations rather than state-sanctioned armies, both groups adopted violent militaristic means in their statebuilding efforts. Even if celebratory approaches examine the patriarchal structure of the nationalist organizations critically, they often perpetuate the narratives of the glorification of the violent nationalist struggle—a struggle that, in reality, involved many inglorious episodes. Lamenting women’s absence from mnemonic sites and calling for the celebration of women’s participation in the nationalist movement carries the danger of simply replicating the widespread practice of heroization of the male nationalists by spreading it to women, without scrutinizing the wider meaning of women’s contribution to the nationalist movement, including their complicity in violence.

It is important here to underline one supposition that this article follows throughout its argument: women are not inherently predisposed to protect life, nor are men to kill. As Yuval-Davis argues, “When women’s positioning is not different in power terms to that of men, their behaviour is not necessarily different to men’s.”23 This article does not aim to emphasize that many women were engaged in duties that went outside of the restricted “feminine sphere.” Most wars see women take on roles conventionally recognized as masculine, and the Ukrainian nationalist movement was no exception, especially given that it waged a guerrilla war highly dependent on support from the civilian population, which consisted largely of women, children, and the elderly of both genders. Joshua S. Goldstein argues that “any explanation of gendered war roles that rests on women’s categorical lack of ability to perform in combat must be discarded, given the historical record.”24 Continually emphasizing the supposedly exceptional nature of women’s participation in violent conflicts runs the risk of accepting this “lack of ability” as a general rule. Similarly, this article does not aim to show that tasks such as nursing wounded soldiers, cooking for the military men, or working as typists—all recognized as traditionally feminine tasks—were just as crucial for the movement as executing the enemy, planting bombs, or dying in battle. The fact that warfare does not consist solely of violent and, consequently, traditionally masculine tasks should be self-evident.

Focusing on the ways in which women became involved in the nationalist movement, this article assesses how the OUN and later the UPA, in their pursuit of the support of local Ukrainians, blurred the boundary between civilians and the military by militarizing the population, especially women. Using Cynthia Enloe’s interpretation of militarization as a “step-by-step process by which something becomes controlled by, dependent on, or derives its value from the military as an institution or militaristic criteria,”25 I explore how the nationalists managed to achieve the mass militarization of women from the 1930s to the 1950s and argue that women were militarized not in spite of their femininity (understood in its traditional sense), but through it. Enloe states that “militarization may privilege masculinity, but it does so by manipulating the meaning of both femininity and masculinity.”26 I will argue that the Ukrainian nationalists succeeded in engaging a great number of women because they used conventional gender norms to their advantage: they popularized a traditional type of ideal woman, which emphasized women’s domesticity and nurturing qualities precisely in order to appeal to their conservative and largely rural support base.

The focus on the nationalists’ use of traditional femininity is not new in itself. Oksana Kis has examined it and argued that “the mass engagement of girls and women in the nationalist underground allowed Ukrainian women to broaden and negotiate a centuries-old notion of normative femininity, and to transgress traditional gender scripts, contesting and undermining some of its most fundamental principles.”27 In contrast, however, I argue that an ability to perform normative or traditional femininity was an essential requirement for women who joined the nationalists, and any transgression or contestation of gendered behavior occurred within the frames of militarization and for the benefit of the movement. If any individual emancipation took place in the process, it was a by-product of nationalist militarization and was temporary. Enloe argues that military leadership and militarized civilian elites depend “on the very notion of femininity in all its myriad guises” and therefore strive to regulate it.28 Not only did the Ukrainian nationalist leadership rely on the shaping of traditional femininity, but it also controlled its performance. Once in the movement, Ukrainian women were expected to forgo conventional feminine virtues—whether by adopting conventional masculine roles or by deviating from conservative sexual norms—only if this was of benefit to the nationalist cause.

In pursuing this line of analysis, I draw on a strand of the existing historiography that I have not yet discussed, represented by studies conducted by Olena Petrenko, Marta Havryshko, and Jeffrey Burds.29 These works do not romanticize the nationalist movement and focus on the neglected aspects of gender dynamics of the underground, such as sexual violence or instrumentalized use of sexuality. My article also makes use of wider examinations of Ukrainian women’s movements in the relevant period, especially that by Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak.30 In addition, I refer to the published memoirs of former OUN and/or UPA members. As far as primary sources are concerned, my conclusions are informed by interviews that I conducted with former OUN and UPA female members between 2011 and 2016, and archival sources, in particular those held by the Ukrainian State Security Archive.31 In order to fully understand the process of militarization of women by the nationalists, I will assess the legacy of World War I and the context of the interwar years, focusing, on the one hand, on the popularization of feminist ideas among Ukrainian women and, on the other, on the ways in which the nationalists constructed femininity and used it to their advantage, as well as the implications this had for the women who joined the movement.


Wars happen not only on the front line but also in the communities affected, argues Chris Coulter, but “the idea of a front line around which war is enacted persists, and this is to some extent apparent in the overly generalized and stereotypical way in which men and women in war are often portrayed.”32 Because of its clandestine nature, the Ukrainian nationalist struggle took place in the communities at least as much as on the battlefield. As Serhiy Kudelia points out, the UPA “depended on a cooperative bargain with the local civilian population since it practically lacked independent access to resources and funds.”33 One of the OUN members, Daria Poliuha, said that “the UPA was a people’s army, because the people clothed it, fed it, and joined its ranks.”34 Insurgents’ bunkers were sometimes located in villagers’ houses or gardens, and nationalists hiding in the forests were highly dependent on the civilian village population for food supplies and other procurements.35 Nevertheless, traditional perceptions of masculinity as connected to the front line and femininity as associated with the home front endured, and the masculinity of an insurgent was just as romanticized as that of a regular frontline soldier. Romantic appeal alone, however, would not have supplied sufficient human resources for the movement. Enloe warns us against assuming that “all men, at all times, naturally want to soldier. They don’t! Many men may be loath to admit that they want to avoid soldiering.”36 She explains that “if maleness, masculinity, and militarism were inevitably bound together, militaries would always have the soldiers they believed they required.”37 The fact that many states have conscription for men or introduce mobilization in times of war suggests that the simple association of masculinity with the military is not enough to encourage men to join the armed forces. While state-run militaries can benefit from legally enforced conscription of men, paramilitary organizations cannot use coercion to the same degree and must be more imaginative in their recruitment practices. Another crucial problem is that, as clandestine operations, irregular military formations cannot rely solely on men, since young males are most likely to be suspected of insurgency. For these reasons, the militarization of women is vital for guerrilla movements such as the OUN and UPA.

It is important to note that direct militarization—that is, actual membership of a paramilitary organization—is only one part of the spectrum of militarization. While the OUN and UPA undoubtedly benefited from the direct involvement of women in a variety of capacities as full members of the organizations, the relative success and longevity of the movement was ensured by militarization of women as occasional participants who were able to maintain an unmilitarized appearance. The wider militarization spread in various forms, the more people were likely to be involved in political violence, both as perpetrators and as victims (and sometimes as both). There was a great range of militarized women. Some of them were recruited as active members and were militarized willingly by wholeheartedly subscribing to the values derived from the nationalist movement.38 Others were militarized unwittingly by finding themselves in the position of a mother, daughter, sister, or partner of a military man (with varying degree of involvement in the movement’s activities).39 Others still, such as villagers who might not have embraced the movement’s ideology but whose support was logistically vital, were militarized under duress.40

Attention to the practice of militarization is significant because its penetration into the civilian sphere is not always apparent. To put it in Enloe’s words, “militarization does not occur simply in the obvious places but can transform the meanings and uses of people, things, and ideas located far from bombs or camouflaged fatigues.” Enloe argues that “militarization does not just happen: it requires decisions, many decisions, decisions made by both civilians and people in uniform.” It is also important to remember that “militarizing decision makers are not just machines of logic and interest. They can be afflicted with confusion and ambivalence; they often do not reap the results intended.”41 This is certainly true in the Ukrainian case, in which the impact of women’s militarization by the nationalist movement was manifold and sometimes paradoxical: without the broad support of the population (and women in particular) the movement might have been defeated sooner, yet it was this support that turned entire families, villages, and even regions into suspect nationalists targeted by the authorities.42 “Militarizing can be a process fraught with contradiction,” argues Enloe.43 Studying how the militarizing forces constructed and used gender identities helps to understand these contradictions.

The Legacy of World War I Militarization

The militarization of Ukrainian women did not start in the run-up to World War II. The events of World War I, and the roles available to women in this context, undoubtedly influenced the choices women made in the interwar period. As Dombrowski argues, “the First World War marked women’s definitive entry into the war machine. … [It] demonstrated that blind patriotism seduced women as well as men.”44 Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak outlines the position in which Ukrainian women found themselves at that time by citing a sketch written in February 1917 by Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, a modernist feminist writer, who “divided war-torn humanity not into warring countries, but into ‘the island of the men’ and the ‘island of the women, children, and geriatrics.’ The men fought for their ideals while the women tried to feed the children, till the land, and save life itself.”45 While that may be an accurate description of the division of roles during World War I, it does not mean that women’s civilian roles of feeding the children, tilling the land, and saving life removed them from the general war effort. Performing tasks conventionally viewed as feminine while the men were fighting at the front was vital for the organization of a war system, what Goldstein calls “the interrelated ways that societies organize themselves to participate in potential and actual wars.”46 He argues that “masculine war roles depend on feminine roles in the war system, including mothers, wives and sweethearts.”47 Indeed, for Ukrainians in World War I, staying away from the front did not mean avoiding militarization. For most women, this distance was in fact the integral part of their militarization: the military still had the power to control, subordinate, and dictate war values to the segment of the population that was not directly engaged in political violence but whose role was to support this violence from their domestic positions.

Some Ukrainian women living in the collapsing Austro-Hungarian Empire did, however, gain direct military experience during World War I. Formed in August 1914, the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Sharpshooters (Ukrains’ki Sichovi Stril’tsi), a unit within the Austro-Hungarian Army, included female members.48 Despite this inclusion of female fighters, however, “the attitudes of Western Ukrainian men towards women ‘in the momentous struggle’ of the war and liberation were frequently contradictory,” states Bohachevsky-Chomiak. “On the one hand, in song, literature and rhetoric, they gloried in the women who had joined the army and fought for a free Ukraine. On the other, they were as reluctant to accept the participation of women in public affairs as they had been before the war.”49 Letting women gain membership in institutions reserved for the expression of manliness carried the threat of “feminization” of such institutions. This would disturb the established gender subordination, because, as Laura Sjoberg argues, to “feminise something or someone is to directly subordinate that person, political entity, or idea, because values perceived as feminine are lower on the social hierarchy than values perceived as neutral or masculine.”50 women’s active involvement in the army, therefore, was only beneficial for their symbolic inclusion into the state-building myth “in song, literature and rhetoric.”51 In reality, little actual power or authority was transferred to women, and their contribution to the war effort was expected via traditionally feminine channels: cooking, collecting food, and caring for the wounded. Whichever role they assumed, these women took an active part in the struggle for a sovereign Ukrainian state.52 This experience was important for Ukrainian women in the run-up to World War II.

Post-World War I Feminism

Dombrowski argues that “regardless of the service of individual women during times of war, whether serving in combat units, smuggling weapons, working in munitions factories, nursing wounded soldiers, or simply keeping the hearth warm, women as a group have not always received the rewards promised for their support and enthusiasm.”53 For Ukrainians now living in the Second Polish Republic, the brief euphoria of independence was followed by the realization of subsequent defeat, which was manifold for women. Bohachevsky-Chomiak explains that “women experienced not only the defeat of the Ukrainian cause, but also discrimination from their own colleagues. They were forced to confront the issues of sexual inequality. … The treatment of Ukrainian women by their own colleagues led them to study the fate of women’s equality in other parts of Europe.”54 After World War I, there were some changes in the treatment of women. For instance, the Polish state granted women the right to vote and be elected in 1918. This enabled some women to formally participate in the political life of the country, but it did not solve the problem of mass gender discrimination. One woman who played a crucial role in the Ukrainian women’s movement in Poland was writer and activist Milena Rudnyts’ka, who became an executive member of the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (Ukrains’ke natsional’no-demokratychne ob’iednannia, UNDO) and a member of the Polish Sejm (parliament).55 She enthusiastically supported the short-lived independent Ukrainian state, but, as Tatiana Zhurzhenko argues, “was not satisfied with the inferior role assigned to women within the national liberation movement.”56 Rather than looking to military or paramilitary organizations, Rudnyts’ka “saw feminism as a means of mobilizing women en masse, and involving them in practical political work on behalf of the future Ukrainian nation.”57 She headed the Union of Ukrainian Women (Soiuz Ukrainok), an influential mass women’s organization in eastern Galicia, from 1928 until 1939. Myroslav Shkandrij states that the Union of Ukrainian Women “affected all spheres of life, and worked to transform society by overturning patriarchal models of behaviour.”58

In 1929, in her speech at the General Meeting of the Union of Ukrainian Women, Rudnyts’ka stated that a modern woman “lives her own life, and not simply as an addition to the life of a man, not just to ensure that he has a good life. … A modern woman has her own, direct relation to humankind as a human being, and not only due to her reproductive function.” At the same time, Rudnyts’ka’s version of feminism emphasized “women’s constructive rather than subversive roles within the traditional institutions of family, church and community.”59 She stressed that feminism was compatible with nation building.60 Zhurzhenko argues that this combination of feminism and nationalism was specific to the territories in which Ukrainians constituted a majority because of the delayed processes of nation building; in the Ukrainian case, in contrast with Western Europe, where nation building had occurred much earlier, “the tasks of women’s emancipation and gender equality were subordinated to the aims of the fight for the national emancipation.”61 Olena Petrenko argues that Rudnyts’ka “tried to present feminist views as a good and useful template for the creation of a nation.”62 According to Zhurzhenko, Rudnyts’ka argued that “the struggle for equality was only the beginning; the new aim was to make women aware of their equal responsibility for the future of the nation.”63 Rudnyts’ka was thus presenting a potential alternative to the militarized approach to nation building that was supported by the nationalists.

From Feminist Ideas of Nation Building to Nationalist Ideas of Femininity

In the same year that Rudnyts’ka delivered her speech on the rights of women, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists was established. It was created from a number of underground student groups and the Ukrainian Military Organization (Ukrains’ka Viis’kova Orhanizatsiia, UVO), “which challenged Polish rule by conducting acts of sabotage, burning property belonging to Polish landowners and colonists, and conducting expropriations (notably bank robberies) and political assassinations.”64 The OUN was supported by the generation that felt the need to revive the struggle for Ukraine’s independence not only out of duty to their ancestors, who had failed to secure Ukraine’s statehood in the aftermath of World War I, but also because of their own experiences under the new Polish state. Ukrainians in interwar Poland lacked basic rights: their access to higher education was restricted, schooling in Ukrainian was constrained, and they had few economic opportunities. Both men and women suffered from the Polish interwar government’s discriminatory policies toward national minorities.65 Bohachevsky-Chomiak explains that the “young women underwent a process of socialization similar to that of the young men: Polonization of schools, the abuses and police harassments, and the indignity of compulsory attendance at government-sponsored Polish patriotic celebrations. … They were easily angered by national discrimination, but no longer by sexual discrimination.”66 The Union of Ukrainian Women and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists both addressed the burning issue of the right to national self-determination. Rudnyts’ka believed in making the voice of Ukrainians in interwar Poland heard through political participation, but the OUN believed in the power of political violence. Unlike the feminists, who thought women’s emancipation was vital for the Ukrainian nation-building project, the nationalists intended to return women to the domestic hearth. This intention did not exclude women from the nation-building project and subsequent militarization; rather, it relegated them to the place from which their contribution would, in the nationalists’ view, be most useful.

During the interwar period, support among the Ukrainian population in Poland for radical action grew, particularly among the younger generation.67 The OUN relied on this support and viewed the Union of Ukrainian Women as potential competitors for young cadres. Shkandrij argues that “such a large, influential organization presented a challenge to the OUN. The latter’s ideologists felt discomfort with international feminism and with Rudnytska in particular. Not only was she able to garner enormous Western publicity, but her newspaper Zhinka [Woman] challenged the OUN’s glorification of machismo and its hierarchical view of gender roles.”68 The OUN criticized the feminists for being preoccupied with their own needs at the expense of the nation.69 Daria Rebet, one of the most prominent OUN members and the only female who was part of the provid (leadership) of the OUN, criticized feminism in a publication discussing the social role of women:

By viewing the individual [odynytsiu] as an absolute value and aim in itself, feminism has engaged itself in a battle with its own society for absolute equality, for the position of women and for their rights to unlimited freedom. … [Here] the basic laws of human existence are neglected, where an individual [odynytsia] woven into social relations is only a small cog that cannot exist independently and separately, and naturally must be subordinated to its organically superior society—the nation. This is what feminism wants to defy.70

Criticism of feminism and the desire to fight for national self-determination drove some nationalistically inclined women who might have been attracted by the work of the Union of Ukrainian Women to offer their support to the OUN instead.71

Faced with competition from the radical nationalist OUN, the feminists fought back, particularly focusing their criticism on what they saw as the negative influence of ideas coming from radical right-wing movements in Europe, especially the Nazi Third Reich, on the Ukrainian nationalists. In her assessment of the critique of the Third Reich’s treatment of women by the Ukrainian feminists in Galicia, Marta Havryshko states that between 1933 and 1939, many articles by Ukrainian authors of different ideological persuasions “criticized the restriction of the ‘woman’s sphere’ in Germany to the family life and the ‘three Ks’ (Kinder, Kirche, Kuche—children, church, kitchen).” Havryshko argues that “the emancipatory movement of the time stopped seeing a housewife as the ideal for women; this place was taken up by a politically conscious woman, dedicated to community work.”72 Galician feminists criticized the policies adopted by the Third Reich as hypocritical. On the one hand, women were squeezed out of all industries and engaged mostly in domestic work, and on the other hand, the German militarized economy required significant human resources, which would have been impossible to supply without the employment of women, who were, nevertheless, paid less than their male colleagues.73 Rudnyts’ka was particularly concerned that Ukrainian nationalists were keen to follow such right-wing policies, and in her 1937 article, “Consolidation, Totalitarianism, and the Womenfolk,” she warned that “all totalitarian, exclusionary movements, which do not want to tolerate ideas other than their own, which insist that their idea can save the world, that only it has the right to exist, are most dangerous, for they hide within themselves the embryos of civil war.”74 She explicitly criticized Ukrainian nationalists: “It is important to note that although the various Ukrainian nationalist groups have terrible quarrels with one another, they find remarkable agreement when it comes to the understanding of the tasks of women. They all wish to push the Ukrainian woman towards the role that has been assigned to her by totalitarian dictatorial states.”75 Rudnyts’ka tried to resist the marginalization of women in the public sphere, arguing that the fascist and Nazi understanding of the role of women within the state, which was embraced by the Ukrainian nationalists, contradicted the historical tradition and the nature of the Ukrainian people as a whole and was unacceptable to Ukrainian women.76

The OUN also appealed to the historical traditions of the Ukrainian people when addressing Ukrainian women. The nationalists argued that, traditionally, Ukrainian women have always been held in high regard, and any repression that they might have experienced was the result not of patriarchal society but of a repressive (nonUkrainian) state.77 In her publication on the social role of women, Daria Rebet gave examples of historical figures who could serve as role models for her contemporaries. First, she referred to Princess Ol’ha of Kyivan Rus’, praising her as an example of a “faithful wife, who, having followed the custom of avenging her husband’s death, bravely takes his place and continues the deed started by him.” According to Rebet, Princess Ol’ha could also serve as an example of “a high-caliber ruler,” but the qualities that she stressed were those of a wife and an “exemplary mother.” Rebet also referred to the role of women in the Cossack polity. Here too motherhood and wifehood were underlined as primary roles, while independent activity was only mentioned as a necessity in troubled times: “The Cossack era also gives us a strong type of a Cossack woman, who nurtures daring zealots with [Cossack] forelocks, who independently manages the family and the household in turbulent times, and who lives with immediate readiness to bravely stand next to her man when faced with danger.”78 Many women who joined the nationalists supported this view. Ol’ha Il’kiv, a prominent OUN member and a liaison of the UPA commander, Roman Shukhevych, echoed the OUN’s words on the historical role of women: “We did not need to raise feminist questions because traditionally in Ukraine the position of women was exceptional; a Cossack woman held three corners of the household and the Cossack only one, because he was always away fighting and she had to look after the children, the household, and engage in politics instead of him. … Ukrainian woman has a natural feminism.”79 In many ways, the nationalists’ image of an ideal Ukrainian woman was formed in response to ideas formulated by the feminists. A publication of the OUN’s women’s division stated: “We want a woman who will understand her task and calling not as that of a feminist activist, who seeks ways to ease her life and relieve herself of responsibilities or to fulfill her pseudo-ambitions, but as a woman, who is conscious of her natural duties, who is ready to fulfill these obligations and to actively take part in the struggle which is fought by her nation for its existence and growth.”80 The publication explained how women should fight for their rights, juxtaposing the feminist calls to political representation with the nationalist call to battle: “The woman has proved that she does not need to fight for her feminist rights from the congress and assembly platforms, from podia, demonstrations and rallies, from the pages of journals and books; she has proved that her rights are achieved in the struggle on the battlefield, not with words, but with deeds, and that is where she should look for the fulfillment of her mission.”81 Here we see the paradoxical nature of women’s involvement in the militarized nationalist movement: the nationalists propagated a specific type of femininity based on traditional feminine values, centered in the home, but at the same time added patriotism and active support for violent, militant nationalism. In this way, the OUN militarized its women supporters precisely through underlining traditional female attachment to home and family.

A further example of this militarization via femininity can be found in the writing of one of the nationalist ideologues, Iurii Lypa. In an article entitled “The Ukrainian Woman,” he argued that “Ukrainian women, like few other women in Europe, were connected with war, and with heroic militarism. … There were, are, and will be many Ukrainian women, who defend the honor and glory of Ukraine with sword and fire. We honor them for this!”82 Lypa then went on to explain his position further: “And yet when we ask ourselves whether that is the calling of the Ukrainian woman, we will say—no! They can replace their brothers, who fall, who find themselves in difficult circumstances; they can die nobly in the furious whirlwind of battle as victims, or as fighters; however, the first to take up arms should be a man, not a woman. It is their task, and not a woman’s.”83

The nationalist discourse placed the stress on the duties of women as mothers.84 The OUN’s propaganda emphasized that they wanted “a woman who will not lament or cry for her children, but, on the contrary, will send them out to the battlefield saying: come back with your shield—or on it; and who will be proud if her son falls on the field of glory.”85 Lypa stated that “a mother is not a warrior or a lover. She possesses a greater spiritual stability than either of these.”86 Ukrainian feminists did not in fact object to stressing the importance of motherhood, but they insisted that “good mothering went beyond the confines of the home and mere domesticity.”87 The nationalists disagreed: “The democratic-liberal demagogues can raise alarm against the new oppression of women, warn against her reimprisonment within four walls busy with her children and the kitchen; [but] the healthy instinct to protect and nurture the nation will not be caught on their bait.”88 The nationalists drew on the experience of the growing radicalization of Italy and Germany in the 1930s, arguing that “throughout Europe today there is a dominant call: the woman is the educator of children.” The main task for women was “the upbringing of the new generation, a physically, spiritually, and morally healthy generation.”89

Another member of the OUN who tried to develop an ideal type of a Ukrainian woman was the poet and essayist Olena Teliha.90 She was a critic of feminism, believing that it encouraged women to forsake their families and that it could lead to the physical extinction of the nation, and referring to feminists pejoratively as “amazons.” She claimed there was a lack of a popular Ukrainian role model for a woman. In one of her best-known texts, “Iakymy nas prahnete?” (How do you desire us?), she argued that there are only three literary types of women that (male) writers construct—a slave, a vamp, and a friend—none of which satisfied Teliha. Her view of a new Ukrainian woman was of someone who possessed courage, endurance, and fighting spirit, as well as the desire to become traditionally feminine once again “as soon as the necessity of a battle has passed.” This emphasis on traditional femininity and temporary direct militarization was in line with the nationalist propaganda. Teliha concluded “Iakymy nas prahnete?” by arguing that a male writer was the one who formed “the spiritual face of society,” and it was therefore a task for Ukrainian men to decide what sort of Ukrainian women they desired, because “a woman in every nation is that, which the man desires her to be.”91

The visions of the Ukrainian woman as imagined by Rudnyts’ka and Teliha are not dissimilar, despite the fact that one argued for feminism and the other against it. Shkandrij analyzes both women’s views:

In the debate that took place between the Union of Ukrainian Women and Teliha, it is clear that the two sides shared similar aims and treated each other with great respect. The Union welcomed Teliha’s entry into the discussion, called her an intelligent opponent and accomplished writer, but rejected her claim that liberalism or the Union of Ukrainian Women was responsible for Ukraine’s political woes. On the contrary, the women’s movement saw itself as part of the overall dynamic that was leading to national and personal liberation.92

Rudnyts’ka wanted the Union of Ukrainian Women to be above party politics, inviting women of different political persuasions, including members of the OUN. She saw no contradiction in encouraging Ukrainian women to stand by their nation’s aspirations to self-determination and to fight for gender equality at the same time; it was perhaps for this reason that she had less success than the nationalists in winning the support of women as the war approached. Goldstein argues that “in understanding war roles, the potential for war matters more than the outbreak of particular wars.”93 The nationalists criticized the feminists for perceiving the war only as “‘inhumane suffering,’ uncultured cruelty, unnecessary waste of sacrifice,”94 rather than the inevitable and honorable price for sovereignty. Women joining the nationalist movement “tended to see feminism as narrow feminine egotism” and thus saw “no point in women’s organizations.”95 Bohachevsky-Chomiak argues that “young women who might have become the most ardent feminists became ardent nationalists instead.”96 The fact that Rudnyts’ka criticized only the methods used by the nationalists rather than the very idea of national emancipation as the ultimate goal, above individual liberation, meant that, toward the late 1930s, the feminist approach to state building was decidedly losing to the militarized nationalism propagated by the OUN.

Militarization of Female Insurgents and Women “Sympathizers”

In her work on female participation in the Ukrainian nationalist underground, Petrenko makes an important distinction between women who joined the movement throughout the 1930s and those who were recruited after the outbreak of World War II.97 Women of the “first wave” came from the relatively privileged background of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. They were “characterized by a certain overriding priority of the national goals over the interests of gender,” and their participation was “marked with conscious sacrifice for the political goals.”98 As the war progressed, especially after the start of the German-Soviet war, there was a “second wave” of recruitment of female nationalists. The early 1940s saw the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which soon grew into a relatively well-armed military organization.99 The specific nature of the organization was both the key to its success and its biggest problem: based mostly in remote locations, usually forests, its fighters were out of reach of the enemy, but they were also isolated from more populated areas, which posed serious challenges for provisions and communication. The solution to this problem was the recruitment of “sympathizers of the OUN,” many of whom were women. They brought food, clothes, news from the neighboring villages and towns, and medical supplies, and they often provided medical care. While most of the male insurgents were in the forest and wanted by the authorities, female members of the OUN and women “sympathizers” often enjoyed “legal status,” secured by relatively stable employment and convincing (if frequently fabricated) identification documents.100 Their nonmilitary status and appearance was thus vital for their militarization.

Ol’ha Il’kiv, mentioned earlier, was targeted by the nationalists precisely because, looking after a young child and living with her own mother, she was able to create the impression of a legal and nonmilitary lifestyle. This allowed her to create a safe house for Shukhevych. Her motherhood was used instrumentally for the nationalist cause. However, when she fell pregnant for the second time after visiting her husband, a nationalist insurgent who was in hiding in the forest, the entire operation was threatened. A woman who got pregnant without a husband could be immediately assumed to have had an intimate connection with a nationalist insurgent and attract the interest of the authorities. The nationalist leadership solved this problem: another member of the OUN, Liubomyr Poliuha, posed as her husband.101 Il’kiv was given fabricated documents in another name.102 She recalled her life in this semilegal position: “Men went with weapons and fought in forests. There were special KGB agents trained to destroy us. They knew no mercy. The men had to hide in the bunkers. The conditions were difficult there. And the womenfolk stayed above ground and pretended to be part of the peasantry.”103 Il’kiv understood the trials that her participation in the movement involved, but she insisted that those very trials encouraged her to keep fighting for the national project that she supported: “I had blind faith. I am one of those people who the more danger they are in the more stubborn they get.”104

While many women like Il’kiv were ruled by their ideological support for the nationalists, some were militarized because they were helping their loved ones or family members to survive in the hard conditions of guerrilla warfare. In 1947, mother and daughter Stepanyda and Kateryna Bei were both charged by the Soviets with aiding the enemy—the OUN comrades of their son/brother, Vasyl. The crimes described in the Soviet Ministry of State Security documents include baking bread for the men, washing their clothes, and buying bandages and medication.105 Such stories of family members militarized by the OUN and therefore treated by the authorities as accomplices in the underground or potential bait were not infrequent.106

Similar to family ties, romantic involvement also encouraged women to join the nationalist movement. Maria Savchyn was attracted to the movement not only because of its ideology and her desire to contribute to the national project. Meeting her first love, Sofron, who was already involved in the nationalist movement, also served as an incentive to join the OUN.107 Kis argues that intimate connections inspired exceptional dedication in women to their men and the movement, and stimulated their ingenuity in difficult situations: “It added resilience and patience to endure everyday challenges of the double lives they led and the tortures in case of arrest; it encouraged them to perform risky and heroic actions.”108 While that might be the case, it is also true that romantic involvement was used instrumentally by the OUN and UPA, and in this context women too were perceived as inferior parties.109 Women’s bodies had important symbolic value within the context of the nationalist ideology. In her assessment of intimate relationships in the nationalist underground, Marta Havryshko argues that “the female body was seen as a social body and was involved in the power struggle between the OUN and their opponents. The loss of control over the body was seen as losing the battle. Control was in the hands of the men as defenders of the nation and representatives of power in terms of the patriarchal-gender order.”110 Havryshko argues that semisecret sexual relations were prevalent in the underground. The majority of the OUN and UPA members were young, eighteen to twenty-eight years old, and “the high probability of arrest and death that prompted them to ‘live life to the fullest’” stimulated these “unofficial sexual relations.” She states that the power structures of the underground movement affected heterosexual relationships within it. If discovered, the punishment for the couple depended on the man’s position in the movement’s hierarchy: “If he was in a high position, then the accused could manage to escape responsibility.”111 In this context, the women were completely subordinated to the men. The patriarchal order of the movement and nationalist ideology also meant that women who joined the movement could become victims of sexual violence and harassment perpetrated not only by their enemy but also by their fellow nationalists. Havryshko argues that sometimes the power structure of the underground facilitated the punishment not of the guilty party but of the victim.112 Thus, women’s experiences in the underground were preconditioned by conservative gender norms accentuated by the harsh reality of underground life, where a woman was vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Regardless of their route to militarization, the place allocated for women in the movement was inferior to that reserved for men.

Constructing a Model Nationalist Woman: Exception and Rule

In order to understand the projected roles of women within the OUN and the UPA, and the ways in which militarization shaped these roles, it is instructive to examine the case of Ol’ha Basarab. In a sense reflecting the fluctuating influences on nationalistically inclined Ukrainian women of her generation, Basarab had been a prominent member and the treasurer of the Union of Ukrainian Women, but was also involved in the Ukrainian Military Organization.113 After becoming involved in the UVO and being arrested for her activities, she died in a Polish prison in 1924, which gave the nationalist movement a formidable female martyr.114 The OUN commemorated her death annually, emphasizing the continuity between the nation-building struggle of the postwar period and their own fight for Ukraine’s independence, which was manifested by Basarab’s example:

A Woman-Warrior of the Ukrainian National Revolution, who took an active part in the liberation struggle of 1917–21, who did not drop her weapon following a temporary failure, who was a co-worker, unbroken, tireless comrade of the Leaders [Vozhdiv], the late Ievhen Konovalets and Andrii Mel’nyk. A revolutionary who was capable of dying in the most horrific tortures having revealed no secret, having betrayed none of her comrades. The day of 12 February, the day of death of this unbreakable Woman-Warrior has become the holiday of the OUN womenfolk.115

The commemoration was introduced not only in order to “bow our heads before the steely figure of Ol’ha Basarab,” but also to “think of the tasks of the present” and to “consider how we should perform our tasks, in order not to bring shame on the good name of Ukrainian womenfolk.” While this new commemorative date aimed to celebrate Basarab as an almost mythical woman-warrior, its underlying function was to enforce the militarization of Ukrainian women, at the same time bracketing off Basarab as an exception who reinforced the rule of auxiliary and subservient militarized roles for women:

Not all of us women, are destined to be warriors, not all have the strength and resilience to bear the efforts and hardships of a soldier’s life. Yet each of us women has and will have a specific task, a dedicated place in the National Revolution, which she is forbidden to leave freely. Each will have a certain duty in which she must endure even when the bullets are flying, even if worlds are collapsing. No matter if this task is great or small. For there are no great or small tasks when … every moment counts and when every failure threatens a catastrophe.116

An address that was prepared to be read out to women at the commemorations in each center of nationalist activity detailed the roles intended for women and the importance of their obedient fulfillment:

Whether the duty is that of a [female] reconnaissance agent, telephonist, nurse, intendant, whether the need is to clean or procure weapons, take care of the fighters’ clothes or undergarments, to peel potatoes in the military kitchens—all these are equally important tasks. Their complete and dignified fulfillment is our aim. … The fulfillment of the tasks entrusted to us to the best of our ability, betraying no one and not despairing in case of failure, that is our wish for each other.117

The address concluded with a reminder of the members’ responsibility toward the movement’s martyrs: “Let us not bring shame on the good name of Ukrainian womenrevolutionaries, whose patron is Ol’ha Basarab.”118 Emphasizing that not all women were cut out for great deeds and that “small tasks” were perfectly acceptable, the OUN was forging a new image of a nationalist woman: patriotic, “feminine,” and, most importantly, loyal to the nationalist cause and subservient to the needs of the organization.

The Virtues and Values of Female Nationalists

The nationalists’ focus on generally reserving nurturing functions for women did not, of course, prevent them from engaging their female members in active military and terrorist activities.119 Petrenko states that “female members of the OUN observed the ‘objects’ [i.e., targets], got acquainted with their habits and regular daily routines, started selective friendships with ‘useful’ people, hid weapons before and after the attempt, helped assassins to disappear, and laid bombs.”120 The nationalists thought that women were well equipped to perform these tasks as, at least initially, they could carry them out “without arousing the suspicion of the state security forces.”121 A reconnaissance manual of the OUN’s Security Service issued in 1940 draws the following conclusions on the usefulness of women in this sphere of work: “Men are discreet, resilient, consistent, but they often lack allure and usually have no cunning. Women have these two main qualities: allure and cunning. This enables a woman … to make a true intelligence agent.” As well as praising these qualities of a female agent, the manual also warns that females are “chatty, they like affectation, frequently fall in love, their heart takes control over their will.”122 These weaknesses, according to the manual, meant that “when choosing reconnaissance agents, women come below men.” The manual thus sums up how women were perceived within the Ukrainian nationalist movement from the 1930s to the 1940s: viewed in the context of traditional expectations and conventional gendered characteristics, they were acclaimed for certain qualities and militarized when this was beneficial to the movement, but classed as inferior to men in general.

The manual, however, does not just identify useful and problematic female traits in relation to reconnaissance, but actively encourages the instrumentalization of women’s femininity (and sexuality) and describes the ways in which these can be used:

A woman is often treated as a confidante, starting with a prostitute and ending with women of high standing. A shrewd woman can be used as a confidante in situations to which a man has no access. For instance, when there is a need to make friendly connections in the officers’ circles, which a woman achieves very well. A woman can be used as a courier to the areas inaccessible to men. In a word, a woman through her beauty, her pleasant facial expressions, cunning, and great skillfulness can sometimes perform miracles.

The manual goes on to give the example of a French commissar who recruited young women in Germany to enter into sexual relationships with German officers and in such a way gathered intelligence.123 This type of “use” for women is seen as an important tool in the covert dimensions of the armed struggle.

The nationalists thus saw no contradiction in, on the one hand, elevating women for their modest traditional virtues and, on the other, encouraging them to compromise these very virtues in the service of the nationalist cause. Women of a nationalist persuasion, argued the OUN, “have relationships with foreigners, [and] give themselves only in order to receive as much intelligence as possible, and in this way serve their nation.”124 This expectation that women should use their femininity and sexuality for the nationalist cause (or rather, allow these to be used by their commanders) was another clear sign of women’s militarization. Thus, women’s bodies were militarized as objects in warfare, controlled by, dependent on, and deriving their value from the patriarchal militarized organizations. Female agency in the context of the conflict barely registers on the nationalists’ ideological radar.

The Feminized Liaison

A similar attitude toward militarization of women can be observed in relation to those who were seen as the “blood vessels” of the organization: the liaisons or zviazkovi (literally, connectors), who were vital for the safe exchange of communication.125 Jeffrey Burds estimates that more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian nationalist underground liaisons were women.126 They were responsible for gathering and dispatching intelligence, literature, and fake documents, and for ensuring the procurement of the necessary provisions (including medication, food, clothes, and stationery).127 The OUN instructions state that a woman who undertakes such a role “should thus be an actor, should wear garments, have an appearance and use language and behavior appropriate for the terrain on which she operates” in order to blend in and not risk revealing her, and thus the organization’s, true objectives. “In the world war,” states the document, “women were used to transport important documents across the border. They wore peasants’ clothes, behaved like naïve peasant girls, pretended to drive cattle to another village. And in this way they performed their duties.”128 Here again the nationalist movement relied on women’s ability to perform femininity, while also taking into account regional, class, and other specificities of her adopted persona. Ol’ha Il’kiv confirms using some of these techniques:

In villages we had to play different roles, because there were KGB instructions on how to recognize a banderivka: her skirt is shorter than that of village girls, she has a different hairstyle, she is always tidy and clean. Thus, when we hid during raids we did the dirtiest jobs possible, wore the most repulsive clothes, and spread soot all over our hands and even faces.129

Il’kiv’s description of the KGB instructions points to the fact that they too had an image of a female nationalist as a traditionally feminine woman: tidy and clean. They also assumed that she should stand out among “village girls.” The women therefore tried to deceive the Soviet authorities by acting out a different type of femininity, that expected of a “village girl.” Another nationalist, Ol’ha Shymkiv-Pushchala, managed to avoid arrest by disguising herself as an old woman: “My neighbor dressed me as an old woman, smudged my face with soot and tied a scarf over my head. … When the NKVD men burst into the house, they saw children with an elderly woman (this was me). And that is how I escaped arrest.”130 As in Il’kiv’s case, Shymkiv-Pushchala second-guessed the authorities with regard to their expected image of a female nationalist.

Women who acted as liaisons to the OUN’s leadership have been among the most celebrated female members of the nationalist resistance. Their tasks included ensuring communication between the leaders of the organization, seeing that the leaders’ orders were fulfilled, finding safe houses, equipping bunkers to suit their leaders’ needs, and supplying them with the relevant literature and information on current affairs. Despite their relatively high status within the organization, however, they too were required to perform traditional femininity not only for their own cover but also to ensure the safety of their male superiors. For instance, Halyna Dydyk, one of Shukhevych’s personal liaisons, traveled with him to Odesa in the summer of 1949, posing as his wife while he was undergoing medical treatments.131 Being able to perform traditional femininity was, therefore, an essential skill for women in their nationalist activity. While militarized, they were expected to maintain an unmilitarized appearance.

For the Duration of the War

The militarization of women could appear to be a one-way process, with women solely on the receiving end. Undoubtedly, this process privileges masculinity and often deprives women of agency, but it is more complex than that. Yuval-Davis states that “it is clear that one of the main motivations for women to join the military is an opportunity to empower themselves, both physically and emotionally.”132 Similarly, Enloe argues that “many women who experience militarization do not see themselves as victims of that process.” She states that “while still politically marginalized as women—and perhaps because they have been politically marginalized as women—these women perceive militarization as offering them opportunities they otherwise might not have.” Enloe concludes that “if militarization were oppressive for all women in all situations, militarization would not be so potent a political process.”133 Indeed, the OUN and UPA women experienced a degree of emancipation in the underground, gaining a variety of skills that would otherwise have been denied them. Kis argues:

A great number of peasant women acquired a previously inaccessible education. They studied history, geography, nationalist ideology, espionage, journalism, publishing, and medicine in the underground. Thousands of young peasant girls—otherwise doomed to stay in their home villages for most of their lives—were able to travel around the region and beyond, thus crossing the gendered imperative of immobility and breaking family bonds.134

Some even saw their participation in the movement as a fulfillment of their lifelong ambition. Sofia Lahodych’s duties in the organization were far from glamorous. They involved collecting fabric; making rucksacks; knitting sweaters, socks, and gloves; and collecting food for the underground.135 Her ideological training was also limited: “We had one-day political courses [vyshkoly] a few times,” admits Lahodych. Nevertheless, she saw her contribution to the nationalist fight as an opportunity to address the injustices she suffered in her childhood:

I was a village girl, just a child, who had been brought up by my relatives in the Ukrainian spirit, and I found myself in a big city surrounded by Poles and Jews. … With my village behavior, clothes, and incorrect [Polish] language, the Polish and Jewish children just laughed at me, pushed me, called me names, and shunned me. For the future, I made a solemn promise to myself that I would pay back those who tormented us on our own land. … [Having joined the OUN] I had the opportunity to fulfill, at least in part, the desire of my whole life.136

Il’kiv was also opposed to the Polish state and had little sympathy for ethnic Poles more widely. Similarly to Lahodych, she saw joining the OUN as an ability to make her political voice heard:

I was in Krakow, and saw the nationalists fighting for their cause there. They were marching through the old town singing “Death! Death to the Poles!” I liked that they wore Ukrainian embroidery, that they were all young. And I asked my friends [from Plast, a Ukrainian Scouts organization]: “Are we doing anything like this? If we are not, I don’t want to belong to such an organization.” And I joined the nationalists. And that is when the real nationalists got me.137

Stories like Il’kiv’s and Lahodych’s can serve as evidence that, as Kis puts it, women’s “contribution to the national cause (even when marked as purely feminine) transgressed the framework of the ‘private sphere’ and exceeded traditional gender roles.” Kis argues that through their participation in the nationalist movement, women “proved their preparedness and ability to be the full-fledged members of the nation.”138

There are, however, some potential problems with the emancipation argument. First, if membership of a nation requires “proof,” then there is a danger that many individuals (especially those who oppose the nationalist ideology) might be excluded from it, since their views or behavior do not provide this proof. Here we can see the powerful effects of militarization in a society searching for self-determination: recognition as a full-fledged member of that society depends on having been part of the militarized nationalist movement. Second, as Yuval-Davis argues, “what determines one’s rights and position in society is not whether one participates in the military, but in what capacity.” The nationalist leadership did not treat the women under its control as equal to men, regardless of the risks to their and their families’ lives they may have undertaken, because they were so often militarized in less obvious ways than men, and often treated as auxiliary and as a tool in the struggle rather than as the ones waging that struggle. Third, as Yuval-Davis argues further, “incorporation of women into the military can only partially be related to their social empowerment and depends on the nature of the political project which brought about this social change.”139 As we have seen from their reaction to feminism, the nationalists envisaged a very restricted role for women in the political project they were pursuing. The fact that women occasionally went beyond their limited roles was the result of circumstances—exceptional conditions called for exceptional behavior—rather than a sign of the actual or potential inclusion of women in the national project as equal to men in their rights and opportunities.140 Finally, the inclusion of nationalist women in the political sphere was not only instrumentalized but also temporary and promised no lasting emancipation once the conflict was over. Indeed, Kis seems to acknowledge this point herself, stating that “despite women’s active and mass participation in the underground it did not ultimately help to equalize gender relations in Ukrainian society afterwards, neither did it affect Ukrainian historiography on the subject of the nationalist guerrilla war.” The explanation put forward by Kis is that women nationalists did, in fact, “advance their social status” as a result of their participation in the OUN and UPA, but “the male fighters who sacrificed their lives for the homeland achieved the more prestigious status of national heroes.”141 This merely demonstrates the fact that subordination of women to men, as auxiliary and instrumentalized figures in the armed conflict rather than its agents, was built into the very fabric of the nationalist ideology from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Enloe states that “it is precisely because militarization holds out such advantages to some women some of the time that it has been difficult to see the maneuvers of decision makers and difficult to detect militarization’s fundamentally patriarchal consequences.”142 Women who participated in the nationalist movement were treated and used by the nationalists as women first and foremost, even though they may have joined the organizations seeing themselves as equal members of the Ukrainian nation who had the same goals for national self-determination as their male comrades did.


The mass militarization of women by the nationalists was possible from the 1930s to the 1950s for several reasons. First, Ukrainian feminist organizations, such as the Union of Ukrainian Women, did not offer a viable alternative to the nationalist state-building project: while they criticized the nationalists’ methods of achieving statehood, they did not question the placing of national liberation above individual emancipation. Second, the context of imminent or actual war made militarization, for many of those committed to the national cause, a pressing need, and then an immediate reality. This context also strengthened traditional gender roles: militarization could proceed on such a scale precisely because the nationalists emphasized the ideals of traditional femininity, instrumentalizing these and through this militarizing women in less direct and obvious ways.

The recruitment of women into the OUN and UPA was haphazard and marked by inconsistencies. The nationalists rejected the calls for women’s emancipation voiced by Ukrainian feminists. They insisted that women’s true calling was at home and not in the public sphere, not to mention the theater of war. At the same time, they militarized women en masse and encouraged them to be prepared to take on any duty required of them: from washing the insurgents’ undergarments to fighting on the battlefield. The latter, however, as all other duties normally reserved for the men, became accessible to women only if there were no male insurgents available. Women who distinguished themselves in this area were exceptions who proved the rule of traditional female subordination. Women were accepted into the movement primarily because they could take on the chores of providing care. Their contribution was also welcomed because while performing other tasks (such as reconnaissance, communications, propaganda work), they were able to maintain a civilian appearance, which was vital for the movement’s activities. Thus, central to all the tasks allocated to women was their ability to perform femininity, yet this performance was a tool in the hands of the patriarchal organization, and women’s agency was severely limited.

Dombrowski argues that “beyond remembering that women were there, historians and contemporary policy makers need to debate the ethical and political problems that stem from women’s insertion into the historical record of war, as well as their incorporation into contemporary military forces.”143 In this sense, the legacy of women’s involvement in the OUN and UPA is highly significant for contemporary Ukraine. Oksana Kis suggests:

A study of the survivors’ memoirs can help modern Ukrainian women to legitimize their claims for active political participation in order to ensure their right to be full-fledged citizens and equal members of the emerging Ukrainian political nation. … By learning the history of women during the nationalist guerrilla struggle and comparing it to the present enormous contribution by a new generation, women can confidently claim their well-deserved and equal place in national politics, government and policy decisions.144

This view, which proposes legitimization of political participation via the endorsement of a militarized state-building process, is in line with the official post-Maidan memory politics in Ukraine, which speak of Ukrainians as an “army nation” (narod viis’ko).145 Such rhetorical militarization of the civilian population can be dangerous for a country involved in a military conflict, as it implies the equating of the endorsement of military action (albeit in support of the state’s integrity) with membership of the political nation. It is particularly dangerous for women’s inclusion in this version of the national project. Acceptance of contemporary women as full-fledged members of a political nation on the grounds of their support for militarization not only excludes those who do not support militarization (nationalist or built on any other ideology), but also increases the likelihood that women will face the same dilemmas of instrumentalization of femininity, subordination, and denial of gender equality as the nationalist women faced from the 1930s to the 1950s. Sociological research that studies participation of women in the conflict in the Donbas region suggests that these tendencies are already evident in contemporary Ukraine.146

Criticizing the patriarchal nature of the Ukrainian nationalist movement from the 1930s to the 1950s without scrutinizing the ideology of nationalism itself, the authoritarian nature of the OUN, or the violence perpetrated by the UPA and the OUN results in a view of patriarchy not as “the bedfellow of militarization” but as “the barrier to women’s and girls’ full militarization.”147 Such an approach leaves a large lacuna in the study of nationalist women, as it ignores the ways in which militarization as an inherent feature of the nationalist struggle limited women’s rights and freedoms. This article has attempted to assess patriarchy as an integral part of militarization practices, but it barely scratches the surface of the multilayered analysis that is required for a deeper understanding of the militarization of women by the nationalists. It has focused only on willing participants in the nationalist movement; an assessment of the militarization of those women who actively opposed the nationalists and whom the OUN or UPA attacked merits a separate study.

Another under-examined aspect of women’s participation in the nationalist movement is the contribution women made specifically to the perpetration of terrorist acts and war crimes. While some studies refer to cases where women were in charge of military units or took part in direct combat, their overall impact on the nationalists’ ability to wage a violent struggle is yet to be assessed. Further study of women’s participation in the nationalist movement is very important for a number of reasons: as well as revealing how and why women were militarized into guerrilla warfare and what consequences this had for the militarizing organizations and for the women, it can help us understand the contemporary involvement of women in nationalist organizations, which in Ukraine and beyond often remain inherently patriarchal and staunchly opposed to gender equality. Finally, the analysis of nationalist women’s militarization from the 1930s to the 1950s can facilitate a broader discussion on how militarization leads to civilians’ complicity in the perpetration of violence as part of the nationalist struggle in a contextualized and gender-sensitive way.


The research for this article was made possible by the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. I am grateful to Uilleam Blacker, Marta Havryshko, the editors, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article.


I focus my analysis on the region where the nationalist movement was most active, namely, eastern Galicia and western Volhynia (present-day western Ukraine). In the period discussed in the article, the region was first part of Poland and then annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939 as a result of the Non-Aggression Treaty between Germany and the USSR, and in 1945 as the outcome of the postwar border shifts. The OUN and the UPA were not the only nationalist groups operating in this region. They were, however, the most numerous and influential. It would be interesting to analyze gender dynamics in other Ukrainian nationalist organizations of this period, but due to the restrictions of this article I will limit my analysis to the OUN and UPA. Therefore, unless otherwise stated, when I write about nationalists I mean representatives of these groups and when I write about nationalism I refer to the type of nationalism propagated by the OUN and UPA. While I acknowledge that these organizations underwent internal changes—the OUN split in 1940 and the two branches disagreed on a number of issues, and the UPA’s politics evolved throughout its existence—a combined discussion of these organizations in relation to gender dynamics is nevertheless justified, since their gender politics did not differ in any significant way. For a discussion of the ideology supported by the Ukrainian nationalist movement in the 1920s–1930s, see Oleksandr Zaitsev, Ukrains’kyi integral’nyi natsionlalizm, (1920–1930 roky): Narysy intelektual’noi istorii [Ukrainian integral nationalism (1920–1930): Intellectual history sketches] (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2013). See also Myroslav Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism: Politics, Ideology and Literature, 1929–1956 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015).


The exact number of women who participated in the nationalist movement is not known. Nor is there any consensus on the number of members of the OUN and UPA in general. Oksana Kis refers to an email exchange with the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, Volodymyr Viatrovych, in which he “estimates that the Ukrainian nationalist underground may have number [sic] up to 500,000—including about 100,000 military. He also estimates that women constituted about 1/3 of those who participated in non-military activities.” Oksana Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested: Women’s Participation in the Nationalist Underground in Western Ukraine during the 1940s–50s," East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies 2, no. 2 (2015): 53–82, here 69n. These numbers, however, seem exaggerated in comparison with other available estimates. Grzegorz Motyka suggests that by the end of 1944, the UPA consisted of up to thirty thousand insurgents and around one hundred thousand potential recruits. See Grzegorz Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka 1942–1960: Działalność Organizacji Ukraińskich Nacjonalistów i Ukraińskiej Powstańczej Armii [Ukrainian partisan movement 1942–1960: The activity of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army] (Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm, 2006), 424. Olena Petrenko offers an indication of the extent to which women participated in the movement by stating that twenty-two out of the fifty-nine defendants at a trial against the nationalists carried out in Lviv at the beginning of 1941 were women. See Olena Petrenko, “Geschlecht, Gewalt, Nation: Die Organization Ukrainischer Nationalisten und die Frau” [Gender, violence, nation: The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and women], Osteuropa 4 (2016): 83–93, here 85.


The article will only refer to key milestones from the history of the OUN and UPA, as this history has been thoroughly studied by scholars already. For a variety of works discussing the nationalist activity, see Ryszard Torzecki, Polacy i Ukraińcy: Sprawa ukraińska w czasie II wojny światowej na terenie II Rzeczypospolitej [Poles and Ukrainians: The Ukrainian case during World War II in the Second Polish Republic] (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1993); Ray Brandon and Wendy Lower, eds., The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008); Frank Golczewski, “Nationalsozialisten und Nationalisten” [National Socialists and Nationalists], in Deutsche und Ukrainer 1914–1936 [Germans and Ukrainians 1914–1936] (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, 2010), 547–667; Grzegorz Motyka, Od rzezi wołyńskiej do akcji “Wisła”: Konflikt polsko-ukraiński 1943–1947 [From the Volhynian massacre to the Vistula operation: The Polish-Ukrainian conflict 1943–1947] (Krakow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2011); John-Paul Himka, “The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd,” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue canadienne des slavistes 53, nos. 2–4 (2011): 209–243; Ivan Patryliak, Peremoha abo smert’: Ukrains’kyi vyzvol’nyi rukh u 1939–1960 rr. [Victory or death: The Ukrainian Liberation Movement in 1939–1960] (Lviv: Chasopys, 2012); Oleksandr Zaitsev, “Ukrainian Integral Nationalism in Quest of a ‘special Path’ (1920s–1930s),” Russian Politics and Law 51, no. 5 (2013): 11–32; Zaitsev, Ukrains’kyi integral’nyi natsionlalizm; Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist—Fascism, Genocide, and Cult (Stuttgart: Ibidem Press, 2014); Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism; Volodymyr Viatrovych, Za lashtunkamy “Volyni-43”: Nevidoma pol’s’ko-ukrains’ka viina [Behind the scenes of “Volyn-43”: The unknown Polish-Ukrainian war] (Kharkiv: Klub simeinoho dozvillia, 2016).


See Olesya Khromeychuk, “What Place for Women in Ukraine’s Memory Politics?,” Open Democracy Russia, 10 October 2016,


Weronika Grzebalska, Płeć Powstania Warszawskiego [The gender of the Warsaw Uprising] (Warsaw: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2013), 15. Unless otherwise stated, all translations are mine.


The official interpretations of Ukrainian nationalism of the twentieth century have differed throughout the years of Ukraine’s independence and depended largely on the view taken by the regime in power. The developments that followed the Maidan protests saw Ukrainian memory politics shift once again (and this time more forcefully) toward justificatory and celebratory narratives of the nationalist movement. See Law of Ukraine, “On the Legal Status and Honouring the Memory of Fighters for Ukraine’s Independence in the Twentieth Century,” Ukrains’kyi instytut natsional’noi pam’iati, (accessed 23 May 2017).


Nira Yuval-Davis, Nation and Gender (London: Sage, 1997), 98. Emphasis in original.


Volodymyr Ivanchenko, Kvitka u chervonomu pekli: Zhyttievyi shliakh Liudmyly Foi [A flower in a red hell: The life of Liudmyla Foia] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2009).


Tetiana Antonova, “Zhinka ta ii ‘myrni,’ ‘napivmyrni’ i ‘voienni’ roli v borot’bi OUN i UPA,” [A woman and her “peaceful,” “semi-peaceful,” and “military” roles in the struggle of the OUN and UPA], Ukrains’kyi vyzvol’nyi rukh [Ukrainian liberation movement] 9 (2007): 138–147, here 140.


See Borys Savchuk, Zhinotstvo v suspil’nomu zhytti zakhidnoi Ukrainy (ostannia tretyna XIX stolittia-1939 r.) [Womenfolk in the social life of western Ukraine (from the late 19th century to 1939)] (Ivano-Frankivsk: Lileia, 1998); Bohdan Savka, A smert’ ikh bezsmertiam zustrila: Narysy, spohady, dokumenty pro uchast’ zhinotstva triokh raioniv Ternopillia (Husiatyns’kyi, Zalishchyts’kyi, Pidvolochys’kyi) v natsional’no-vyzvol’nii borot’bi OUN-UPA 40-kh-pochatku 50-kh rokiv XX stolittia [Death met them with immortality: Sketches, memoirs, documents about the participation of womenfolk in three Ternopil regions (Husiatyns’kyi, Zalishchyts’kyi, Pidvolochys’kyi) in the national liberation struggle of the OUN-UPA in the 1940s to early 1950s] (Ternopil: Dzhura, 2003); Halyna Datsiuk, “Tema vyzvol’nykh zmahan’ u konteksti usnoi istorii: Zhinochyi dosvid” [The theme of the liberation movement in the context of oral history: Women’s experience], Naukovi Zapysky z Ukrains’koi Istorii [Ukrainian history: Proceedings] 19 (Ternopil: Aston, 2007): 476–477; Oleksandr Ishchuk and Volodymyr Ivanchenko, Zhyttievyi Shliakh Halyny Holoiad-“Marty Hai” [The life of Halyna Holoiad-“Marta Hai”] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2010); Volodymyr Viatrovych, Istoriia z hryfom “Sekretno”: Taiemnytsi ukrains’koho mynuloho z arkhiviv KHB [Classified history: The secrets of the Ukrainian past in the KGB archives] (Lviv: Tsentr doslidzhen’ vyzvol’noho rukhu, 2012); Iaroslav Faizulin and Volodymyr Hinda, Ukraina u vohni mynuloho stolittia: Postati, fakty, versii [Ukraine in the flames of the last century: Historical figures, facts, interpretations] (Kharkiv: Klub simeinoho dozvillia, 2015). See also the “biographical directory" of women who participated in the nationalist movement: Nadiia Mudra, ed., Ukrains’ka zhinka u vyzvol’nii borot’bi 1940–1950 rr. [Ukrainian women in the liberation struggle of the 1940s–1950s], vols. 1, 2, and 3 (Lviv: Vydavnytstvo “Svit,” 2004, 2006, and 2009).


Maria Savchyn, Tysiacha dorih: Spohady zhinky-uchasnytsi pidpil’no-vyzvol’noi borot’by pid chas i pislia Druhoi svitovoi viiny [Thousands of roads: A memoir of a woman’s life in the Ukrainian underground during and after World War II] (Kyiv: Smoloskyp, 2003), 13.


See, for example, Maria Pan’kiv, ed., Vira, nadiia, liubov: Spohady zhinok [Faith, hope, love: Women’s reminiscences], vols. 1 and 2 (Warsaw: Ukrains’kyi Arkhiv, 2001, 2005); Ol’ha Il’kiv, “Providnyk Roman Shukhevych i zhinky” [The leader Roman Shukhevych and women], in Roman Shukhevych: Postat’ na tli doby voiuiuchoi Ukrainy [Roman Shukhevych: A figure against the background of Ukraine in times of war], ed. Vasyl Shtokalo (Ternopil: Ideia i chyn, 2005), 247–250; Halyna Kokhans’ka, Z Ukrainoiu u sertsi [With Ukraine in my heart] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2008); Ivanna Mashchak, Dorohamy mynuloho [On the roads of the past] (Kyiv: Kupola, 2010); Dariia Poliuha, “Vse zh ne daremno!” [Not in vain!] (Lviv-Kharkiv: self-published, 2014).


Lesia Onyshko, “Zhyttia posviachene borot’bi: Suspil’no-politychnyi portret Halyny Dydyk” [Life dedicated to the struggle: A sociopolitical portrait of Halyna Dydyk], Ukraina: Kul’turna spadshchyna, natsional’na svidomist’, derzhavnist’ [Ukraine: Cultural heritage, national consciousness, statehood] 22 (2012): 388–397, here 388 (this and the previous two quotations).


Olena Pustomitenko, “Zhinky u pidpilli OUN(B) u roky nimets’ko-radians’koi viiny ta u povoiennyi chas” [Women in the underground of the OUN(B) during the German-Soviet war and after the war], Acta Studiosa Historica 4 (2014): 77–83, here 77.


Larysa Zariczniak, “Violence and the UPA Woman: Experiences and Influences,” Ievropeis’ki istorychni studii [European historical studies] 2 (2015): 243–267, here 244.


For the roles women played in the OUN and UPA, see Lesia Onyshko, Kateryna Zaryts’ka: Molytva do syna [Kateryna Zaryts’ka: A prayer to a son] (Lviv: Svit, 2002); Lesia Onyshko, “Rol’ zhinky v ukrains’komu natsional’no-vyzvol’nomu rusi seredyny XX stolittia” [The role of a woman in the Ukrainian national liberation movement of the mid-twentieth century], Ukrains’kyi vyzvol’nyi rukh [Ukrainian liberation movement] 3 (2004): 30–38; Lesia Onyshko, “Nam sontse vsmikhalos’ kriz’ rzhavii graty”: Kateryna Zaryts’ka v ukraiins’komu natsional’no-vyzvol’nomu rusi [“The sun smiled on us through the rusty prison bars“: Kateryna Zaryts’ka in the Ukrainian national liberation movement] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2007).


See Oksana Kis [Kis’], “Zhinochyi dosvid uchasti u natsional’no-vyzvol’nykh zmahanniakh na zakhidnoukrains’kykh zemliakh u 1940–50-kh rr.” [Women’s experience of participation in the national liberation struggle on western Ukrainian lands in the 1940s–1950s], Skhid-Zakhid: Istoryko-kul’torolohichnyi zbirnyk [East-West: The journal for history and culture] 13–14 (2009): 101–125; Oksana Kis, “Mizh osobystym i politychnym: Genderni osoblyvosti dosvidu zhinok-uchasnyts’ natsional’no-vyzvol’nykh zmahan’ na zakhidno-Ukrains’kykh zemliakh u 1940–1950-kh rokakh” [Between the private and the political: Gender specificity of the experience of female members of the national liberation struggle on western Ukrainian lands in the 1940s–1950s], Narodoznavchi zoshyty [Ethnic studies journal] 112, no. 4 (2013): 591–599; Oksana Kis, “Misiia (ne)zdiisnenna: Spohady Marii Savchyn iak idea i chyn” [Mission (im)possible: The memoirs of Maria Savchyn as idea and deed], in “I slova staly chynom zhyvym …” Borot’ba OUN ta UPA kriz’ pryzmu liuds’kykh dol’ ta stosunkiv: Zbirnyk biohrafichnykh narysiv [“And words became deeds …” The struggle of the OUN and UPA through the prism of human fates and relationships: A collection of biographical sketches], ed. O. Stasiuk (Lviv: NAN Ukrainy. Instytut ukrainoznavstva im. I. Kryp’iakevycha, 2014): 79–116; Oksana Kis, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni zmahannia iak vyprobuvannia mezh tradytsiinoi zhinochosti: Zhinochyi dosvid u natsional’nomu pidpilli 1940–1950-kh rokiv” [The national liberation struggle as a test for the limits of traditional femininity: Women’s experience of the nationalist underground of the 1940s–1950s], Etnichna istoriia narodiv Ievropy [Ethnic history of the peoples of Europe] 48 (2016): 61–78.


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested," 67.


Ibid., 68.


Ibid., 54.


A similar view is held by Maria Mandryk. See Maria Mandryk, “Zhinochi oblychchia ukrains’koho pidpillia—gendernyi pryntsyp chy ‘cholovicha’ istoria borot’by” [Feminine faces of the Ukrainian underground—gender principle or a “masculine" history of the struggle], Kul’tura narodov prichernomoria [The culture of the peoples of the Black Sea region] 162 (2009): 129–134.


Nicole Ann Dombrowski, “Soldiers, Saints, or Sacrificial Lambs? Women’s Relationship to Combat and the Fortification of the Home Front in the Twentieth Century," in Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Enlisted with or without Consent, ed. Nicole Ann Dombrowski (New York: Routledge, 2004), 2–37, here 4.


Yuval-Davis, Nation and Gender, 114.


Joshua S. Goldstein, War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 403.


Cynthia Enloe, Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives (Berkley: University of California Press, 2000), 291. Emphasis in original.


Ibid., 289.


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested,” 76.


Enloe, Maneuvers, x.


See Jeffrey Burds, “Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine, 1944–1948,” Cahiers du Monde Russe 42, nos. 2–4 (2001): 279–320; Olena Petrenko, “Anatomy of the Unsaid: Along the Taboo Lines of Female Participation in the Ukrainian Nationalistic Underground,” in Dynamization of Gender Roles in Wartime, ed. Ruth Leiserowitz and Maren Röger (Warsaw: German Historical Institute, 2012), 241–261; Olena Petrenko, “Instrumentalizatsiia strakhu: Vykorystannia radians’kymy ta pol’s’kymy orhanamy bezpeky zhinok-ahentiv u borot’bi proty ukrains’koho natsionalistychnoho pidpillia" [Instrumentalization of fear: The use of the female agents by the Soviet and Polish security services in their fight against the Ukrainian nationalist underground], Ukraina Moderna, 4 November 2011,; Petrenko, “Geschlecht, Gewalt, Nation”; Olena Petrenko, Unter Männern: Frauen im ukrainischen nationalistischen Untergrund 1929–1954 [Among men: Women in the Ukrainian nationalist underground 1929–1954] (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2017); Marta Havryshko, “Zaboronene kokhannia: Faktychni druzhyny uchasnykiv pidpillia OUN ta UPA” [Forbidden love: The actual wives of the members of the OUN and UPA underground], in Zhinky tsentral’noi ta skhidnoi Ievropy u Druhii svitovii viini: Henderna spetsyfika dosvidu v chasy ekstremal’noho nasyl’stva [Central and East European women and World War II: Gendered experiences in a time of extreme violence], ed. Gelinada Grinchenko, Kateryna Kobchenko, and Oksana Kis (Kyiv: TOV “Art Knyha,” 2015), 123–141; Marta Havryshko, “Illegitimate Sexual Practices in the OUN Underground and UPA in Western Ukraine in the 1940s and 1950s,” The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies 17 (2016),; Marta Havryshko, “Choloviky, zhinky i nasyl’stvo v OUN ta UPA v 1940–1950-kh rr.” [Men, women, and violence in the OUN and UPA in the 1940s-1950s], Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal [Ukrainian historical journal] 4 (2016): 89–107.


See Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves: Women in Ukrainian Community Life 1884–1939 (Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1988).


Given the potential dilemmas posed by testimonies collected decades after the events and provided by people invested in the events, and the ways collective or shared memories are shaped, I do not rely primarily on oral testimonies in my analysis and use them in combination with other sources.


Chris Coulter, “Female Fighters in the Sierra Leone War: Challenging the Assumptions?,” Feminist Review 88 (2008): 54–73, here 57.


Serhiy Kudelia, “Choosing Violence in Irregular Wars: The Case of Anti-Soviet Insurgency in Western Ukraine,” East European Politics & Societies 27, no. 1 (2013): 149–181, here 175.


Interviewee Dariia Poliuha, 7 November 2015, Lviv.


See “The Plan of a Bunker of the Insurgent ‘Hrek,’” 1947, Haluzevyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Sluzhby Bezpeky Ukrainy (HDA SBU) [Sectoral State Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine], F. 13, Spr. 298, T. 36, Ark. 41. See also Kokhans’ka, Z Ukrainoiu u sertsi, 91–92, 138–139, 142–143, 175, 179; Petro J. Potichnyi, Arkhitektura rezystansu: Kryivky i bunkery UPA v svitli radians’kykh dokumentiv [Architecture of resistance: Hideouts and bunkers of the UPA in Soviet documents] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2002); Kis, “Natsional’no vyzvol’ni zmahannia,” 65.


Enloe, Maneuvers, 235. Emphasis in original.


Ibid., 245. Emphasis in original.


For a detailed description of the different types of women’s involvement in the nationalist movement, see Kis, “Zhinochyi dosvid,” 104.


See Larysa Zariczniak’s study of family and kinship ties in the UPA: Larysa Zariczniak, “Friends, Family and Kinship Ties in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,” Sums’kyi Istoryko-arkh-ivnyi zhurnal [Sumy historical and archival journal] 24 (2015),


This category has received the least attention, as themes such as forced mobilization into the ranks of the UPA and coercion of civilians to aid the nationalist organizations continue to be under-researched. Among the rare examples of works that discuss these issues are Kudelia, “Choosing Violence in Irregular Wars”; Havryshko, “Illegitimate Sexual Practices”; Burds, “Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine”; Petrenko, “Instrumentalizatsiia strakhu”; and Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 72.


Enloe, Maneuvers, 289 (this and the previous two quotations).


For a discussion of deportations of Ukrainian nationalists and people suspected of helping the nationalists, see Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 188; Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (London: Vintage Books, 2011), 151; Andrew Wilson, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).


Enloe, Maneuvers, 289.


Dombrowski, “Soldiers, Saints, or Sacrificial Lambs?,” 7.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 126.


Goldstein, War and Gender, 3.


Ibid., 5.


The exact number of female members of the unit is difficult to establish. The number that is usually quoted in literature is around thirty. Olena Stepaniv, who became a famous public figure, was their quartermaster. See Mar’iana Baidak, “Vtecha i povernennia: Ukrainky v lavakh Sichovykh stril’tsiv” [Escape and return: Ukrainian women in the ranks of the Sich sharpshooters], Ukraina Moderna, 13 October 2016,,para.10.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 141–142.


Laura Sjoberg, Gender, Justice, and the Wars in Iraq: A Feminist Reformulation of Just War Theory (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006), 34. Emphasis in original.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 141–142.


The Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 in the Russian Empire and the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 provided the opportunity for attempts to form a sovereign Ukrainian state. This allowed for the formation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (Ukrains’ka Narodna Respublika, UNR) on the territory of nine guberniias of the Russian Empire where ethnic Ukrainians constituted a majority, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (Zakhidnoukrains’ka Narodna Respublika, ZUNR), which consisted of the territories of eastern Galicia. On 22 January 1919, the UNR and ZUNR united, for a short time, into one state.


Dombrowski, “Soldiers, Saints, or Sacrificial Lambs?,” 30.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 146. Emphasis in original.


Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 183. The Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance was the largest legal political force representing Ukrainians in interwar Poland.


Tatiana Zhurzhenko, “Milena Rudnytska,” in South Eastern Europe: 19th and 20th Centuries, ed. Francisca de Haan, Krassimira Daskalova, and Anna Loutfi (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2006), 470–474, here 471. The term “national liberation movement” (ukrains’kyi vyzvol’nyi rukh, or ukrains’ki vyzvol’ni zmahannia) is widely used in Ukrainian historiography.




Shkandri, Ukrainian Nationalism, 183.


Milena Rudnyts’ka, “Ekonomichna nezalezhnist’ zhinky” [Economic independence of women], a speech at the General Meeting of the Ukrainian Women’s Society “Soiuz Ukrainok,” 22–23 December 1929, in Milena Rudnyts’ka: Statti, lysty, dokymenty [Milena Rudnyts’ka: Articles, letters, documents], ed. Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak and Myroslava Diadiuk (Zhovkva: Misioner, 1998), 143 (this and the previous quotation).


See Olena Petrenko, “Geschlecht, Gewalt, Nation,” 91.


Tatiana Zhurzhenko, “‘Nebezpechni zv’iazky’: Natsionalizm ta feminism v Ukraini” [“Dangerous liaisons”: Nationalism and feminism in Ukraine], in Ukraina: Protsesy natsiotvorennia [Ukraine: Nation-building processes], ed. Andreas Kappeler (Kyiv: K.I.S, 2011), 138–153, here 139.


Petrenko, “Geschlecht, Gewalt, Nation,” 91.


Zhurzhenko, “Milena Rudnytska,” 472.


Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 22, 23.


See Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 190; Torzecki, Polacy i Ukraińcy.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 221.


The OUN’s methods included the burning down of Polish estates, the destruction of roads, rail lines, and telephone connections, as well as assassinations of political figures who opposed them. See Torzecki, Polacy i Ukraińcy, 12; Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 18–20, 17–48, 184. As a result of their activity, the OUN activists suffered heavily from the Polish state’s policy of “pacification”(Pacyfikacja Małopolski Wschodniej), a campaign of punitive actions by the Polish police against the Ukrainian minority in eastern Galicia. See Ryszard Tomczyk, Ukraińskie Zjednoczenie Narodowo-Demokratyczne 1925–1939 [Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance 1925–1939] (Szczecin: Książnica Pomorska im. Stanisława Staszica, 2006), 131. See also Karol Grünberg and Bolesław Sprengel, Trudne sąsiedztwo: Stosunki polsko-ukraińskie w X–XX wieku [Difficult neighbors: Polish-Ukrainian relations in the 10th–20th centuries] (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 2005); Motyka, Ukraińska partyzantka.


Shkandri, Ukrainian Nationalism, 184.


See Petrenko, “Geschlecht, Gewalt, Nation,” 93; Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 184–185.


A publication of the OUN-B, published by the Women’s Section of Department of Culture of the Ukrainian Central Committee, Daria Rebet, “Suspil’na rolia zhinky” [Social role of a woman], undated, HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 48, Ark. 15(zv). The publication is undated, but it is likely that it was written in the mid-1940s. Although when this publication emerged the Union of Ukrainian Women no longer existed, the criticism of feminism voiced here is in line with the earlier critique of the Union of Ukrainian Women by the nationalists. For more information about Daria Rebet, see Mykola Posivnych and Vasyl Brelius, Narys zhyttia Darii Rebet—“Orlian” [Daria Rebet—‘Orlian”: A life’s portrait] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2013).


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 221.


Marta Havryshko, “Vplyv ‘gendernoi polityky’ u Tretiomu Raikhu na ukrains’kyi feministychnyi dyskurs v Halychyni 1930-kh rr.” [The influence of “gender politics” in the Third Reich on the Ukrainian feminist discourse in Galicia in the 1930s], Ukrainoznavchyi al’manakh [Ukrainian studies almanac] 6 (2011): 86–90, here 87–88 (this and the previous quotation).


Ibid., 88–89.


Milena Rudnyts’ka (unsigned), “Konsolidatsiia, totalitaryzm, zhinotstvo” [Consolidation, totalitarianism, and the womenfolk], Zhinka [Woman], 15 September 1937, in Bohachevsky-Chomiak and Diadiuk, Milena Rudnyts’ka, 300–303.


Ibid., 302.


In Zaitsev, Ukrains’kyi integral’nyi natsionalism, 414.


Underground publication of the OUN-B, M. Rak, “Do pytannia pryznachennia ukrains’koi zhinky” [On the question of the function of the Ukrainian woman], undated, HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 48, Ark. 11.


Rebet, “Suspil’na rolia zhinky,” HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 48, Ark. 19 (this and the previous two quotations).


Interviewee Ol’ha Il’kiv, 9 September 2013, Lviv. Emphasis in speech. Roman Shukhevych (1907–1950) was commander in chief of the UPA. He had previously served as captain of Nachtigall battalion and Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, which were formed within the German Armed Forces. See David R. Marples, Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007); Olesya Khromeychuk, “Ukrainians in the German Armed Forces During the Second World War,” History: The Journal of the Historical Association 100, no. 343 (2016): 704–724.


Publication of the Women’s Division of the OUN-M, “Na probii” [Toward the breakthrough], undated, Arkhiv Tsentru doslidzhen’ vyzvol’noho rukhu (ATsDVR) [Archive of the Liberation Movement Research Center], F. 17, T. 7, Ark. 9.


Ibid., 8.


Iurii Lypa, “Ukrains’ka zhinka” [The Ukrainian woman], Zhinka [Woman] 7–8 (April 1938), For a thorough overview of Iurii Lypa’s writings and ideas, see Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 207–225.


Lypa, “Ukrains’ka zhinka.”


See Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 190.


“Na probii,” ATsDVR, F. 17, T. 7, Ark. 9.


Lypa even claimed that those women who had been pregnant were more balanced than those who had never had children. See Lypa, “Ukrains’ka zhinka.”


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 190.


“Na probii,” ATsDVR, F. 17, T. 7, Ark. 7.




Teliha was closely associated with Dmytro Dontsov, an ideologue who had a profound influence on the formation of the specific type of nationalism propagated by the OUN. For more information on Dontsov, see Shkandrip Ukrainian Nationalism, 79–100; Alexander J. Motyl, The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (New York: Boulder, 1980), 61–85; Zaitsev, Ukrains’kyi integral’nyi natsionlalizm.


Olena Teliha, “Iakymy nas prahnete?” [How do you desire us?], Visnyk [Herald] (Warsaw, October 1935), (this and the previous three sentences). Teliha’s image was posthumously formed by nationalist men as they desired to see it. After her execution by the Nazis in 1942, she started to be viewed as a nationalist martyr who represented the perfect ideal of a female nationalist: a traditionally feminine but strong-willed woman whose role was “to inspire the men to political action.” Shkandri, Ukrainian Nationalism, 186.


Shkandri, Ukrainian Nationalism, 190.


Goldstein, War and Gender, 3.


“Na probii,” ATsDVR, F. 17, T. 7, Ark. 7.


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Feminists Despite Themselves, 221.


Ibid., 221.


Petrenko, “Anatomy of the Unsaid,” 254.


Ibid., 254–255.


David Marples assesses the various versions of the creation of the UPA. He concludes that the UPA emerged “in the spring and summer of 1943,” although the “formation of the UPA, according to its participants and supporters, dates from October 1942.” Marples, Heroes and Villains, 129–130. The UPA was under the political control of the OUN-B (the branch of the OUN led by Stepan Bandera). Although in July 1944, the UPA became formally subordinated to the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (Ukrains’ka holovna vyzvol’na rada), the OUN-B continued to be “responsible for the strategic directives and tactical decisions guiding the anti-Soviet insurgency after World War II.” Kudelia, “Choosing Violence in Irregular Wars,” 155–157. See also Alexander Statiev, The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 106. Stepan Bandera (1909–1959) was a prominent nationalist who became leader of a more radical branch of the OUN after it split in 1940. See Rossoliński-Liebe, Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist; Marples, Heroes and Villains.


See Petrenko, “Anatomy of the Unsaid,” 254–255.


Interviewee Ol’ha Il’kiv, 9 September 2013, Lviv; interviewee Liubomyr Poliuha, 7 November 2015, Lviv.


See HDA SBU (Kyiv), F. 6, Spr. 75575., T. 1 and 2.


Interviewee Il’kiv. Il’kiv uses the acronym KGB (Komitet gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti, Committee for State Security), which is a popular name for the Soviet secret services. This name, however, did not come into existence until 1954, when the KGB became a successor to the MGB (Ministerstvo gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti, Ministry for State Security).


Interviewee Il’kiv.


The authorities released Kateryna Bei the first time she was arrested because they made her agree to find her brother and persuade him to cooperate with them. Following her release, she got in touch with the nationalists and told them about her arrest. She continued working for the nationalist movement until she was rearrested. “Postanovlenie o prediavlenii obvineniia” [Prosecution order], 6 December 1947, HDA SBU (Kyiv), F. 6, Spr. 67970, FP, T. 1, Ark. 108–109.


Recounting her escape from a Soviet prison, OUN member Ievheniia Romanyna said that some of her fellow nationalists did not want to run away “because their families at home could suffer as a result of their escape.” Security Service of the OUN (Sluzba Bezpeky, SB) Interrogation Protocol of Ievheniia Romanyna, 27 May 1950, ATsDVR, F. 73, T. 1, Spr. 001, Ark. 3.


Savchyn, Tysiacha dorih, 38–39.


Kis, “Zhinochyi dosvid,” 115.


See Kokhans’ka, Z Ukrainoiu u sertsi, 78; Havryshko, “Choloviky, zhinky i nasyl’stvo,” 105; Havryshko, “Zaboronene kokhannia,” 135, 138.


Havryshko, “Illegitimate Sexual Practices,” para. 78.


Ibid., para. 10–11 (this and the previous quotation).


Marta Havryshko explains that “in the legal system of the nationalist underground, rape was considered a severe criminal offense, which was even punishable by death. However, individual punishment took different forms based on each specific case and depended on the decision of the commander or the court” (ibid., para. 44). She describes the case of the OUN leader of the Luts’k region, Mikhailo [sic] Bodnarchuk, who raped Anna Kovalchuk and infected her with syphilis. In the outcome of the OUN investigation, Kovalchuk was the one who was found guilty and shot (ibid., para. 57).


See Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism, 22.


Shkandrij describes this episode in the following way: “Although the authorities claimed that she hanged herself in her cell, this version of events was not accepted by the population, which was aware of other such ‘suicides’ under interrogation. … Protocols of her arrest and interrogation indicate that she was murdered. … Her burial was done quickly at state expense, and the funeral was not announced, a fact that led to mass protests in which Union of Ukrainian Women (Soiuz Ukrainok) took the lead. … The autopsy was initially conducted by the police with no outside representatives. … A later autopsy indicated severe beatings and torture.” Shkandrip Ukrainian Nationalism, 22.


Program and notes to organizers of a celebration of the Ol’ha Basarab holiday. “V richnytsiu smerty Ol’hy Basarab” [On the anniversary of the death of Ol’ha Basarab], 1941, publication of the OUN-B, HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 48, Ark. 343(zv). Ievhen Konovalets (1891–1938) was a highly influential figure in the nationalist movement. He was one of the founders of the Ukrainian Military Organization and became the first leader of the OUN, which he headed until his assassination in 1938. Andrii Mel’nyk (1890–1964) was a cofounder of the OUN and took over the leadership of the organization after the death of Konovalets’. He led the nationalists until the OUN’s split in 1940. Mel’nyk continued to lead OUN-M, a more moderate branch of the OUN. See Shkandrip Ukrainian Nationalism; Marples, Heroes and Villains.


“V richnytsiu smerty Ol’hy Basarab,” HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 48, Ark. 343(zv) (this and the previous quotation).


Ibid., Ark. 343(zv)-344.


Ibid., Ark. 343.


See Onyshko, “Rol’ zhinky,” 31; Petrenko, “Anatomy of the Unsaid," 252–253.


Petrenko, “Anatomy of the Unsaid,” 252–253.


Ishchuk and Ivanchenko, Zhyttievyi Shliakh Halyny Holoiad, 16.


“Rozvidka: Orhanizatsiia, rozvytok, metody” [Reconnaissance: Organization, development, and methods], March 1940, instructions of the SB OUN, HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 49, Ark. 56 (this and the previous quotation).


Ibid., Ark. 59 (this and the previous two quotations).


Ibid. This technique was not unique to the OUN. As well as training their women to seduce their targets for the nationalist cause, male OUN members also fell victim to the same approach. Jeffrey Burds argues that “spending long winters in the underground, rebel soldiers were deemed easy prey for these classic espionage ‘honeytraps.’” See Burds, “Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine,” 302. See also Havryshko, “Illegitimate Sexual Practices.”


Lesia Onyshko, “Zhinky v Ukrains’kii povstans’kii armii” [Women in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army], in Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiia inakshe (v literaturi, mystetstvi, kul’turi) [Ukrainian Insurgent Army differently (in literature, art and culture)], ed. Anastasiia Lukachova (Prague: Národní knihovna Ceské republiky, 2011), 189–195, here 192.


Burds, “Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine,” 303.


See Onyshko, “Rol’ zhinky,” 36, and Kis, “Zhinochyi dosvid,” 108.


“Rozvidka,” HDA SBU, F. 13, Spr. 376, T. 49, Ark. 7 (this and the previous quotation).


Ol’ha Il’kiv, “Providnyk Roman Shukhevych i zhinky,” 248. Banderivka or banderivets’ (a Bandera supporter) was a general (derogatory, if used by the opposing side) description of a Ukrainian nationalist (female or male, respectively).


In Kis, “Zhinochyi dosvid,” 109.


See Oleksandr Pahiria and Volodymyr Ivanchenko, eds., Diial’nist’ OUN ta UPA na terytorii tsentral’no-skhidnoi ta pivdennoi Ukrainy [The activities of the OUN and UPA on the territory of central, eastern, and southern Ukraine] (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 2011), 1042.


Yuval-Davis, Gender and Nation, 101–102.


Enloe, Maneuvers, 297 (this and the previous two quotations).


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested,” 76. See also Kis, “Zhinochyi dosvid.”


Autobiography of Sofia Lahodych, 23 December 1949, ATsDVR, F. 73, T. 1, Spr. 359.


Ibid. (this and the previous quotation).


Interviewee Il’kiv. Emphasis in speech.


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested,” 76 (this and the previous quotation).


Yuval-Davis, Nation and Gender, 97 (this and the previous quotation).


When the nationalists were suffering heavy losses in the mid-1940s the leadership undertook measures to engage more women. In these circumstances, women were even recruited into the Security Service of the OUN (Sluzhba Bezpeky), which had been depleted by casualties and arrests. This serves as evidence that women were appointed to traditionally male tasks only when the circumstances dictated this. See Burds, “Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine,” 289.


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested,” 77 (this and the previous quotation).


Enloe, Maneuvers, 289.


Dombrowski, “Soldiers, Saints, or Sacrificial Lambs?,” 31.


Kis, “National Femininity Used and Contested,” 78.


“Vitaiemo zakhysnykiv i zakhysnyts’ zi sviatomi Ukraintsi—narod-viis’ko” [Greetings to the male and female defenders! Ukrainians are an army nation], Ukrains’kyi instytut natsional’noi pam’iati [Ukrainian Institute of National Memory], 2015, para. 1, (accessed 17 October 2015).


See Maria Berlins’ka, Tamara Martsenyuk, Anna Kvit, and Ganna Grytsenko, “Nevy-dymyi batal’ion”: Uchast’ zhinok u viis’kovykh diiakh v ATO (Ukr.), “Invisible Battalion”: Women’s Participation in ATO Military Operations (Eng.), (Kyiv: Ukrainian Women’s Fund, 2016). See also Olesya Khromeychuk, “Negotiating Protest Spaces on the Maidan: A Gender Perspective," Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society 2, no. 1 (2016): 9–47; Olesya Khromeychuk, “From the Maidan to the Donbas: The Limitations on Choice for Women in Ukraine,” in Gender and Choice in the Post-Soviet Context, ed. Lynne Attwood, Marina Yusupova, and Elisabeth Schimpfoessl (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).


Enloe, Maneuvers, 298.

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Contributor Notes

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:


The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History


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