Nikitina-den Besten, O., Rozhdestvenskaya, E. and Semenova, V. (2008) Frauenbiografien und Frauenerinnerungen an den Krieg (Women's biographies and women's memories of war). In: Plato, A. v., Leh, A. and Thonfeld, C. (eds.) Hitlers Sklaven. Wien: Bohlau Verlag. pp. 273-284.
Nikitina-den Besten, O., Rozhdestvenskaya, E. and Semenova, V.
The article focuses on the experiences of Russian women - former slave labourers for the Nazi regime during WWII. Biographical interviews with these now elderly women were carried out in 2005 in Pskov. The Russian region of Pskov borders on Latvia, Estonia and Byelorussia, and was occupied by the Germans from July, 1941 to July, 1944. This resulted, in particular, in approximately 150,000 people deported from Pskov region only (out of the estimated 3 million people deported from the USSR as a whole). The article distinguishes between several categories of interviewees: women - civilians, deported to forced works from occupied territories; women subjected to the draft, who were then taken prisoners and forced to work; and finally, women who worked in occupation. The work could be in industry, construction, or agriculture. Girls often baby-sat for babies and younger children in a camp or at a farm. Themes of pre-war childhood memories, childhood labour, love during the war are also featured in the article. The article highlights the gender-specific nature of war memories. It is revealed in the way of constructing a biographical story around the souvenirs of feelings, rather than of particular events, and also constructing different gendered identities through such a story. The article also outlines the strategies of the respondents' adaptation to post-war life in the Soviet Union, where the interviewees were often repressed or stigmatised. Such biographical strategies include normalisation, compensation and hyper-compensation, and anonymisation. Besides, the article tells about narrative strategies of coping with a trauma, such as fragmentation (having gaps in the life story) and emotional detachment. These findings and the oral history material featured in the article are especially important in the context of Russia where public discourse was dominated, until recently, by the silence about people deported to Germany, and this didn't allow them to fully overcome their traumatic experiences
The full-text of the article under the URL provided is in English
Oral history and biography, slave labour, gendered memory, women and war