Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


War's unwomanly face by Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich has interviewed countless people during many years, to describe the soul of the Soviet Union, in her series "Voices from the Big Utopia". She received the Nobel price in literature in 2015. In this book, two hundred women speaks of the time during the war. How they fought the enemy, how they rescued wounded soldiers, and how they themselves fired sniper’s rifle, bombed and killed. They had learned to hate, but even during the darkest of times, their hearts loved, and they saved not only their own, but German soldiers as well. Svetlana Alexievich collects these stories and makes art.

This book really affected me. It feels like I have been there, at the front, among the soldiers. 
Together, they make a choir of voices, and I wonder whether it’s easier to understand the reality of that time from one single person’s testimony, or through the fabric of many memories. The book is full of strong voices that have been silent for forty years. It was time the emotional shards, the human destinies, were told.

This is not a hero book. This book is not focusing on the winning of the war, but on the reality during and after the war. The women's stories are colorful. They remembered feelings and details, and they never stopped appreciating beauty and art. Some refused to change from their dresses, others slept with their earrings, while yet others slept while sitting up to be able to wear hats as long as possible. Because, in daytime, everything that was considered female was forbidden.

Surprisingly many young women volunteered to fight at the front. At a very young age, they convinced their parents to be allowed to participate, or escaped from their homes to join the army and be sent to the front. The loyalty to their country was immense, and more important than their families. It was not only the young girls dreams. Some of the parents even wanted their young daughters to join the army. It's difficult to understand their enormous devotion. Their team spirit and companionship. It's a big difference between communism and today's individualism, and it's interesting to learn about a totally different perspective of live.

One might think that women’s part of the war indicates some gender equality, but even though women were allowed to join the army, the men treated them far from equal, and used all kinds of excuses to justify their behavior. Their view of these women became very clear after the war, when many of them didn't want to marry a woman soldier, and even despised them. Half a million women sacrificed everything, and when returning from the war, they were forgotten. And while the male soldiers were received as heroes, the female soldiers were viewed as unfeminine and unattractive. I want to remember everyone. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel like I owe them that. They have been alone with their feelings for a very long time, abandoned by the society after the war. The least I can do is to listen to them, and remember them. She who made herself a white dress of a German parachute and married her love before a battle. She who let her daughter carry a bomb. She who drowned her own baby to not be found by the German soldiers. She who kissed her husband for the very last time. She who gave the enemy bread. She who was captured and tortured. She who still can’t handle the color red. She who came home and realized her child didn’t recognize her. She who returned home and found her own grave. And many more.

They all deserve to be remembered. This book makes them as invincible and immortal as they once were.

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