The most conspicuous innovation, which began in earnest in the summer of 1942, was the recruitment of young women. In the first weeks of the war women had been discouraged from applying for active service roles. But a labor shortage everywhere, at the front line and in the factories, changed everything. That summer, the military expressed itself keen to recruit "healthy young girls." To some extent the idea was to shame the men into greater effort. The other goal was to make civilian women more effective, to shame them, too, into working long hours in armament plants or on the farms. Either way, some 800,000 women would serve at the front during the war. Smirks and official condescension followed them. Unlike the men, they found it hard to fit their bodies into the heroic mold, to see themselves as warriors. There had been women at the front in Russia’s other wars, but never on this scale.
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