*Several* Woman to Know: The Night Witches
|Julia Carpenter||Apr 20, 2016|
There was no time to give away to emotions. — Nadheza Popova, Night Witch
(Image via Vanity Fair)
It all started with Marina Raskova. The legendarily talented Soviet flight commander knew the Allied forces in World War II needed more manpower in the sky — or rather, more womanpower. If they were to defeat the Germans, she argued publicly, the Allies needed female pilots.
And Stalin listened (Stalin!!!). He gave Marina the OK to create the first all-female flight regiment. The women flew antiquated biplanes on more than 25,000 European missions. But what's more — they were really good at their jobs. The Nazi pilots so feared them that they give them their notorious nickname: "The Night Witches." Flip through the obituaries published for many of the most awarded Night Witches — many remembered their air-time accomplishments with extraordinary insight. "We had an enemy in front of us," Nadezha Popova once told an interviewer. "We had to prove we were stronger, and more prepared."
But Marina was most proud of another distinction: the three "Night Witch" regiments remained entirely staffed by only women throughout the duration of the War, even as multiple male pilots asked to join their decorated cadre.
But no, Marina assured them, this was woman's work.
Add to your reading list:
A Dance with Death: Soviet Airwomen in World War II (Anne Noggle)
The little-known story of the "Night Witches" (Vanity Fair)
Meet the Truly Scary, Amazing "Witches" of World War II (Refinery 29)
The female fighter pilots of World War II (The Atlantic)
Nadheza Popova, World War II "Night Witch" (The New York Times)
The "night witch" who carried out hundreds of bombing raids (The Daily Mail)
Adventures in Feministory: The Night Witches (Bitch Media)
The lethal Soviet "night witches" (Mental Floss)
The Night Witches (Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast)
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