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UNKNOWN HEROINES OF THE WORLD WAR I

28.07.2014

We are living in a time of "short memory" when we remembered the significant and great people and events only when there are anniversaries and celebrations, so approximately once in 100 years. There is no more or less responsibility for this, the responsibility lies in all of us, because "repetition is the mother of knowledge."


On this day we will all write down and remember, revive memories and send messages that we should not forget those who marked the most important part of our history, or perhaps the most tragic one. And it is certain that we will do it for the next four years, because a centenary from this period will be marked. However, it is important to remember them every day and to learn from the examples of those who had contributed to have what we do today.


It is certain that we will remind ourselves of heroes and army leaders who have led the nation in this war. We will remember Živojin Mišić, Stepa Stepanović, Radomir Putnik, Petar Bojović, who deserve enormous merit for their contribution, but still they died forgotten by the state which they fought for.


For that reason on this day I would like to remind of women who actively participated in the Great War, because, unfortunately, they mainly stayed out of political speeches. They certainly deserve their spot in history, because they carried a significant burden of this war. We know of those who we are talking about, and because of that let’s not allow oblivion and carelessness to reduce the role of women in that period to minimum.


The World War I brought a huge number of victims in the whole world, and Serbia lost more than 60 percent of the male population, while more than half of a million Serbian children became orphans. Without disregarding the horror and number of killed men during the World War I, we need to tell the female story as well and to break the prejudices and stereotypes which are still following the woman of the 21st century.


The Great War has stopped the process of modernization in our country, but its morbid circumstances, both here and abroad, gave women a new chance and opportunity to express themselves in some new tasks. In such a historical situation women not only fought in the front lines, looked after and healed the wounded, but they also stayed and took care of the household in an occupied country. Women took roles and tasks that have been denied to them throughout the in the pincers of gender prejudges. It is impossible to adequately evaluate for which group of women was the most difficult during World War I.


In accordance with the value system of that time, women were not allowed and it was not socially acceptable to access military or participates in military operations. Still, women found ways to enter the troops, carrying male’s clothes and taking male names. The ones who are remembered because they fought equally with man at the front and to the Iron Regiment are Milunka Savic and Flora Sands. But we must also not forget Sofija Jovanović, Ljubica Čakarević, Antonija Javornik (Natalija Bjelajac) and other women who fought shoulder to shoulder with their brothers in arms.


Most distinguished female citizens, included in the work of various organizations, such as the Circle of Serbian Sisters, helped the army, the wounded and civilians across the country and abroad. Among others these are Delfa Ivanić, Kasija Miletić, Mirka Grujić, and others. Together with the other women they took an active role as nurses on the front lines, but they also worked in occupied territories. In the same time they organized acceptance of Serbian wounded and refugees in the countries that had possibilities for that. The sacrifices that each of these women gave is immeasurable, and some of them lost their lives during the war, such as Ljubica Luković, the President of the Circle of Serbian Sisters and Nadežda Petrović, a famous painter, who died of typhus fever.


Among the various missions that operated in Serbia during that period, the Hospital of Scottish Women stands out in particular. It sent a large number of voluntary female doctors and nurses to Serbia, whose heroic acts and courage still live in Serbian nation. Many members of the hospital were rtereated across Albania together with Serbian people and army in 1915., and they joined the Serbian army next year on the Salonika front. Some of those who left their mark are Elsie Inglis, Baroness Evelina Haverfield Edit Halloway, Harriet Kokberi, Ella Singh, eight Russian Merciful Sisters - Maria Stepanovna, Athanasia Markovna, Maria Sergejevskaja, Ana Istomina, Pelagia Feodorovna, Tatjana Beliponova, Natalija Berlacekova and Kuova as well as many others that history unfortunately has not remembered.


The women from other countries were also not far behind when it comes to helping the Serbian army and people, and they were too e transporting aid, collecting money to send to Serbia, or personally coming to help the Serbian people. Among others these are Aleksandra Hartvig, Baroness Grizinger, Lady Leila Paget, Mabel Grujic, Lady Isabel Hutton.


In the hinterland of battle fronts, women with children and elderly women stayed in their households, trying to maintain life, land and production. It seems that rural women carried one of the greatest burdens of daily life under occupation. Being left almost entirely without male labor force, rural women did most of the hard physical work. Although the life was filled with superhuman physical effort, fear and uncertainty, the new position which rural women took in the patriarchal circle brought certain social liberation. By taking new types of responsibility, the position of rural women in traditional communal family started to slowly changing. The Rural women were one of the most common victims of war crimes in the occupied territories.


The role of women in the First World War is often socially invisible, ignored or, in the best case, taken for granted. It turned out that their military engagement of women didn’t have far-reaching consequences on the larger issue of gender equality, and it is often referred to as the "temporary emancipation". However, a hundred years ago, women torn down stereotypes of being only good housewife’s and nurses and during World War I demonstrated their true strength and skills, breaking down prejudices of them as the weaker gender.

 


Events and anniversaries sometimes aren’t bad for awakening, but also as power and support for some of the next steps. However, if we want to avoid repeating mistakes, and be worthy of our ancestors, we have to cherish our tradition and to take the most precious of it.

The question of how many heroines in the region the history has forgotten before World War I, during the Balkan wars, and even earlier remains, but we are here to prevent for even more of them to be forgotten , names such as Milica, Jovanka, Milena, Marija, Milunka, Sofija…

 

Svetlana Stefanović


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marko nikolic  -  
19.06.2017 15:09
samo vi nama kazite u brojevima koliko je zena poginulo. muskarci su izgubili 60%.da li vi shvatate koliko je to. da je toliko zena poginuo vi bi svaki boziji dan spominjali to. ali posto su muskarci onda je marginalno. ja sam za ravnopravnost, sl put kad izbije rat u borbene redove i zene. pola pola. ali ne na komandujuce pozicije i zadnju liniju vec na prvu liniju fronta. pa da osetite lepotu ravnopravnosti divnog muskog sveta.

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