Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today -100: June 11, 1917: Of the Women’s Battalion of Death

Russian War Minister Kerensky’s wife Olga enlists in the Women’s Battalion of Death. This isn’t actually true, but I believe this is the first NYT mention of the Battalion, which was ordered formed last month, although women have been allowed to serve in the regular army for a couple of years (each one had to be individually approved by the czar). The efficacy of those soldiers, combined with the lobbying of “Yashka” Boshkareva, a semi-literate peasant soldier, and the idea of embarrassing male soldiers into resuming active military operations, led the Provisional Government to create several of these units. Being all-volunteer meant they were more gung ho than the male conscripts, who were not in fact embarrassed into fighting or into backing up the battalions or holding positions the female units captured. Boshkareva fell afoul of the Bolsheviks and was executed in 1920. There’s a recent okay, by-the-numbers Russian movie on the Battalion.

The Swedish Riksdag rejects women’s suffrage.

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