Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten Mahn‑ und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück

‘In the service of the wounded and sick’: Female Red Army medical staff in combat and captivity

[Translate to English:] Rotarmistinnen im KZ Ravensbrück

During World War II, more than 800,000 Soviet women served in the Red Army. Female soldiers who were directly involved in combat achieved particular international renown. The night bomber pilots known as ‘night witches’ and the female snipers are the most extraordinary examples of female participation in the war.

But more than half of these women worked in the medical service of the Soviet armed forces. They accounted for 41 per cent of the frontline doctors and 100 per cent of the nursing staff. Those near the front performed their duties under especially difficult conditions and in constant mortal danger. Military medical personnel were second only to the infantry in terms of the number of combat losses.

The bilingual exhibition explores this gender-specific aspect of military service. The first section outlines the long tradition of female medical personnel who nursed and cared for war casualties in Russia, a history reaching back to the mid-19th century. The second section focuses on World War II and particularly highlights the fate of female physicians held as POWs by the Germans. The last section presents profiles of ten female doctors and nurses held as POWs in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Exhibition developed by the Ravensbrück Memorial in cooperation with the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst. Sponsored by the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation. With the friendly support of the Military Medical Museum, Saint Petersburg.