Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union during World War II

Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union during World War II

by Katherine R. Jolluck


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Using firsthand, personal accounts, and focusing on the experiences of women, Katherine R. Jolluck relates and examines the experiences of thousands of civilians deported to the USSR following the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland in 1939.

Upon arrival in remote areas of the Soviet Union, they were deposited in prisons, labor camps, special settlements, and collective farms, and subjected to tremendous hardships and oppressive conditions. In 1942, some 115,000 Polish citizens—only a portion of those initially exiled from their homeland—were evacuated to Iran. There they were asked to complete extensive questionnaires about their experiences.

Having read and reviewed hundreds of these documents, Jolluck reveals not only the harsh treatment these women experienced, but also how they maintained their identities as respectable women and patriotic Poles. She finds that for those exiled, the ways in which they strove to recreate home in a foreign and hostile environment became a key means of their survival.

Both a harrowing account of brutality and suffering and a clear analysis of civilian experiences in wartime, Exile and Identity expands the history of war far beyond the military battlefield.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822959502
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 09/15/2002
Series: Pitt Russian East European Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Katherine R. Jolluck is a senior lecturer in the department of history at Stanford University.

Table of Contents

Part 1"Thus Began the Wandering of the Polish People": The Background to Exile1
1."We Were Seized by Utter Despair": From Invasion to Exile3
2."The Element that Was Dangerous for 'Our Liberators'": The Women of This Study21
Part 2"After All, I Am a Polish Woman": Self-Definition through the Experience of Exile37
3."Women Were Treated the Same as Men": Labor in Exile45
4."As Long as There Is Still a Polish Woman, There Will Also Be a Polish Question": Family and Nation87
5."Homeless in Her Own Body": The Body and Sexuality142
Part 3"We Polish Women Werea Model of Unity before Their Citizens": Self-Definition through the Delineation of "Others"183
6."They Abused Our Fatherland": Coexisting with the National Minorities189
7."Barely Distinguishable from Animals": Encountering Asia220
8."You Can't Even Call Them Women": Condemning the Russians245
Selected Bibliography335

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