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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 8, 2017

The Other Half of Communism: Women's Outlook

Natalia Jarska
Pages 189-210
DOI: 10.5840/hce201789

Women Communists and the Polish Communist Party
from “Fanatic” Revolutionaries to Invisible Bureaucrats (1918-1965)

The paper aims at tracing a collective portrait and the trajectories of a group of about forty women active in the communist movement after Poland had regained independence (1918), and after the Second World War. I explore the relations between gender, communist activity, and the changing circumstances of the communist movement (conspiracy/state socialism). I argue that interwar activities shaped women communists as radical, uncompromising, and questioning traditional femininity political agents, accepted as comrades at every organisational level. This image and identity, though, contributed to the creation of the gender division of political work after the war, when women were assigned specific roles as guardians of revolutionary past. The post-war situation of state socialism with the communist party as the ruling party assigned women mainly to invisible, secondary positions.