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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Night Witches

When we think of World War II fighter pilots, we think of the brave men that sacrificed their lives for our nation. But while American women were contributing to the war effort by holding down the home front, young Soviet women in their teens and twenties were on the front lines, dropping over 23,000 tons of bombs on the enemy.
Under the command of Joseph Stalin in 1941, one regiment of female pilots and bombers began to operate under the moonlight. The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was nicknamed the "Night Witches," or Nachthexen in German, because they snuck up on the enemies in the darkness of the night and their only trace was the "whoosh" sound of a sweeping broomstick.

These women were not only young, but they also were incredibly resourceful with the old plywood and canvas airplanes they were given. Their 1928 bi-planes were slower than the stalling speed of the enemies' aircraft and came equipped with no parachutes, but that didn't keep these women from flying over 24,000 missions in their 3 years of operation. 

In the new novel Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky, one young 16-year old girl is called to duty to help take down the Nazis. Living under German threat in Stalingrad, this thrilling book follows the reality that many young pilots faced as the first women to ever fly in combat in history.

My personal favorite part of the story is the fierce feminism that these women displayed. They may have decorated their aircraft with flowers and had to borrow old men's uniforms, yet, the German airforce feared these women so much that they automatically were awarded an Iron Cross for shooting down a Night Witch. 

If you want to learn more about this enticing story of leading females in history, make sure to check out Night Witches to read it for yourself. Comment what you think of it once you're done, and enjoy!

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

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