World War II exhibit focuses on women
By SARAH BETANCOURT
The terrors of World War II impacted most of the world’s women, both on the home and battlefronts.
A new exhibition opening Friday and running through Oct. 7 at the International Museum of World War II highlights just that – the important and sometimes unconventional roles women took on during the war.
“It’s about the human story,” founder Kenneth Rendell explains. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase and honor women’s service to the war effort.”
“Women in WWII: On the Home Fronts and the Battlefronts” is composed of more than 100 artifacts from the U.S., Soviet Union, Germany, Japan, France and Great Britain.
For many women, wartime was about more than rationing food for their families.
In the Soviet Union, 400,000 women drafted as “Red Army girls” filled roles as doctors and even snipers. One photograph shows paranurses jumping out of a plane into a war zone, strapped with medical supplies to save wounded soldiers.
Kathryn Bernheim became one of 27 American women chosen by the Army Air Force in 1942 to ferry planes in the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Service program. As a civilian with more than 1,000 hours of flight experience, Bernheim flew aircraft such as the P-47 Thunderbolt, relieving men for combat flying until politics ended the program in 1944. The exhibit showcases her flight jacket, dress uniform and a photo of a smiling Bernheim looking at a map.
On the homefront, many women took over jobs previously held by men. A 1945 photo shows 24-year-old stenographer Fern Corbett washing a window 10 floors above a Minneapolis street.