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Women’s War Experience: Occupation, Forced Labor, Ostarbeiter Stigma

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Abstract. The article focuses on women’s biographies and the narratives of Soviet women-Ostarbeiter. The experience of deportation, forced labor and everyday life is reconstructed on the basis of biographical interviews with women deported for forced labor from the occupied territories, women in military service who were taken prisoner, as well as women who were forced to work during the occupation. The subject of verbalization in the collection of interviews is the pre-war period, the forced labor of children and women at work and in the countryside, silent stories of sexuality, the nature of communication and emotions in the labor camp, the dilemmas of survival in the occupation, stigmatization of Ostarbeiters at home upon the return. The article describes the typology of the reconstructed biographical strategies of the Ostarbeiter women with the help of which they tried to normalize their life path and the narrative ways of verbalizing it.

Keywords: Ostarbeiters, deportation, forced labor, female experience, everyday life, biographical interview.

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