Women soldiers and women prisoners: Oral testimonies of Ruta Czaplińska and Elżbieta Zawacka
In this essay I present the stories of two women soldiers, Elżbieta Zawacka and Ruta Czaplińska, involved in the Second World War struggle who stepped out of the roles traditionally attributed to Polish women. Both were soldiers, both engaged in the anti-Communist activities after the war, and both suffered imprisonment for their actions. In the essay, I try to show how differently these two women constructed their life stories. While Zawacka saw herself as a soldier who was always determined, Czaplińska’s story is full of doubts, sadness, and reflection. I hope that these oral stories reveal how within one culture and similar set of values, defined by devotion to Poland, there is space for various models of women’s engagement.