Feature / Stand By / I reminisce and cry for life by Agnieszka Rayss

I was portraying women – veterans of the Second World War. I was inspired by Svetlana Alekseyevich’s book War’s Unwomanly Face. The heroines of my story were all active participants of the war. They are “Heroes of the Nation”. All these women of different nationalities were fighting in World War II for their homeland. The war was difficult for them. They were very young when it started (16-18) and had to learn plenty of things that were necessary in wartime. They were nurses, truck drivers, worked in communications, were partisans. Most of them went to the army as volunteers to defend their homeland. They had to fight and share the same difficult living conditions as men soldiers. Soviet and post-Soviet propaganda didn’t forget them. They were awarded medals and prizes, and declared “Heroes of the Nation”. They took part in parades, were invited to schools to talk about the heroic times of war. They looked strange surrounded by men heroes, but there was equality between men and women in the USSR, so no-one could forbid them to be heroes… Now the old ladies I met are at the end of their lives. Belarus is their home. A lot of them miss the Soviet Union. They don’t understand why the empire collapsed.