In the midst of violence and animosity, romance was a common denominator between all opposing sides. However, the traditional idea of ‘forever’ was foreign and the knowledge that they may never see each other ever again made wartime love even more appealing in such dark times. The 1940’s reintroduced the diminishment of traditional gender roles, courting and mating. Romance challenged the socialist movement that was to have made traditional gender roles antiquated. The men were to fight for their wives and lovers, while women depended on the marital valor of their men. The belief of full-scale mobilization of men to the frontline and women in leading roles at factories, kolkhozes and in the family, was common during war efforts. With such violence and terror occurring on the home front, the concept of constructing courtships and romance gave living a whole new meaning.
Not only did the idea of ‘newfound’ romance influence the reintroduction of gender roles, it also presented itself through Soviet music, films and poems. Konstantin Simonov was a playwright and wartime correspondent that established a voice of love and emotion that made an impression on millions. While covering the catastrophic retreat of the summer of 1941 from the front lines, he wrote “Wait for Me“. It became a powerful message about a solider in war asking his beloved one to wait for his return. The power of the message conferred throughout the poem presented a real-life conversation that many soldiers and their significant others were experiencing during wartime. The poem became, and remains, one of the best-known poems in Russian literature. Klavdiia Shulzhenko was a strong women and artist, breaking the barriers for women during wartime. She inspired the Soviet Union with her songs “Blue Scarf” and “Let’s Have a Smoke”. Shulzhenko voluntarily joined the ranks with her husband, preforming in trenches and under bomb shelters. The two gave people the hope for victory and love. They exhibited positivity and reinforced the importance of love, destined to enter the history of the heroic defense of wartime efforts.
With all things comes consequences, especially romance. The state and society quickly recognized the implications that ‘love’ was leaving. In the early 1930’s the Soviet Union attempted to reinforce the importance of family life. However, the need to bear soldiers and workers resulted in the incline of illegitimate births. The abrupt population drop from the previous decade forced the state to acknowledge unwed mothers. Eventually a tax was introduced that taxed families that were childless. The need for healthy men were high and the state was willing to give rewards to the families that provided such for them. But above all, nothing could be of aid to those grieving from losing a loved one. While love played a positive role during wartime it negatively impacted so just as equally. It built up society’s spirits and tore them down just as fast. It was simply a concept that could change an individuals life, forever.
In fact, all was not fair in love and war.