Excerpt from Selected Articles and Speeches, Progress Publishers, 1984
by Alexandra Kollontai
Russian revolutionary leader
The women who took part in the Great October Revolution – who were they? Isolated individuals? No, there were hosts of them; tens, hundreds of thousands of nameless heroines who, marching side by side with the workers and peasants behind the Red Flag and the slogan of the Soviets, passed over the ruins of tsarist theocracy into a new future...
If one looks back into the past, one can see them, these masses of nameless heroines whom October found living in starving cities, in impoverished villages plundered by war... A scarf on their head (very rarely, as yet, a red kerchief), a worn skirt, a patched winter jacket... Young and old, women workers and soldiers’ wives peasant women and housewives from among the city poor. More rarely, much more rarely in those days, office workers and women in the professions, educated and cultured women. But there were also women from the intelligentsia among those who carried the Red Flag to the October victory – teachers, office employees, young students at high schools and universities, women doctors. They marched cheerfully, selflessly, purposefully. They went wherever they were sent. To the front? They put on a soldier’s cap and became fighters in the Red Army. If they put on red arm-bands, then they were hurrying off to the first-aid stations to help the Red front against Kerensky at Gatchina. They worked in army communications. They worked cheerfully, filled with the belief that something momentous was happening, and that we are all small cogs in the one class of revolution.
In the villages, the peasant women (their husbands had been sent off to the front) took the land from the landowners and chased the aristocracy out of