defilade

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Meetings and defilades of the Polish organization Przysposobienie Wojskowe Kobiet [Female Military Training] in the 1930s [images via NAC].

In the autumn of 1918 Poland regained independence, which had been lost as a result of the Partitions of Poland. Soon afterwards, numerous conflicts with several neighbors started, and Polish women in many cases actively participated in them, helping the Polish Army. The most famous example is Ochotnicza Legia Kobiet (Voluntary Legion of Women), created some time in late 1918 or early 1919 in Lviv, for which Poles fought with Ukrainians. Ochotnicza Legia Kobiet also actively participated in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921 - it had around 2500 members then and after the Peace of Riga it was dissolved (in 1923). But several women, with Maria Wittek as their leader, did not want to give up. They wanted equality, also concerning military service, which, in their opinion, should have been also be available to females.

Przysposobienie Wojskowe Kobiet was created in 1928 and its members were volunteers, women and girls over 15 who wanted to prepare themselves for future military service. Enjoying support of the government and the army, the organization had several facilities, in which summer and winter camps took place.

During Polish September Campaign [1939], members of the organization distinguished themselves and the most famous personality associated with Przysposobienie Wojskowe Kobiet is undoubtedly Elżbieta Zawacka, whose activities helped the Polish Army Headquarters in London to give women of the organization same rights and privileges as those exercised by male soldiers. Females actively took part in the Home Army actions [read more here].

Women soldiers were numerous in the Warsaw Uprising and after its collapse the Germans treated them as regular soldiers, according to the Geneva Convention. [source]