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Thread: Rape at the end of World War II

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    Default Rape at the end of World War II

    Have been reading a lot about the ending of the war in the east. The heroic part of course is the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of the camps. However, it was accompanied by horrific violence against the populations of Poland and Germany, including mass rapes. Solzhenitsyn witnessed some of what happened and wrote the following harrowing poem about a scene he came upon. The mother of the dead child apparently begged the Soviets to kill her.


    The little daughter’s on the mattress, Dead.
    How many have been on it
    A platoon, a company perhaps?
    A girl’s been turned into a woman,
    A woman turned into a corpse.
    It's all come down to simple phrases:
    Do not forget!
    Do not forgive!
    Blood for blood!
    A tooth for a tooth!



    Rape was also prevalent among some of the other allied troops but not to the same scale as in the east. It was clear that the Germans were seen as fair game for anything by the victorious armies and of course they have had little historical sympathy given the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Nor was it something that was part of public discourse in Germany for decades afterwards. With Douglas' book on the deportations of Germans and recent work on what happened to German women and children in particular, history is only beginning to examine what took place.

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    Politics.ie Member Clanrickard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seanie Lemass View Post
    Have been reading a lot about the ending of the war in the east. The heroic part of course is the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of the camps. However, it was accompanied by horrific violence against the populations of Poland and Germany, including mass rapes. Solzhenitsyn witnessed some of what happened and wrote the following harrowing poem about on scene he came upon. The mother of the dead child apparently begged the Soviets to kill her.


    The little daughter’s on the mattress, Dead.
    How many have been on it
    A platoon, a company perhaps?
    A girl’s been turned into a woman,
    A woman turned into a corpse.
    It's all come down to simple phrases:
    Do not forget!
    Do not forgive!
    Blood for blood!
    A tooth for a tooth!



    Rape was also prevalent among some of the other allied troops but not to the same scale as in the east. It was clear that the Germans were seen as fair game for anything by the victorious armies and of course they have had little historical sympathy given the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Nor was it something that was part of public discourse in Germany for decades afterwards. With Douglas' book on the deportations of Germans and recent work on what happened to German women and children in particular, history is only beginning to examine what took place.
    Stalin allegedly said "let them have some fun". I think it was after Bosnia that mass rape was declared to be a war crime. Sadly too late for millions of poor German women.

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    Politics.ie Member flavirostris's Avatar
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    The North African Goumiers ( French Colonial troops ) also had a notorious reputation for mass rape in Italy.

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    A film version of A Woman In Berlin



    A Woman in Berlin (German: Eine Frau in Berlin) is an autobiographical account of the period from 20 April to 22 June 1945 in Berlin (Battle of Berlin). At the author's request, the work was published anonymously for her protection. The book purports to detail the writer's experiences as a rape victim during the Red Army occupation of the city. Two years after her death in 2003 the anonymous author was identified in the Süddeutsche Zeitung by Jens Bisky (a German literary editor) as Marta Hillers. Brisky said that Hillers was a journalist who worked on magazines and newspapers during the Nazi era, and who had also been a small-time propagandist for the Third Reich writing a navy recruiting brochure, but that she was probably not a member of the Nazi Party.
    A Woman in Berlin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Politics.ie Member sauntersplash's Avatar
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    Alright, don't pick me up wrong here, rape is obviously an unthinkably horrific crime, but in comparison to regularly carpet bombing entire urban civilian populations...it doesn't seem like the worst thing that could have happened.

    I say this to try to highlight the fact that war changes the rules of civilisation, utterly.
    "No." - Rosa Parks

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    The Soviet savages were not signatories to the Geneva convention.
    ..the Irish nation can become other than white, by privileging the voices of the racialised and subverting state immigration but also integration policies. – Ronit Lentin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clanrickard View Post
    Stalin allegedly said "let them have some fun". I think it was after Bosnia that mass rape was declared to be a war crime. Sadly too late for millions of poor German women.

    There is conflicting evidence about Stalin. When some Polish communists, I think, wrote to him to complain he said something on the lines of "oh, well thats the sort of things soldiers do." The Red Army did issue strict orders regarding rape and theft but the practise, according to former soldiers was that for the first three days occupying a place they could do as they wished.

    One of the saddest aspects of it all is that gangs of liberated prisoners were among those who were engaged in rape and pillage. An awful time. The horror certainly didn't end with the war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seanie Lemass View Post
    Have been reading a lot about the ending of the war in the east. The heroic part of course is the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of the camps. However, it was accompanied by horrific violence against the populations of Poland and Germany, including mass rapes. Solzhenitsyn witnessed some of what happened and wrote the following harrowing poem about a scene he came upon. The mother of the dead child apparently begged the Soviets to kill her.


    The little daughter’s on the mattress, Dead.
    How many have been on it
    A platoon, a company perhaps?
    A girl’s been turned into a woman,
    A woman turned into a corpse.
    It's all come down to simple phrases:
    Do not forget!
    Do not forgive!
    Blood for blood!
    A tooth for a tooth!



    Rape was also prevalent among some of the other allied troops but not to the same scale as in the east. It was clear that the Germans were seen as fair game for anything by the victorious armies and of course they have had little historical sympathy given the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Nor was it something that was part of public discourse in Germany for decades afterwards. With Douglas' book on the deportations of Germans and recent work on what happened to German women and children in particular, history is only beginning to examine what took place.
    Not exactly the first time women have been glossed over in the histories of war. War is a masculine narrative, and follows the conventions of masculine narrative, one of which is the implied fate of the loser's women. Implied, but not discussed, because not truly important.
    Never let the best be the enemy of the good.

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    Politics.ie Member H.R. Haldeman's Avatar
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    Isn't it extraordinary that rape was this enormous war crime that went on in every war for centuries, and yet history books and scholarship were close on silent about it until the last decade or so? It'd be akin to historians simply not recording the use of bombs or tanks or trenches. Or concentration camps. The mind boggles at what the Red Army got up to in Germany and Poland in the immediate post-war period.

    Laurence Rees' follow-up to his masterpiece Nazis: A Warning from History, which was called War of the Century and documented war in the east, was one of the first times I became aware of just how profound and prevalent a war crime rape was. Terrorism is probably a good word for it.

    That series, from 1999, is available on Youtube: War of the Century 1of 4 HD - YouTube

    It's not as well known as Rees' Nazi's, but in many ways more terrifying. I can't exactly recall which episode documents the prevalence of rape as a war crime, but it's only 4 episodes and worth watching in any event.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sauntersplash View Post
    Alright, don't pick me up wrong here, rape is obviously an unthinkably horrific crime, but in comparison to regularly carpet bombing entire urban civilian populations...it doesn't seem like the worst thing that could have happened.

    I say this to try to highlight the fact that war changes the rules of civilisation, utterly.
    I understand what you are trying to say, but each evil is an evil whole and entire. Be careful not to succumb to moral relativism.

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