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Old January 11th, 2013, 08:58 AM   #1

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Mass rape in Soviet occupation 1944-48'


I believe, have been taught, have read, that between 10,000- 2,000,000 women were raped by the Red Army in their advance to topple Nazi Germany. Obviously numbers will vary, but, does anyone doubt that something horrible like this, on a huge scale, took place? Whatever the reasons were, revenge,anger, hatred etc. this in my mind is still a tragedy. I thought this was all common knowledge, until I was questioned the other day, someone asked me my sources. Thoughts?
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:10 AM   #2

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This is a sensitive issue, Anthony Beevor stirred up a hornet's nest by tackling it in his book about the fall of Berlin:
'They raped every German female from eight to 80' | Books | The Guardian
There is no doubt that rape was committed on a massive scale without any serious effort being made to suppress it. I have heard quite a bit about what went on from people who have talked with Germans who were in Berlin in at the time.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:14 AM   #3

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From Neil Ascherson' review of Beevor's book:

"Beevor’s book has two subjects: the close detail of the fighting (with its beribboned protagonists), but also the fate of the German population in the conquered territories and in Berlin itself. It is the second theme which has made the book into a sensation, above all in Germany. This is because it deals painstakingly with the mass rape of German women by the Red Army. An old estimate by the Berlin hospitals put the figure at 100,000 women, with perhaps ten thousand deaths, mostly suicides. That presumably referred to Greater Berlin. But Beevor accepts that ‘altogether at least two million German women’ were raped, ‘a substantial minority’ suffering multiple or gang rape. As often happens with revelations about the German past, a good many others had written about all this already without provoking uproar. There have been published memoirs and diaries, and the subject has always been accessible in Berlin conversations. It took an American TV soap finally to jolt Germans into tearful admissions about the Jewish Holocaust. In much the same way, Beevor’s account, probably because it emanated from abroad, released a new willingness to confront the subject of rape.

Less notice was taken of Beevor’s effort to organise the rape narrative into phases, and to venture a little way into the dark wood of explanations. Rightly, I think, he dismisses the idea that Soviet hate propaganda and the vengeful war-verse of Ilya Ehrenburg had much to do with it. The hate was there already, and Beevor sees it expressed in the horrible atrocities committed in the first East Prussian villages reached by Soviet troops when they crossed the German frontier. There, gang-rape was accompanied by mutilation and murder; the naked, crucified women found by German counter-attack forces were filmed by the Nazis and stiffened the will to fight on. As the war progressed, however, Beevor identifies a second phase: the sadism grew rarer, and soldiers simply helped themselves to German women with a casual minimum of force, as if they were looting a bottle of cognac or grabbing a civilian’s bicycle. Now the rapist (Frau, komm!) might unpredictably offer his victim an endearment, or a piece of sausage. A third phase, in occupied places where all supply had broken down, replaced the need for guns and violence with the need of starving women to bargain their bodies for food. In a fourth, according to Beevor, women were able to keep their families alive and secure themselves against further rape by setting up ‘occupation wife’ arrangements with individual soldiers or officers.

All this information was available to anyone who went looking for it, but looking was discouraged. Even though Stalinism was abominable, who wanted to tarnish the reputation of the simple Russian soldiers who saved Europe from Hitler? But since the resurgence of gang-rape by irregular troops in Bosnia, attitudes have changed. The world now admits what professional soldiers have known since Roman times – that armed men have a strong inclination to rape ‘enemy’ women – and wants to know why.

Beevor suggests that it is something to do with a male instinct to scatter seed as widely as possible. If true, that does not help much. He is nearer the mark with a reference to ‘bonding’: military gang-rape can be a sort of comforting oath-ritual among men frightened by what they have already done. My own sense (in Beevor’s phase two) is less esoteric: soldiers rape for sex. Frightened men violently force their way into a place which, for a few moments, they can pretend to be the place where they are loved and protected.

But disciplined soldiers should not rape. Living under the second-worst tyranny on earth, shovelled into the furnace like so many tons of coke by their callous commanders, subject to instant arrest and execution by NKVD and Smersh security troops following the front line, these soldiers were anything but cowed. (Anyone who has met both Soviet and American troops on active service will remember that – paradoxically – Red Army men were far more individualistic and spontaneous in their behaviour.) They could be suicidally brave, but they were instinctively disobedient, making their own judgments on which orders to take seriously. Being shot out of hand for raping or looting was a risk plenty of them chose to take. On capturing a German position, they would go for the wristwatches (‘Uri! Uri!’) as swiftly as for the weapons. Anything remotely portable – tools, leather cut off a German sofa, even window glass – would be scrawled with an indelible-pencil address and posted home to Russia. They were drunk much of the time. Their transport columns looked like circus caravans: Primo Levi, after the victory, watched camels towing yellow Berlin buses across the Ural steppe into Asia."

from here: Neal Ascherson reviews
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:18 AM   #4

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It's interestingly Germans do not write about these rapes. While Americans and Britons have written a heap of books about these hypothetical rapes. Is this the inferiority complex?
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:21 AM   #5

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IIRC, Traudl Junge (Hitler's secretary) said that she and other escapees from the Fuhrerbunker were raped. One of the party (the cook) was taken into a tunnel by two Soviet soldiers and never seen again. Of course, that's anecdotal, it isn't, in itself, evidence of mass rape.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:25 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potap View Post
It's interestingly Germans do not write about these rapes. While Americans and Britons have written a heap of books about these hypothetical rapes. Is this the inferiority complex?
How do you know that Germans don't write books about this topic? Have you done any research leading to such conclusion? And nobody has any ideals about the Soviet state, its army and their behaviour at all.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:37 AM   #7

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Quote:
It's interestingly Germans do not write about these rapes. While Americans and Britons have written a heap of books about these hypothetical rapes. Is this the inferiority complex?
There is plenty of German literature about the matter, mainly of an academic sort I think (since this is such a painful sibject), e.g.
Helke Sander & Barbara Johr (eds.), Befreier und Befreite: Krieg, Verwaltigungen, Kinder (Munich, 1992)
And as I have indicated above, people who got to know Germans in Berlin after the war heard all about this (as I know myself from hearing from people from my own family who served in the British forces in Germany after the war).
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #8
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it occured not only in Germany, there were mass rapes in other Soviet occupied countries too, including Hungary. I was quite surprised that even in Yugoslavia there were over a thousand reported rapes commited by Soviet army despite only small part of Yugo was under Soviet occupation (and only for short time) and Yugoslavia was allied to the SU and it was one of the reasons why SU-Yugoslav relations started to detoriate. Of course few people dared to go to the authorities to complain about rapes in general so to be able to estimate the real numbers, statistics on abortions and increased number of patients with sexually transmitted diseases also have to be considered.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #9

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How do you know that Germans don't write books about this topic? Have you done any research leading to such conclusion? And nobody has any ideals about the Soviet state, its army and their behaviour at all.
But I see how Britons and Americans are anxious with these rapes. Probably because: "Sylvester Michelfelder, the lutheran pastor, wrote in " Christian Century " « Crowds of unpunished gangsters in the English and American uniform plundered trains. Women and girls were raped in public. They were forced to walk naked ». John DOS Passos in the magazine " Life " from January, 7, 1946 quotes « the red-cheeked major », said « lewdness, whisky and a robbery - are the awards of a soldier ». One military man wrote in magazine " Time " from November, 12, 1945: « Many normal American families would be horrified, if they'd learn about uttermost insensibility to all humans " our guys " behaved here ». an so on. Here: - 1945.


Certainly the American magazines do not write it now. It is easier to write a bosh about Russians. Though chiefs of fronts have signed orders about shooting soldier for marauding and rapes.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:51 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by Tulun View Post
it occured not only in Germany, there were mass rapes in other Soviet occupied countries too, including Hungary. I was quite surprised that even in Yugoslavia there were over a thousand reported rapes commited by Soviet army despite only small part of Yugo was under Soviet occupation (and only for short time) and Yugoslavia was allied to the SU and it was one of the reasons why SU-Yugoslav relations started to detoriate. Of course few people dared to go to the authorities to complain about rapes in general so to be able to estimate the real numbers, statistics on abortions and increased number of patients with sexually transmitted diseases also have to be considered.
May be because Hungarians raped in Soviet Union too. Old men recollect Hungarians were even more cruel than Germans as occupants here.
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