Crimes Unspoken

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-02-26
  • Publisher: Polity Pr
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The soldiers who occupied Germany after the Second World War were not only liberators: they also brought with them a new threat, as women throughout the country became victims of sexual violence. In this disturbing and carefully researched book, the historian Miriam Gebhardt reveals for the first time the scale of this human tragedy, which continued long after the hostilities had ended.

Discussion in recent years of the rape of German women committed at the end of the war has focused almost exclusively on the crimes committed by Soviet soldiers, but Gebhardt shows that this picture is misleading. Crimes were committed as much by the Western Allies – American, French and British – as by the members of the Red Army. Nor was the suffering limited to the immediate aftermath of the war. Gebhardt powerfully recounts how raped women continued to be the victims of doctors, who arbitrarily granted or refused abortions, welfare workers, who put pregnant women in homes, and wider society, which even today prefers to ignore these crimes.

Crimes Unspoken is the first historical account to expose the true extent of sexual violence in Germany at the end of the war, offering valuable new insight into a key period of 20th century history.

Author Biography

Miriam Gebhardt is an historian and journalist who teaches at the University of Konstanz.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Seventy years too late
Wrong victims?
How many were affected
Sexual aggression against men
A word about method

Chapter 2 Berlin and the East – chronicle of a calamity foretold
The great fear
The Red Army comes
One year on
Extracts from police reports
A different perspective

Chapter 3 South Germany – who will protect us from the Americans?
No one’s time
Moderate indignation
 A ‘feeling of great insecurity among our soldiers’
A ‘sexual conquest of Europe’?
Unbroken assertion of power by the occupiers
Parallels and differences

Chapter 4 Pregnant, sick, ostracized – approaches to the victims
Victims twice over
The abortion problem
No one’s children
‘The other victims are also taken care of’
First the French, then the public authorities
‘I love this child as much as the others’

Chapter 5 The long shadow
The effects of the experience of violence
The myth of female invulnerability
‘Anonymous’ and the censorship of memory
Duties of loyalty
First feminist protests
Helke Sander’s ‘BeFreier’ and the German victim debate
The past today

Sources and selected literature

Supplemental Materials

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