Rape, War, and Outrage: Changing Perceptions on German Victimhood in the Period of Post-Unification

TitleRape, War, and Outrage: Changing Perceptions on German Victimhood in the Period of Post-Unification
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCohen-Pfister, Laurel
EditorWienröder-Skinner, Dagmar, and Laurel Cohen-Pfister
Book TitleVictims and Perpetrators, 1933-1945: (Re)presenting the Past in Post-Unification Culture
Pagination316-336
PublisherW. de Gruyter
CityBerlin; New York
Abstract

The trend in cultural, official, and public discourse shows that dissecting the victim and perpetrator roles of the German past grows increasingly insistent in the evolving and complex process of "normalization." The author's inquiry into public and academic discourse on the wartime rape of German women traces the development in positions on German suffering and guilt in the post-unification period. Using two texts that portray the rapes, the film BeFreier und Befreite and the anonymous diary Eine Frau in Berlin, whose reception spans the post-unification period from the beginning to the present, the author outlines to what degree the wartime rape of German women figures in the contemporary rendering of German history and of a national self-understanding. Reaction to the representation of the rapes has ranged from fears of revisionist history in the early 1990s to the embracing of felt history in the new millennium. Presently, public sentiment reveals a desire to accept and understand the experiences of the wartime generation as part of familiar family history. [from author]

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