Sexual Violence in the Holocaust: Unique and Typical?

TitleSexual Violence in the Holocaust: Unique and Typical?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsBergen, Doris L.
EditorHerzog, Dagmar
Book TitleThe Holocaust in International Perspective: Lessons and Legacies, Vol. VII
PublisherNorthwestern University Press
CityEvanston, IL

In this essay, Bergen suggests some ways to analyze sexual violence in the Holocaust. In doing so, she demonstrates some of the kinds of evidence available and explores how sexual violence functioned in this particular system of mass death. Sexual violence in the Holocaust, she argues, was both typical of other genocides and wars, and unique. It was typical in the acts themselves—rape, mutilation, violation of taboos, dismemberment—but unique in the patterns it followed and the meaning given to those acts by a particular ideology—that is, by National Socialist ideas of "race and space" and by the Nazi quest to realize a hierarchy based on "race" and "blood" to expand the German Empire through conquest and domination. [Author]

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