Victims, Heroes, Survivors: Sexual Violence on the Eastern Front during World War II

TitleVictims, Heroes, Survivors: Sexual Violence on the Eastern Front during World War II
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsGertjejanssen, Wendy Jo
Academic DepartmentHistory
Number of Pages401
Date Published2004/05
UniversityUniversity of Minnesota
CityMinneapolis, MN

Because of the absence of detailed studies of individual communities on the topic of sexual violence in the east, [the author investigates] a wide geographical range and explore camp and non-camp settings, and the experiences of Jews and Christian Slavs and Balts....In addition to documenting a large system of military brothels under the German occupation, [the author] found a variety of evidence for mass rape of east Europeans both during and after the German occupation, and further evidence of sexual abuse inside and outside of camps. [The author argues] that 1) in many instances, gender transcended race, culture, or religion since females of all backgrounds, including Jews, became victims of sexual violence; 2) that alcohol significantly contributed to the sexual violence, 3) that German racial laws did not reflect the sexual reality in the east, and finally, 4) that sexual desire or the desire for some kind of sexual activity often played a significant role in the motivation to rape. [The author challenges] three major interpretations: 1) The view that only race, and not gender, mattered in Nazi persecutions, 2) that Jewish women were only incidentally victims of sexual violence; and 3) that the motivation to rape is only about power and not sexual desire.

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