Different Horrors, Same Hell: Gender and the Holocaust

TitleDifferent Horrors, Same Hell: Gender and the Holocaust
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2013
Series EditorGoldenberg, Myrna, and Amy H. Shapiro
Number of Pages298
PublisherUniversity of Washington Press

Jewish women were victimized as Jews. Simply because they were Jews, they were subject to the Final Solution. Because they were women, they were also subject to the physical abuses and sex-based violence that all women face, particularly in wartime. However, during the Holocaust, the consequences of an act of rape by a German man differed from what is often called wartime rape because, in addition to violating a woman’s body and causing her both bodily and emotional harm and, in the process, declaring Jewish men impotent to protect their women, the German who raped a Jewish woman violated his own existential identity and damaged his future identity as member of a separate and, indeed, in its own eyes, a master race. Racial purity was an essential component of Nazi ideology, and, accordingly, sexual contact with a Jew contaminated the bloodline for several generations. The very act of violating the Law to Protect German Honor and Blood threatened the physical purity of a people and, in so doing, set into motion a chain of long-term consequences that threatened the ideology on which Nazism stood. Yet Germans, military and otherwise, raped and tortured Jewish women.

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