Sexuelle Gewalt während des Luftkriegs: Eine neue Perspektive auf weibliches Leiden in Gert Ledigs Die Vergeltung

TitleSexuelle Gewalt während des Luftkriegs: Eine neue Perspektive auf weibliches Leiden in Gert Ledigs Die Vergeltung
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsWieden, Anja
JournalNeophilologus
IssueJournal Article
Pagination1 - 17
Date Published2018///
Abstract

Most discourse surrounding mass rape committed against German women at the end of World War II identify the occupying soldiers as the main perpetrators of this violence. In Gert Ledig’s 1956 novel Payback, however, we find an atypical victim-perpetrator constellation wherein the abuser is a German man who rapes a German woman during an airraid attack. Ledig’s Payback exposes female suffering using a unique narrative style that understands the woman’s body as, in Colette Lawson’s words, a “mediating force”. The young woman falls prey to the unsympathetic narrator’s voyeuristic lens, which exposes every intimate detail of her body’s reactions to surrounding dangers. The distanced and sober depictions of the woman’s sufferings distinguish Payback from other postwar rape memoirs, which are written from a sympathetic perspective towards the female victim. Even though Payback is a fictional piece, many airwar survivors praised Ledig for his realistic depictions of the destruction during the raids. By including a story of rape in Payback, Ledig is likely to be the only author who understands German women’s wartime suffering in World War II as twofold: they feared the Allied bomber pilots, but they also feared sexual violence spurred by the moral decay of the war’s destruction. It is my goal to provide a much-needed gendered discussion on airwar literature, which has treated women’s roles as a side phenomenon.

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