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Wartime violence against women

“You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” — Alice Sebold

Terror of Nazis was concluding and new dark clouds were engulfing Europe. Allied forces were coming to save but they will distress the vulnerable women and violate them to appease their hunger.

After the war’s end, a pair of smiling, well-dressed Soviet soldiers accost a German woman on a street

From January until June of 1945, there was a mass rape of German women by Soviet Red Army. There aren’t any precise figures available but the estimation states about 2 million victims. According to hospital reports, abortions rates were surging. Even though aborting a child was strictly illegal in Germany, many doctors thought it to be their duty to help these women.

Sexual violence was a revenge tactic — for a crime that Germans committed by invading their motherland. Make their women suffer, establish power by controlling their body and leaving them traumatized with unwanted pregnancies.
“They all lifted their skirts for us and lay on the bed. Two million of our children were born”, boasted one senior leader of a tank company.

Violations were indiscriminating. They were raping every woman from eight to eighty. A young Jewish lieutenant, Vladimir Gelfand recorded in his diary the following observations:

With horror on their faces, they told me what had happened on the first night of the Red Army’s arrival.

‘They poked here,’ explained the beautiful German girl, lifting up her skirt, ‘all night. They were old, some were covered in pimples and they all climbed on me and poked — no less than 20 men,’ she burst into tears.

‘They raped my daughter in front of me and they can still come back and rape her again’, said the poor mother.

“‘Stay here,’ the girl suddenly threw herself at me, ‘sleep with me! You can do whatever you want with me, but only you!’”

Author of German Diary 1945–1946 (Deutschland-Tagebuch 1945–1946) — Notations of a Soldier in the Red Army

Ingeborg Bullert was twenty at the time and dreamed of becoming an actress. She came out after decades to share her distressing experience.

Ingeborg Bullert, one of the victims of Soviet Army sexual violence

Suddenly there were two Russians pointing their pistols at me. One of them forced me to expose myself and raped me, and then they changed places and the other one raped me as well. I thought I would die, that they would kill me.

“My mother liked to boast that her daughter hadn’t been touched,” she says.

There was another anonymous diarist who shared her bed with a senior officer from Leningrad to save herself from the ‘male beasts’.

“By no means could it be said that the major is raping me. Am I doing it for bacon, butter, sugar, candles, canned meat? To some extent I’m sure I am. In addition I like the major and the less he wants from me as a man, the more I like him as a person.

It was not only German to suffer, but women in other parts of Europe also received the same treatment — Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. “The boys should be allowed to have some fun. It’s been a hard war’, justified the ruler of the Soviet Union Iosif Stalin.

One victim of these gang rapes described it as being dead. The whole body is gripped by cramp and you feel repulsion. I can’t tell how many men were there- ten, fifteen. But this went on and on.

Inge Zaun lived in Klein-Machnow was raped “over and over again, sixty times” when she was just eighteen-years-old.

‘How can you defend yourself?’

‘When they pound at the door and fire their guns
senselessly. Each night new ones, each night others. The first time
when they took me and forced my father to watch, I thought I would
die … . Since their captain has taken me as his mistress, it is fortunately
only one. He listens to me too and helps make sure they leave the girls
[her sisters] alone.’

Andreas-Friedrich notes that after 6 May, when the Soviets entered her
neighborhood, German men were lamenting the rape of their daughters
and wives:

Suicide is in the air…
‘Honor lost, all lost’, a bewildered father says and hands a rope to his
daughter who has been raped twelve times. Obediently she goes and
hangs herself from the nearest window sash.

‘If you get raped nothing is left to you but death,’ a teacher declares
to a class of girls two days before the final collapse. More than half the
students came to the anticipated conclusion, as expected of them, and
drowned themselves and their lost honor in the nearest body of water.
Honor lost, all lost. Poison or bullet, rope or knife. They are killing
themselves by the hundreds.

Women took their own lives in advance of the Red Army invasion. (Voller Ernst/Getty)

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