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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Right then, can I get you opinion on something. Abuse in of women in post war Berlin

153 replies

girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 21:22

Good evening,

Im studying history at university. We have recently been discussing the rape of German women by the Red Army. As im sure you understand, it is a very sensitive topic. However, ive beena bit shocked by the attitudes of fellow students. I dont know if its because im older, well im 30 most of them are 21.

So the stance most of them had was that rape in this case was acceptable and that Berlin women could not be considered to be victims.

They said it was acceptable when you viewed it in the context of the Holocaust. They also said that basically all Germans were guilty of some kind of Nazi crime so they deserved what they got.

This does not sit well with me. Can you share your thoughts with me on this one ladies.

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blackwell · 19/10/2010 21:24

Jeeeeeeesus.

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 21:26

Sorry have I offended.

Its certainly not my opinion and I was to stunned to put my tuppence worth in during the class.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 21:41

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dittany · 19/10/2010 21:53

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 21:57

Omg Dittany,

I did try to say that! I thought it was very much a mans world so why punish the women.

Our lecturer dosent say to much, the floor is really left open for us to debate ourselves

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:01

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dittany · 19/10/2010 22:04

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:07

Anita Grossman: 'A Question of Silence: The Rape of German Woman by Occupation Soldiers'

Susan Brownmiller: Against Our Will: Men, Women and rape

David Clay Large: Berlin

Alexandra Richie: Fausts Metropolis: A History of Berlin

Kust a few from a rather huge list

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:09

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:10

Again we agree ditanny,

the rapes were of women and children starting at 8 years old. 1 woman was reported to have been gang raped by 23 men. I dont understand on what planet this could ever have been deemed acceptable.

Sadly it wont be open for discussion again, but my essay is about how much did the average Berliner suffer post war so I will have my say in a round about way!

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hester · 19/10/2010 22:11

Good grief. I actually don't agree with dittany that women aren't complicit in men's wars. Many German women were deeply complicit with Nazism and its war machine.

That doesn't mean they deserve rape. Or that war crimes are ever justifiable, whatever the sins of the victims.

My family are German Jews, incidentally. We were directly and deeply affected by the Holocaust. I do feel very strongly about it. That doesn't mean I lose my humanity, and your fellow students should be challenged on their opportunism in using the Holocaust to justify their own unpleasant attitudes.

About 20 years ago I read an interesting book called 'Mothers in the Fatherland'. Have you come across it?

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:11

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:12

StewieGriffinsMom,

I have not had the chance to read that particular bit of research yet. Was next on my list as possible essay reading.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:13

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togarama · 19/10/2010 22:14

Out of curiosity was it just male students who took this view or female students as well?

Yes, the Soviet army in post-war Berlin was not the only military force ever guilty of sexual violence against women. It doesn't make it right. Yes, this took place against the backdrop of the Holocaust. That doesn't make it right either. Yes, many Soviet civilians had previously suffered greatly under Nazi aggression. It still doesn't make it right.

Knowing the background context and history does help us to understand why things like this happen and how they're viewed by the rest of society. However, it's childish and facile to think in the way your fellow students do.

Sometimes there's no "right". Sometimes everyone and everything in a given situation is "wrong". No moral highground.

In this case, the Holocaust was wrong and the rape of Berlin women was wrong too.

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:15

hester,

I have heard of the book I think, im sure one of my friends has it.

StewieGriffinsMom,

I thought that could be the cas too but ive not read anything about it. The whole subject is very taboo for some historians I was informed.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:15

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:17

togarama,

In our class ther are students with louder opinions than others. Most who spoke agreed that this theory was correct. It was about 50 50 on the gender front, only on those who got a chance to speak. Id say that was about 60% of the class.

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MotherMountainGhost · 19/10/2010 22:18

That is a truly awful attitude. It's true that a lot of perfectly average Germans went along with Nazism at the time, but what we need to be asking ourselves now is 'how would I have acted under similar circumstances?' I think a lot of people in Britain would just have kept their heads down and got on with things too, with the odd bit of informing on neighbours and supporting petty regulations.

There's a very good, but highly traumatic documentary by Helke Sander called BeFreier und BeFreite (Liberators take Liberties) on this subject, and about how it was kept secret for many years because people were too ashamed to talk about it.

IIRC the consensus among women interviewed who had been raped was that the Russian soldiers were the most active perpetrators compared with the Americans, British or French.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:18

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:21

StewieGriffinsMom ,

thank you very much for those links. I just checked and those books are both in our library so will have a look through them soon.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:22

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dittany · 19/10/2010 22:22

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StewieGriffinsMom · 19/10/2010 22:24

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girlylala0807 · 19/10/2010 22:24


Thank you for that offer. Once I have ploughed through the reading I will come back to you.
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