Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Reader 1

Jonathan Petropoulos

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Rights Information

© 2013 Alisse Baumgarten

Abstract

The German Armed Forces were originally thought to be completely innocent of all war crimes associated with unethical Nazi racial policies. This has been proven not to be the case. History has adjusted itself to show that Wehrmacht forces were guilty of virtually every war crime except for the sexual violation foreign women. Due to the long-standing assumption that Nazi racial ideology prevented the intermingling of the “Aryan” race with the “unworthy” Eastern European races, this myth was rarely questioned. Given the lack of hard evidence proving that civilian women were raped by invading Wehrmacht troops, a firm conclusion is out of the question. However, with a concrete understanding of the Nazi attitude towards sexual relations, the components in the East that led to a breakdown in Wehrmacht discipline, and the resulting reaction of the Soviet Union in light of this brutality, one can surmise the type of violence women were forced to endure. Through the research conducted in this thesis, it is likely that the mass rape of Eastern European women did indeed occur. The silence that surrounds this issue is highly indicative of the cultural elements that prevent an open discussion of this topic. This thesis is meant to spark a discussion of the implications and reverberations of mass rape in a wartime setting.