Crimes unspoken : the rape of German women at the end of the Second World War

Als die Soldaten kamen. English
Gebhardt, Miriam, author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Miriam Gebhardt ; translated by Nick Somers
  • Format Books
  • Publication Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA : Polity, [2017]
  • Physical Details
    • vi, 252 pages ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 9781509511204, 1509511202, 9781509511228
  • OCLC ocn949669612


  • The soldiers who occupied Germany after the Second World War were not only liberators: they also brought with them a new threat, as women throughout the country became victims of sexual violence. In this disturbing and carefully researched book, the historian Miriam Gebhardt reveals for the first time the scale of this human tragedy, which continued long after the hostilities had ended. Discussion in recent years of the rape of German women committed at the end of the war has focused almost exclusively on the crimes committed by Soviet soldiers, but Gebhardt shows that this picture is misleading. Crimes were committed as much by the Western Allies -- American, French and British -- as by the members of the Red Army, and they occurred not only in Berlin but throughout Germany. Nor was the suffering limited to the immediate aftermath of the war. Gebhardt powerfully recounts how raped women continued to be the victims of doctors, who arbitrarily granted or refused abortions, welfare workers, who put pregnant women in homes, and wider society, which even today prefers to ignore these crimes.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Translated from the German.


  • Seventy years too late -- Wrong victims? -- How many were affected -- Sexual aggression against men -- A word about method -- Berlin and the east -- chronicle of a calamity foretold -- The great fear -- The Red Army comes -- Berlin -- One year on -- Extracts from police reports -- A different perspective -- South Germany -- who will protect us from the Americans? -- No one's time -- Moderate indignation -- A "feeling of great insecurity among our soldiers" -- Discussion -- A "sexual conquest of Europe"? -- Unbroken assertion of power by the occupiers -- Parallels and differences -- Pregnant, sick, ostracized -- approaches to the victims -- Victims twice over -- Fraternization -- The abortion problem -- No one's children -- "The other victims are also taken care of" -- First the French, then the public authorities -- "I love this child as much as the others" -- The long shadow -- The effects of the experience of violence -- The myth of female invulnerability -- "Anonymous" and the censorship of memory -- Duties of loyalty -- First feminist protests -- Helke Sander's "BeFreier" and the German victim debate -- The past today
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