Added: February 4, 2017 – Last updated: February 3, 2018


Author: Miriam GebhardtTranslator: Nick Somers

Title: Crimes Unspoken

Subtitle: The Rape of German Women at the End of the Second World War

Place: Cambridge

Publisher: Polity

Year: 2017

Pages: 350pp.

ISBN-13: 9781509511204 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781509511235 (EPUB) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781509511228 (Mobi) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History; European History: English History, French History, German History, Russian History | Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / Second World War; Victims: Physical Consequences / Rape Children



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Author: Miriam Gebhardt, Fachbereich Geschichte und Soziologie (Department of History and Sociology), Universität Konstanz (University of Konstanz) – Author's Personal Website, Wikipedia


  Chapter 1 Seventy years too late
    Wrong victims?
    How many were affected
    Sexual aggression against men
    A word about method
  Chapter 2 Berlin and the East Ð chronicle of a calamity foretold
    The great fear
    The Red Army comes
    One year on
    Extracts from police reports
    A different perspective
  Chapter 3 South Germany Ð who will protect us from the Americans?
    No one’s time
    Moderate indignation
    A ‘feeling of great insecurity among our soldiers’
    A ‘sexual conquest of Europe’?
    Unbroken assertion of power by the occupiers
    Parallels and differences
  Chapter 4 Pregnant, sick, ostracized Ð approaches to the victims
    Victims twice over
    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’
  Chapter 5 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
  Sources and selected literature

Description: »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.
Crimes Unspoken is the first historical account to expose the true extent of sexual violence in Germany at the end of the war, offering valuable new insight into a key period of 20th century history.« (Source: Wiley)

Original: Gebhardt, Miriam. Als die Soldaten kamen: Die Vergewaltigung deutscher Frauen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Munich 2015. – Bibliographic Entry: Info


– Peck, Abraham J. Human Rights Review (January 6, 2018). – Full Text: SpringerLink (Restricted Access)

– Quataert, Jean H. Human Rights Quarterly 39(4) (November 2017): 997-1000. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

– Williams, Katherine. LSE Review of Books (May 9, 2017). – Full Text: London School of Economics and Political Science (Free Access)

– Yager, Jane. »Rubble women.« The Times Literary Supplement (April 12, 2017). – Full Text: The Times Literary Supplement (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1918–45), History of the United States (1945–64) | History of Europe: History of England, History of France | History of Europe: History of Germany / Nazi Germany, Allied-occupied Germany | History of Europe: History of Russia / History of the Soviet Union (1927–1953) | Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence | War: World War II / Rape during the occupation of Germany | War crime: Allied war crimes during World War II / British war crimes, Soviet war crimes, United States war crimes