Krimmer 2015 Rape

Title Information

Author: Elisabeth Krimmer

Title: Philomela's Legacy

Subtitle: Rape, the Second World War, and the Ethics of Reading

Journal: The German Quarterly: A Journal of the American Association of Teachers of German

Volume: 88

Issue: 1

Year: Winter 2015 (Published online: February 16, 2015)

Pages: 82-103

ISSN: 0016-8831 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1756-1183 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | German History, Russian History | Types: Wartime Rape / Second World War

Full Text

Link: Wiley Online Library (Restricted Access)

Additional Information

Author: Elisabeth Krimmer, German Department, University of California at Davis

Abstract: »This article addresses the ethical quandaries of the wartime rape of German women by Russian soldiers during the last months of the war. In particular, I discuss the multiple challenges involved in reading such rapes: the danger of identifying the victimization of these women with the victimization of the German nation; the danger of trivializing or downplaying the suffering of the rape victim; the challenge of writing about rape without recycling Nazi narratives. Rape is, as Sabine Sielke maintains, “a dense transfer point for relations of power.” My readings show that, when wartime rape is made to serve an ideological agenda, as it inevitably is, the experience of the victim, her trauma and pain, threaten to disappear amidst the noise of justifications, metaphors, and political deployments. Drawing on the mythical model of Philomela, I argue that there is a legacy of violence in both silence and in writing, but there is also an ethics of reading that allows one to pay tribute to the victims’ suffering even as one negotiates and recontextualizes their stories.« (Source: The German Quarterly)


  I. Rape and Representation (p. 83)
  II. "Consensual Rape": Wladimir Gelfand's Deutschland Tagebuch 1945-46 (p. 85)
  III. Rape as Gap: Narrative Lacunae in Rape Memoirs (p. 91)
  IV. The Politicization of Rape: Ingo Münch (p. 95)
  V. Conclusion (p. 98)
  Notes (p. 99)
  Works Cited (p. 100)

Wikipedia: Wartime sexual violene: Rape during the occupation of Germany, Soviet war crimes, World War II

Added: February 28, 2015 – Last updated: February 28, 2015