Wieden 2011 Rape

Title Information

Author: Anja Wieden

Title: Female Experiences of Rape and Hunger in Postwar German Literature, 1945-1960

Subtitle: -

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Year: 2011

Pages: viii + 213pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | German History | Cases: Victims / Marta Hillers; Representations: Literature / Heinrich Böll, Wolfgang Koeppen, Gert Ledig; Types: Wartime Rape / Second World War

Full Text

Link: Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Free Access)

Additional Information

Author: Anja Wieden, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Oakland UniversityAcademia.edu


»Female Experiences of Rape and Hunger in Postwar German Literature, 1945-1960, traces the fundamental rubble experiences of rape and hunger as they course over time and through the genres of autobiography and fiction. This dissertation illuminates how literary forms unite, dissociate or displace female experiences in such a way that either female power is enacted or masculinist political reconstruction is facilitated.
In the immediate postwar years, autobiographies became a popular genre for women to express their experiences of rape and hunger during and directly after the war. Anonyma’s Eine Frau in Berlin, written from April to June 1945, is of central interest to my analysis. The writer’s imagination of a postwar world is filtered through her starving and sexually abused body, resulting in what Anonyma describes as “Schreiben aus dem Bauch heraus.” Using humor to narrate her rape experience, the writer displays agency and control of her situation.
Conversely, my dissertation also explores the recoding, appropriation and silencing of female experiences, prominently played out in fictional texts written and published alongside women’s autobiographies. These divergent representations resulted, in part, from what I first identify as the literary subordination of bodily experience to the primacy of political ideology around 1945. In the case of Anna Seghers’ “Die Saboteure” (1947), I illuminate the way anti-fascist prose preserves a link between female agency and the experience of hunger, but at the expense of silencing rape as an incisive wartime experience altogether. In the case of Gert Ledig’s Die Vergeltung (1956), I examine, how literary existentialism not only relativized women’s experiences of rape but also excluded the times and spaces of hunger.
The dissertation then uncovers how narratives such as Das Brot der frühen Jahre (1955) and Der Tod in Rom (1954) appropriate the coupling of hunger and rape common among female autobiographies, but make them part of a man’s quest to come to terms with the past. Wartime experiences of women are almost entirely excluded in this literature. To further demonstrate this exclusion, I turn to Wolfgang Koeppen and Heinrich Böll, two writers of West Germany’s literary salon, Group 47, and examine how texts by these representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany’s leading literary institution claim corporeal economies of food and sex as exclusively (post-) fascist male experiences, transforming the conditions for female agency into post-fascist signs of the fascist man.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. iii)
  Acknowledgements (p.v)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    I. Female Experiences of Rape and Hunger in Postwar German Literature after 1945 (p. 1)
    II. The Investment with the Body - A Reassessment of Adelson's Thesis (p. 6)
    III. The Problematic Issue of Narrating Rape in a Postwar German Context and Beyond (p. 8)
    IV. Hunger / Food and Female Characters (p. 16)
    V. Structure of the Dissertation (p. 20)
  Part I: Eine Frau in Berlin (p. 22)
    Chapter 1: The Deconstruction of Female Victimization (p. 23)
      I. Other Autobiographies and Eine Frau in Berlin (p. 23)
      II. Existing Scholarship and My Reading (p. 31)
      III. Hunger and Food (p. 41)
      IV. Anonyma's Narration of Rape Experiences (p. 53)
      V. Narrating Rape in Humorous Way (p. 66)
      VI. Female Bonding and the Obliteration of Men (p. 69)
      VII. Humor as a Reaction to Imagined Abuse (p. 73)
      VIII. Collective Experience of Rape and Women's "Funny" Stories (p. 77)
      IX. Conclusion (p. 87)
  Part II: Transitions (p. 89)
    Chapter 2: Between Politics and a Higher Violence: the Cleaving of Anna Seghers' "Die Saboteure" and Gert Ledig's Die Vergeltung (p. 90)
      I. Ideology versus Normalization (p. 90)
      II. Hunger and Resistance: the Politics of Food in Segher's "Die Saboteure" (p. 103)
      III. Rape...Just a Larger Part of Violence (p. 113)
      IV. Conclusion (p. 123)
  Part III. The Rise of the Diskurswache (p. 125)
    Chapter 3: The Rise of the Diskurswache (p. 126)
      I. Heinrich Böll and Wolfgang Koeppen as Group 47 Writers (p. 126)
      II. In the Name of Love - Rape Economies in Heinrich Böll's Das Brot der frühen Jahre (p. 132)
      III. "Wenn Sie wollen...werde ich Sie ernähren" (p. 138)
      IV: Food, Sex and Violence: Killing the Leib (p. 148)
    Chapter 4: Erasing Women in Wolfgang Koeppen's Der Tod in Rom (p. 155)
      I. The Abolition of Sensuous Pleasures (p. 155)
      II. Food and Hunger (p. 161)
      III. The Fascist Quest: Fressen and Huren (p. 170)
      IV: Music, Art and Sexual Desire (p. 183)
    Final Conclusion (p. 199)
  Bibliography (p. 203)
    I. Primary Sources (p. 203)
    II. Secondary Sources (p. 204)

Wikipedia: Heinrich Böll: The Bread of Those Early Years (novel); Wolfgang Koeppen: Der Tod in Rom; Gert Ledig: Vergeltung (Roman); Marta Hillers: A Woman in Berlin; Wartime sexual violence: World War II

Added: December 27, 2014 – Last updated: December 27, 2014