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Rape during the Second World War

  1. The operations of annihilation: Actions tailored to the strategic problems of the revolutionary war
    1. Problems and specific features of the Red Army
    2. The dualism of operations of annihilation:The weakening of the enemy combined to strengthen the Red Army
  2. The refusal of passivity: necessary condition for the implementation of the actions of annihilation
    1. The role of the population for the military offensive
    2. The number and mobility for the success of the offensive

Rape committed by the Allies or enemies during the second world war is a subject that is little discussed. On one hand, the weight of society and social norms influence behavior, and on the other hand, concerns are elsewhere. The war gives other priorities than the fate of women. Sources are sparse on this subject. For example, official figures of rapes committed by the GIs are 854 for the whole of Europe, 552 for Germany, 181 for France and 121 for England. However, according to J. R. Lilly, the reality is quite different, these figures represent only 5% of the reality; or 11,040 in Germany, 3620 in France, 2420 in England, and a total of 17,080.

On both sides, allies and Fascist camps, mass rapes were committed. These rapes will now be judged. However, are there any differences in sentences in trials? Rape during war will be studied, as seen through the laws and the public opinion, and then we will see the various rapes by the allies and the Axis powers.

Before you can talk about the rape instances in war, we must consider rape in its entirety. You should know that this crime was not always considered as such, what seems normal to condemn today was not considered so until 1978, when the criminal law recognized rape as a crime. And even now, in France, rape is far from being condemned. First, instances of rape are generally not reported as rape is shameful for the victim. There is the attitude that normally a rape happens because the girl was apparently ‘asking’ for it via her way of dressing or her demeanor. There are cases where the victim speaks out, but even then the perpetrator manages to go scot-free or at the most, is handed down a mild punishment.

As for rape during war, it is even more difficult to condemn. Marc Hillel says, "History teaches us that women have always been part of the booty of the conquerors. Everywhere and at all times when a tribe or nation imposed its law upon another, the dominant group is allowed to take the greatest liberties against women dominated the group." Rape is, like murder, torture, an act that is part of the war.

It has only been a few years since it was prohibited by law and by Western public opinion. We can date the awareness of the horror of these acts with the conflict in former Yugoslavia and the Serb Dusco Tadic convicted in 1996 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes where he committed numerous rapes. This decision led to the creation of Article 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which explicitly refers to rape during armed conflict as war crimes.

The inclusion of rape as a war crime has led to the awareness of the suffering of the victim, and the mental trauma undergone by her male relatives as they could not protect their women.

Tags: war crimes, rape, sexual abuse, Dusco Tadic

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