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A Forgotten “Jugun Ianfu”: Rape by Nazi Soldiers

Rapes were allowed in practice by the German military (officially forbidden, however) in eastern and
southeastern Europe, while northern and western countries were relatively spared.[76][77] In Occupied
Denmark, which initially agreed to collaborate with Nazi Germany, rapes were not widespread, and
German officials promised to punish them.[76] By contrast thousands of Soviet female nurses, doctors
and field medics fell victim to rape when captured, and were often murdered afterwards.[18]
German soldiers used to brand the bodies of captured partisan women – and other women as well –
with the words "Whore for Hitler's troops" and rape them.[78] Following their capture some German
soldiers vividly bragged about committing rape and rape-homicide.[79] Susan Brownmiller argues that
rape played a pivotal role in Nazi aim to conquer and destroy people they considered inferior such
as Jews, Russians, Poles[80] An extensive list of examples rapes committed by German soldiers was
compiled in so called "Molotov Note" in 1942. Brownmiller points out that Nazis used rape as a
weapon of terror[81]
Examples of mass rapes in Soviet Union committed by German soldiers include:

 Smolensk: German command opened a brothel for officers in which hundreds of women and
girls were driven by force, often by arms and hair.[82]
 Lviv: 32 women working in a garment factory were raped and murdered by German soldiers, in
public park. A priest trying to stop the atrocity was murdered.
 Lviv: Germans soldiers raped Jewish girls, who were murdered after getting pregnant.[83] It is
estimated that over a million children were born to Russian women, fathered by German
soldiers.[84]:56 [85]
 Barysaw: 75 women and girls attempting to flee at the approach of the German troops were
captured by them. The Germans first raped and then savagely murdered 36 of their number. By
order of a German officer named Hummer, the soldiers marched L. I. Melchukova, a 16-year-old
girl, into the forest, where they raped her. A little later some other women who had also been
dragged into the forest saw some boards near the trees and the dying Melchukova nailed to the
boards. The Germans had cut off her breasts in the presence of other women.
 Kerch: imprisoned women were raped and tortured; breasts were cut off, stomachs ripped open,
limbs cut off and eyes gouged out. A mass grave full of mutilated bodies of young women was
found after Germans were driven out of town.
Author Ursula Schele, estimated in the Journal "Zur Debatte um die Ausstellung Vernichtungskrieg.
Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941-1944" that in one of ten sexual intercourse with German soldiers
would have led to pregnancy and therefore its probable, while not provable that up to ten millions
women in the Soviet Union could have been raped by the Wehrmacht.[86]:9
Birgit Beck, in her work Rape: The Military Trials of Sexual Crimes Committed by Soldiers in the
Wehrmacht, 1939–1944, describes the leniency in punishing sex crimes by German authorities in
the East, at the same time pointing out heavy punishments applied in the West.[87] If a soldier who
committed a rape was subsequently convicted by a court-martial, he would usually be sentenced to
four years in prison[88] The German penal code was also valid for soldiers in war.[89] However, until
1944 only 5,349 soldiers of the Wehrmacht on all fronts were sentenced because of indecency
offence "Sittlichkeitsvergehen" or rape "Notzucht".[90] Historian Mühlhäuser believe that sexual
assault was not an exception but common, and that the actual number of rapes committed by
German soldiers are without question much greater.[91]
Other sources estimate that rapes of Soviet women by the Wehrmacht range up to 10,000,000
incidents, with between 750,000 and 1,000,000 children being born as a result.[84][85][86][92]
In Soviet Russia rapes were only a concern if they undermined military discipline.[87] Since 1941, rape
was theoretically punishable with the death sentence, although, rapes were rarely prosecuted in
practice and rapes by Germans of non-German women were not taken seriously, nor was it
punishable by death, especially in the eastern European territories.[84]:288 In October 1940 the laws on
rape were changed, making it a "petitioned crime" – that is a crime for which punishment had to be
requested. Historian Christa Paul writes that this resulted in "a nearly complete absence of
prosecution and punishment for rape".[84]:288 There were rape cases in the east where the perpetrators
were sentenced if the rape was highly visible, damaging to the image of the German Army and the
courts were willing to pass a condemning verdict against the accused.[84]:289
According to the historian Regina Mühlhäuser, the Wehrmacht also used sexual violence and
undressing in numerous cases of interrogations.[93] Mühlhäuser adds that the number of illegitimate
children born in the occupied regions did not exceed the prewar time. She comes to the conclusion
that rapes on the Eastern front were not singular cases but has to admit that the state of source
material is very poor