Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rape of the German Women

According to the feminists, we are not to construe statements like "Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women" from Andrea Dworkin as "all sex is rape."

But, to echo a famous feminist politician.  "What difference at this point does it make?"

The difference to me is that I just can't trust what feminists say about anything because it is so transparently obvious that it is all about the politics.

But I still think about Briseis, the trophy concubine of Achilles and the cause of the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon on the plains of Ilium before Troy.  What did Briseis think about her father and mother and brother being killed and then becoming the concubine of the very man that killed them?

I got an approach to an answer in the harrowing book A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City.  It describes what a woman has to go through to survive when living at the mercy of Red Army troops that have just battled their way into the capital of Germany in April 1945.

Here is what she does.  After being forcibly raped a few times this 34-year-old journalist comes to a decision:
Damn this to hell! I say it out loud. Then I make up my mind. No question about it.

I have to find a single wolf to keep away the pack.  An officer, as high-ranking as possible, a commandant, a general, whatever I can manage.  After all, what are my brains for, my little knowledge of the enemy's language.
It's the morning of April 28, 1945 and goes out and finds herself an officer.  He brings food and drink every night and everyone in the apartment has a jolly time, partying the night away until it's time to go to bed and for her to get violated.  And when his unit moves on, another officer takes his place.

It was the adult fecund women that took the brunt of the rape.  The women mostly managed to hide the teenaged virgins in attics and false ceiling, and the older women were mostly spared.

These young, sexually experienced women had the skills to manage their conquerors, to avoid gang rape, and to exchange, as far as possible, sex for survival.

It was the young innocents that suffered most psychological damage.  Not knowing how to manage men sexually, they were the ones that ended up being most brutally violated.

Here's the chronology of a conquered city.  You never know.
  • By April 20 water and electricity are out.  
  • On April 26 Germans are looting an abandoned barracks for food and drink.  
  • On April 27 the Russians arrive and the worst rape occurs.  
  • On May 2 the city surrenders.  
  • On May 9 the Russian sugar daddies leave.  
  • On May 11 they get new ration cards and start to venture out to find friends in other neighborhoods.  
  • On May 14 there's "a Russian truck full of flour" on her street.  Food is back.
  • On May 15 she registers for work.  
  • On May 16 she acts as translator for a Russian lieutenant charged to check out all the banks in her neighborhood.  
  • On May 19 the water comes back on.  
  • On May 22 she gets to work shoveling debris.  
  • On May 24 she works stripping factories of everything movable for transport to Russia.  
  • On May 25 she starts work washing soldiers' clothing. 
  • On May 26 the electricity and the radio come back on. "They say that millions of people -- mostly Jews -- were cremated in the East and that their ashes were used for fertilizer."  
  • On June 3 she starts working (for free) for a Hungarian who wants to start a publishing venture.  
  • On June 8 the streetcar starts operations (briefly).  
  • On June 16 her German pre-war lover turns up.
Her lover Gerd looks at her diary.  What's this abbreviation "Schgd?"
I had to laugh: "Schändung," of course -- rape. He looked at me as if I were out of my mind but said nothing more.
You get a new understanding of violence and human sexuality from the extreme experience of a woman trying to survive in a conquered city during the key month when order has broken down.

And you get to understand what women want.  They want to make the best of the situation.

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