Rape during the liberation of France

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U.S. soldiers were reported committing rape against French women during and after the liberation of France in the later stages of World War II. The sociologist J. Robert Lilly of Northern Kentucky University estimates that U.S. servicemen committed around 3,500 rapes in France between June 1944 and the end of the war.

Rape type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse without consent

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

Background

The invasion of Normandy in June and a second invasion in the south in August, put over two million front line and support troops of the Western Allies into France in 1944.

Invasion of Normandy Invasion and establishment of Western Allied forces in Normandy during WWII

The Western Allies of World War II launched the largest amphibious invasion in history when they attacked German positions at Normandy, located on the northern coast of France, on 6 June 1944. The invaders were able to establish a beachhead as part of Operation Overlord after a successful "D-Day", the first day of the invasion.

Operation Dragoon Allied invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944

Operation Dragoon was the code name for the Allied invasion of Southern France on 15 August 1944. The operation was initially planned to be executed in conjunction with Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Normandy, but the lack of available resources led to a cancellation of the second landing. By July 1944 the landing was reconsidered, as the clogged-up ports in Normandy did not have the capacity to adequately supply the Allied forces. Concurrently, the French High Command pushed for a revival of the operation that would include large numbers of French troops. As a result, the operation was finally approved in July to be executed in August.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

The Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. Except for German forces penned in the south-west (e.g., around Bordeaux) or in ports, the majority of German troops were pushed back to the Siegfried Line by the end of 1944. After the war, the repatriation for demobilisation of the troops took time. Even in 1946, months after VE-day there were still about 1.5 million troops in Europe. [1] The housing and management of the thousands of troops awaiting embarkation on a ship for home was a problem.

Liberation of Paris military action that took place during World War II

The Liberation of Paris was a military battle that took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the German garrison surrendered the French capital on 25 August 1944. Paris had been ruled by Nazi Germany since the signing of the Second Compiègne Armistice on 22 June 1940, after which the Wehrmacht occupied northern and western France.

Bordeaux Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in Southwestern France.

Siegfried Line German defensive line used in World War 2

The "Siegfried Line", known in German as the Westwall, and to the Allies as the Dragons Teeth, was a German defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line. It stretched more than 630 km (390 mi); from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands, along the western border of the old German Empire, to the town of Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland – and featured more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps.

Life magazine reported the widespread view among American troops of France as "a tremendous brothel inhabited by 40 million hedonists who spent all their time eating, drinking, making love and in general having a hell of a good time". [2] [3]

French complaints

Normandy region Normandia.PNG
Normandy region

By the late summer of 1944, soon after the invasion of Normandy, women in Normandy began to report rapes by American soldiers. [4] Hundreds of cases were reported. [5]

In 1945, after the end of the war in Europe, Le Havre was filled with American servicemen awaiting return to the States. A Le Havre citizen wrote to the mayor that the people of Le Havre were "attacked, robbed, run over both on the street and in our houses" and "This is a regime of terror, imposed by bandits in uniform." [4] A coffeehouse owner from Le Havre testified "We expected friends who would not make us ashamed of our defeat. Instead, there came only incomprehension, arrogance, incredibly bad manners and the swagger of conquerors." [6] Such behavior also was common in Cherbourg. One resident stated that "With the Germans, the men had to camouflage themselves—but with the Americans, we had to hide the women." [5]

Cherbourg-Octeville Delegated commune of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in Normandy, France

Cherbourg-Octeville is a city and former commune situated at the northern end of the Cotentin peninsula in the northwestern French department of Manche. It is a subprefecture of its department, and was officially formed when the commune of Cherbourg absorbed Octeville on 28 February 2000. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. The city is a Maritime prefecture and sub-prefecture of la Manche. Due to its union, it is the most populated city in its department with 37,121 inhabitants making it the first city of the department before the Saint-Lô prefecture and the second in the region after Caen.

U.S. troops committed 208 rapes and about 30 murders in the department of Manche. [7] French men also raped women perceived as collaborators with the Germans. [8]

U.S. military response

A brothel, Blue and Gray Corral, was set up near the village of St. Renan in September 1944 by Maj. Gen. Charles H. Gerhardt, commander of the infantry division that landed at Omaha Beach, partly to counter a wave of rape accusations against G.I.s. (It was shut down after a mere five hours in order to prevent civilians in the United States from finding out about a military run brothel). [9]

The Free French Forces high command sent a letter of complaint to the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force General Dwight D. Eisenhower. [10] He gave his commanders orders to take action against all allegations of murder, rape, assault, robbery and other crimes. [10] In August 1945, Pierre Voisin, mayor of Le Havre urged Colonel Thomas Weed, U.S. commander in the region, to set up brothels outside Le Havre. [5] However, U.S. commanders refused. [5]

130 of the 153 troops disciplined for rape by the Army were African American.U.S. forces executed 29 soldiers for rape, 25 of them African American. [11] Many convictions against African Americans were based on circumstantial evidence. For example, Marie Lepottevin identified William Downs only because he was "much larger" than the other soldiers. [12]

Historical and criminological studies

According to Alice Kaplan, an American historian of France and chair of the Department of French at Yale University, the U.S. military tolerated rape of French women less than that of German women. She argued that the number of rapes is well documented and is less than that of some other armies during that era, writing that "Nine hundred and four American soldiers were tried for rape in Europe, and even if the actual numbers were much higher, they do not compare with a terrible legacy of World War II-era rapes" committed, for example, by the Japanese in Nanking, by Germans in the German-occupied areas, by the French-Moroccans in Italy and by the Soviet soldiers across Eastern Europe and Germany. [13] J. Robert Lilly, Regents professor of sociology and criminology at Northern Kentucky University, reported in Taken by Force: Rape and American GIs in Europe in World War II his estimate that 14,000 rapes were committed by U.S. soldiers in France, Germany and the United Kingdom between 1942 and 1945. [14] [15] More specifically, Lilly estimated that U.S. servicemen committed around 3,500 rapes in France between June 1944 and the end of the war. [11]

See also

Allied forces
Axis forces

Related Research Articles

Recreation and Amusement Association

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Western Front (World War II) military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany

The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. World War II military engagements in Southern Europe and elsewhere are generally considered under separate headings. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations. The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, and continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain. The second phase consisted of large-scale ground combat, which began in June 1944 with the Allied landings in Normandy and continued until the defeat of Germany in May 1945.

Allied war crimes include both alleged and legally proven violations of the laws of war by the Allies of World War II against either civilians or military personnel of the Axis powers.

War crimes of the Wehrmacht crimes carried out by the German armed forces during World War II

During World War II, the Germans' combined armed forces committed systematic war crimes, including massacres, mass rape, looting, the exploitation of forced labor, the murder of three million Soviet prisoners of war, and participated in the extermination of Jews. While the Nazi Party's own SS forces of Nazi Germany was the organization most responsible for the genocidal killing of the Holocaust, the regular armed forces represented by the Wehrmacht committed war crimes of their own, particularly on the Eastern Front in the war against the Soviet Union.

Soviet war crimes

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Battle for Brest battle fought on the Western Front during World War II

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Bordel militaire de campagne

Bordels Mobiles de Campagne or Bordel Militaire de Campagne is a French term for the mobile brothels which were used during World War I, Second World War, and First Indochina War to supply prostitution services to French soldiers who were facing combat in areas where brothels were unusual, such as at the front line or in isolated garrisons. The BMCs gradually generated regulation of prostitution within the French army.

Wartime sexual violence

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United States war crimes are the violations of the laws and customs of war of which the United States Armed Forces are accused of committing since the signing of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. These have included the summary execution of captured enemy combatants, the mistreatment of prisoners during interrogation (torture), and the use of violence against civilian non-combatants.

Rapes during the occupation of Japan were war rapes or rapes committed under the Allied military occupation of Japan. Allied troops committed a number of rapes during the Battle of Okinawa during the last months of the Pacific War and the subsequent occupation of Japan. The Allies occupied Japan until 1952 following the end of World War II and Okinawa Prefecture remained under US governance for two decades after. Estimates of the incidence of sexual violence by Allied occupation personnel differ considerably.

Rape during the occupation of Germany

As Allied troops entered and occupied German territory during the later stages of World War II, mass rapes of women took place both in connection with combat operations and during the subsequent occupation. Most Western scholars agree that the majority of the rapes were committed by Soviet servicemen, while some Russian historians maintain that these crimes were not widespread. The wartime rapes had been surrounded by decades of silence. According to Antony Beevor, whose books were banned in 2015 from some Russian schools and colleges, NKVD files have revealed that the leadership knew what was happening, but did little to stop it. Some Russian historians disagree, claiming that the Soviet leadership took some action.

German military brothels in World War II

German military brothels were set up by Nazi Germany during World War II throughout much of occupied Europe for the use of Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. These brothels were generally new creations, but in the West, they were sometimes set up using existing brothels as well as many other buildings. Until 1942, there were around 500 military brothels of this kind in German-occupied Europe. Often operating in confiscated hotels and guarded by the Wehrmacht, these facilities served travelling soldiers and those withdrawn from the front. According to records, at least 34,140 European women were forced to serve as prostitutes during the German occupation of their own countries along with female prisoners of concentration camp brothels. In many cases in Eastern Europe, Teenage girls and women were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups called łapanka or rafle.

<i>Taken by Force</i> (book) 2007 book by J. Robert Lilly

Taken by Force: Rape and American GIs in Europe in World War II is a 2007 book by Northern Kentucky University sociology and criminology professor J. Robert Lilly that examines the issue of rape by U.S. servicemen in European theatre of World War II.

Bombing of Normandy

The Bombing of Normandy during the Normandy invasion was meant to destroy the German communication lines in the Norman cities and towns. However, very few Germans occupied these municipalities. German troops were mostly located outside these areas. On 9 July 1944, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery demanded a massive air assault against Caen in hopes of clearing the way for an attack the following morning. Four hundred and fifty heavy aircraft participated, dropping 2,500 tons of bombs. The pilots however negated most of the effect by releasing their loads well back from the forward line to avoid hitting their own troops. As a result, the city incurred heavy damage but German defenses went largely unscathed.

The subject of rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland at the end of World War II in Europe was absent from the postwar historiography until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, although the documents of the era show that the problem was serious both during and after the advance of Soviet forces against Nazi Germany in 1944–1945. The lack of research for nearly half a century regarding the scope of sexual violence by Soviet males, wrote Katherine Jolluck, had been magnified by the traditional taboos among their victims, who were incapable of finding "a voice that would have enabled them to talk openly" about their wartime experiences "while preserving their dignity." Joanna Ostrowska and Marcin Zaremba of the Polish Academy of Sciences wrote that rapes of the Polish women reached a mass scale during the Red Army's Winter Offensive of 1945.

Luxembourg in World War II

The involvement of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in World War II began with its invasion by German forces on 10 May 1940 and lasted beyond its liberation by Allied forces in late 1944 and early 1945.

Mont Canisy battery

The Mont Canisy battery was a World War II German artillery battery constructed close to the French village of Benerville-sur-Mer in the Calvados department in the Lower Normandy region. Located on the highest ground in Normandy, the vantage point overlooks the Côte Fleurie. The bunker complex was constructed between 1941 and 1944 to protect the River Seine estuary and the port of Le Havre. It was the largest artillery bunker complex between Cherbourg and Le Havre. The battery is 8 km (5.0 mi) east of the Houlgate battery.

History of prostitution in France aspect of history

The history of prostitution in France has similarities with the history of prostitution in other countries in Europe, namely a succession of periods of tolerance and repression, but with certain distinct features such as a relatively long period of tolerance of brothels.

References

  1. Levenstein p90
  2. Harvey Levenstein (15 March 2010). We'll Always Have Paris: American Tourists in France since 1930. University of Chicago Press. pp. 92–. ISBN   978-0-226-47380-2 . Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  3. Time Inc (10 December 1945). LIFE. Time Inc. pp. 20–. ISSN   0024-3019 . Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  4. 1 2 Mathieu von Rohr (May 29, 2013). "'Bandits in Uniform': The Dark Side of GIs in Liberated France". Spiegel . Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Faur, Fabienne (2013-05-26). "GI's were liberators yes, but also trouble in Normandy". Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  6. "American WWII GIs were dangerous sex-crazed rapists who the French feared as much as the Germans, explosive book claims". Associated Newspapers. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  7. Wieviorka, Olivier (2010). Normandy: From the Landings to the Liberation of Paris. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 329. ISBN   0674047478.
  8. Virgili, Fabrice (2002). Shorn Women: Gender and Punishment in Liberation France. Berg Publishers. p. 193. ISBN   1859735843.
  9. "The Dark Side of Liberation". New York Times. May 20, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  10. 1 2 "When some liberators were criminals". CBS News. June 2, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  11. 1 2 Schofield, Hugh (5 June 2009). "Revisionists challenge D-Day story". BBC . Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  12. Roberts, Mary Louise (2013). What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 210. ISBN   978-0-226-92311-6.
  13. Alice Kaplan (30 August 2005). The Interpreter. Free Press. pp. 154–. ISBN   978-0-7432-7481-4 . Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  14. Lilly, J. Robert. (2007) Taken by Force: Rape and American GIs in Europe in World War II. Palgrave Macmillan.
  15. Wilson, David (27 March 2007). "The secret war: We know that conflict creates conditions in which soldiers commit rape and murder. Why should American GIs in the 1940s be an exception?". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group . Retrieved 22 May 2018.

Further reading