Topographie des Terrors, Shame on You!

It is 2017 and Germany still has not owned up to its widespread sexual violence during World War II, committed by German soldiers, members of both the Wehrmacht and the SS. The myth that only the Soviet soldiers in Berlin who committed mass rape continues to be in so many people’s thinking.

I was apprehensive after I read the sentence about how Red Army soldiers harrassed German women in Berlin as they entered Berlin. We entered the open air museum at the end of the exhibition and read chronologically backward. I could only suspect that they wouldn’t mention that German soldiers had also committed massive sexual crimes during the war.

Because we began reading at the end of the exhibition, it made sense the Red Army rapes would be mentioned first. But I had little hope the exhibition would mention the vast German system of sexual slavery. I had even less hope that the many German rapes of Jews, Slavs, and others during the war would be mentioned.

The Germans were as sexually bestial as were the Soviets

And sure enough, unless I missed it, I did not see any mention of German sexual crimes during the war. As usual, those behind the making of this museum only thought to include the crimes of the Slavs. They helped to further the stereotype that for some reason the Slavic men are more beastly than the Germans.

Of course, it mentioned other crimes the Germans committed, but not sexual crimes. If the authors thought to mention sexual crimes of one army, then they should also mention the sexual crimes of the other. The SS, Wehrmacht, and other Germans in the east were not innocent of sexual criminality.

The evidence is out there even from before my dissertation in 2004! And I clearly documented widespread rape and system sexual slavery committed and established by the Germans. In the years since my published research, other scholars have documented additional German sexual violence during the war.

Topographie des Terrors, Shame on You!

Come on, Germany! Own up to your sexual crimes as well! Stop pretending only the Soviet Army committed these on the eastern front.

If I am wrong and missed something and the historians and those responsible for the text of this exhibition did include something of the sexual crimes the Germans committed, let me know. We were unable to spend as much time as I would have liked at this outdoor museum, so it is possible I missed something. I actually hope that I have.

I do commend Berlin for having the open air museums it does have. Many of the stories and photographs are available to the general public. This is especially important to students and young persons who do not always have the financial means to enter the more expensive museums housed inside buildings.

Still, the general public deserves to know that the Germans forced thousands and thousands of women of all races to work in brothels. The SS, Wehrmacht, other soldiers, and concentration camp inmates visited the brothels to engage in sexual intercourse, in effect raping a woman each time.  No woman chose to work in one of these brothels. If the choice is between starvation and the slight chance of living, that is not a choice. Each man who visited the brothel is in effect a rapist.

German soldiers also raped before they murdered, outside of brothels. Scholars have documented this time and again. So why not, in Berlin, do the scholars in charge of this open air museum mention this and pretend the Germans committed no such crimes? The Germans even raped Jews, which was categorically and falsely denied for decades.


Victims, Heroes, Survivors: Sexual Violence on the Eastern Front During World War II. PhD dissertation.


5 thoughts on “Topographie des Terrors, Shame on You!”

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