World War II in the News
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War, Women and Horror

Women and Horror - Painful stories about the realities of World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Mass rapes by the Red Army, Comfort Women, Women in WWII, Female Pilots, Nurses, Women in Nazi Germany.

Ilse Koch: The Witch of Buchenwald was one of the most evil villains of the Holocaust
If you haven`t heard of her yet, let us introduce to you to Ilse Koch, one of the worst villains of the Holocaust, known as the `Witch of Buchenwald.` Koch joined the Nazi party in 1932 and four years later married the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, Karl-Otto Koch. They lived in an elegant house on Buchenwald`s grounds and seemed like any ordinary couple with three children. However, their marriage and everyday life were far from normal.
(thevintagenews.com)

Conflict-Series: A highly rated strategy game series for Android
If you love classic PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series for Android. Some of the WWII Campaigns include D-Day 1944, Operation Barbarossa, Invasion of Poland 1939, France 1940, Kursk 1943, Market Garden, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Rommel's North African campaign, the Battle of Bulge, and the Battle of Berlin 1945. In addition there are American Civil War, First World War and American Revolutionary War scenarios available.
(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store)

New Book Sheds Light on Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Ravensbrück was the only concentration camp built by the Nazis specifically for women. Located 50 miles north of Berlin, it opened four months before the start of WWII, in May of 1939. It was liberated by the Russians in 1945. During that time, over 130,000 were sent there. At its busiest, there were 45,000 women living there. The death toll was up to 90,000. Little is known about this camp because the Nazis burned most of the prisoners` files and then threw in a nearby lake days before liberation. If Auschwitz was the Nazi center of crimes against Jews, Ravensbrück was their center of crimes against women. That`s the argument author Sarah Helm makes in her book If This Is a Woman – Inside Ravensbrück: Hitler`s Concentration Camp for Women. In it, she rescues Ravensbrück from obscurity with intensive research and interviews.
(warhistoryonline.com)

Film explores hidden history of World War II: the rape of nuns
A new film focuses attention on a long-ignored war crime — the sanctioned and systematic rape of Polish nuns during World War II. `The Innocents` (`Les Innocentes`) tells the story of a young French doctor who is called to a Polish convent to aid a young novice in a breech labor. She discovers that Soviet soldiers, with the approval of their officers, raped dozens of the nuns during the occupation, leaving five of them pregnant. The story is based on real events. In 1945, 27-year-old Madeleine Pauliac, a doctor, was working with the Red Cross in Poland when she was called to the bedside of a nun in labor. According to her notes, the nun was from a convent where advancing Soviet soldiers raped 25 religious sisters, killed 20 more and left five pregnant.
(gazette.com)

Mothers who survived the Nazi death camps: Author uncovered shocking details while researching A Train in Winter
The Nazis had a problem. They couldn`t decide what to do about the pregnant women in Ravensbruck concentration camp. Initially, it was ordained that the babies be handed over for adoption. Then, in 1942, women were forced to have abortions, sometimes as late as the eighth month. Then Women were allowed to give birth, but the babies were drowned or strangled, often with their mothers watching. Then came babies born in the camp were allowed to live - But there was no care for either mother or child, and both frequently died of hemorrhaging, infections and starvation. Journalist Caroline Moorehead found it almost unbearable to write about these events in her book, "A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival".
(canada.com)

British troops gave a gun to a 15-year-old Greek girl and ordered her to shoot Nazi paratroopers
Angelica Thomas was 15 years old when Axis troops invaded Greece in 1941. She fled Athens with a group of British soldiers to Crete, where she was advised to put on a British uniform. At Crete, the hope of rescue vanished, as the island faced one of the biggest German airborne invasions in WWII. "One of the guys said to me, `Why are you standing there? If you don`t shoot, they shoot you`. So he gave me a gun. I close my eyes and I started shooting." Angelica and some British soldiers tried to escape by boat, but German troops captured - and violated - her, then handing her over to the Italians. She was jailed and raped several times in Italy before being forced to work as a nurse at an Italian hospital.
(nctimes.com)

Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust includes 16 essays on the taboo topic
There`s no question that the Nazis committed horrific crimes against Jews: They were rounded up in ghettos, starved, beaten, shot, gassed... But one crime that`s rarely mentioned is rape. When historians Sonja Hedgepeth and Rochelle Saidel discussed sexual violence during a workshop on women and the Holocaust at Israel`s Yad Vashem memorial, they were met with the same disbelief Holocaust deniers express at the extermination of Jews: "Very illustrious Holocaust scholar raised his hand and said, `There were no Jewish women who were violated during the Holocaust. How can you say such a thing? Where is the proof?`" So Hedgepeth and Saidel compiled the first English language book - "Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust" - on the violation of women during the Holocaust.
(womensissues.about.com)

Being violated by the Red Army soldiers: The first German woman to write a WW2 book on the subject under her own name
On Jan. 26, 1945, Gabriele Kopp got on a train to flee from the Soviet Red Army. Unfortunately the locomotive was hit, and the Germans run to a village. Soon Russian soldiers emerged, searching for girls: That day 15-year-old Gabriele was violated twice by a Red Army soldier. The next morning she was "taken" by two men. That afternoon, she hid under a table in a room full of refugees. When the Russian soldiers entered, the older women pulled her out and into the arms of a "greedy officer." It went on like this for 2 weeks - as she retells in "Warum war ich bloss ein Madchen?" ("Why Did I Have to Be a Girl?").
(spiegel.de)

Das KZ Bordell - Book reveals horrors of Nazi brothels in concentration camps
Though not widely known, it was never really a secret that the Nazis had brothels in many concentration camps. "Das KZ Bordell" (The Concentration Camp Brothel, 460-pages) by Robert Sommer is the first exhaustive account of this little-known chapter of Nazi history. The book is the result of 4 years of painstaking research in all 10 Nazi camps where brothels existed 1942-1945. It is based on interviews with a small group of survivors. SS (Schutzstaffel) thought that forced male laborers would work harder if they were promised sex. The women mostly came from the camps of Ravensbrueck and Auschwitz - 70% were Germans, the rest came from Ukraine, Poland and Belarus.
(dw-world.de)

Innocent wives, mothers, sisters and daughters Stalin sent to a Gulag camp in Kazakhstan
The women`s faces gaze down from the walls, some sad, some confused. These women, from all over the Soviet Union, had been sent to gulag although they were not even suspected of anything. Their crime? Being married to an enemy of the state, for which they were sent to this prison in Kazakhstan. This link in "The Gulag Archipelago" was called Alzhir, an acronym for the Akmola Camp for the Wives of Traitors to the Motherland. It was not only wives who were sent here, but mothers, sisters and daughters. There were also kids in Alzhir, and not just the offspring of "enemies of the people." 1937-1953 the camp saw 1,507 births by prisoners violated by guards.
(eurasianet.org)

Concentration camp brothels: The main thing was to survive it all
Kicking them with his boots, the SS man drove Margarete W. and the other women prisoners onto a truck. They drove into a men`s camp and stopped in front of a barracks with a wooden fence. The barracks were different from the ones at the Ravensbruck women`s camp: There were even curtains. The female overseer told they were "now in a prisoners` brothel" - and if they did as they were told, nothing would happen to them. The brothel at the Buchenwald opened on July 11, 1943. It was the 4th of 10 "special buildings" set up in Nazi camps 1942-1945. Robert Sommer`s book, "The Concentration Camp Bordello," was published in German ("Das KZ-Bordell") in 2009.
(freeinternetpress.com)

Ravensbrueck exhibition reveals sex slavery at Nazi camps
"They told us we were in the camp brothel, that we were the lucky ones. We would eat well and have enough to drink. If we behaved and fulfilled our duties nothing would happen to us." So begins the account of Frau W., an inmate of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrueck, who between mid-1943 and 1944 was forced to work as a sex slave for her fellow detainees. Her story is the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Ravensbrueck about the fate of women forced into prostitution 1942-1945, like Asia`s WWII "comfort women". But rather than servicing soldiers, they were the brainchild of SS chief Heinrich Himmler to boost productivity among forced labourers.
(afp)

Soviet sources: The Red Army violated every German female from 8 to 80
"Red Army soldiers don`t believe in `individual liaisons` with German women. 9, 10, 12 men at a time - they violate them on a collective basis," wrote Zakhar Agranenko, an officer of marine infantry, in his journal in East Prussia. The Soviet armies advancing into East Prussia in 1945 were a mix of modern and medieval: tank troops in padded black helmets, Cossack cavalrymen with loot strapped to the saddle, lend-lease Studebakers and Dodges next to horse-drawn carts. Soviet war correspondent Natalya Gesse saw the Red Army in action in 1945: "The Russian soldiers were violating every German female from 8 to 80. It was an army of rapists."
(guardian.co.uk)

Bitches of Buchenwald: Which female death camp guard is the evil inspiration of the film Reader
Who is the evil inspiration behind Kate Winslet`s role in the film Reader: Ilse Koch or Irma Grese? Ilse Koch, the Bitch of Buchenwald as inmates called her, sits on a chair on trial in 1947 facing her accusers. Her long red hair is tied back in a matronly style. Once it was flaunted in the faces of victims in a Nazi camp. Beautiful Irma Grese, blue-eyed blonde, always looked good in her tailored SS uniform and high boots. She had a revolver in a holster and carried a rubber truncheon or a whip. She had an attack dog at her heels and she got herself the reputation of being the cruellest women in Auschwitz.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Stalin`s army of rapists: The brutal Red Army war crime that everybody wanted to forget
In "World War Two: Behind Closed Doors" Laurence Rees remarks that although violation of women was officially a crime in the Red Army, Stalin excused it as a reward: "people should understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through... death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle". It was not helping that Lavrenti Beria - chief of NKVD, which handled reports of Red Army soldiers violating women - was a serial rapist who abused hundreds of school-aged girls in his dacha. In one case, a Berlin lawyer, who had protected his Jewish wife during the Nazi-era, was shot trying to protect her from the Red Army. As he lay dying, he saw his wife being gang-raped.
(dailymail.co.uk)

A Woman in Berlin: WWII movie opens old wounds over Red Army rapes
The phrase "Komm Frau!" sends chills down the spines of elderly Germans. It was the command of Russian soldiers as they pillaged German cities, searching for women to rape. The postwar horror is about to be let out in a new film, A Woman in Berlin, likely to stir bitterness against the Russians. The film is based on a diary of Marta Hillers, who began to write it in a cellar on April 20, 1945. Within days of the Soviet occupation she had been "taken" several times by Red Army soldiers. When the German soldiers returned from the lost war, they did not want to know about the violating of their wives, daughters and mothers - or about the Russenbabies.
(timesonline.co.uk)

Traute Grier`s account of post-war Berlin: How Russian soldiers violated women and girls
When the bombs rained down on Berlin on April 28, 1945, my mother and I hid in the bunker in Hermannsplatz. "What on earth will happen next? What if the Russians come, those beastly... people?" I wondered shaking with fear. Suddenly, a pipe burst and the bunker filled with water. And then we ran: from house to house, fleeing the Russian Katyusha rockets. And then the Soviet soldiers came. Filled with hatred, they took whatever they wanted. In our house a woman and her daughter were violated repeatedly. This sort of thing took place quite often. In August 1945 the Western Allies moved into Berlin and the city was divided up. Luckily, we lived in the American sector.
(spiegel.de)

Margot DeWilde survived "Deadly Medicine" of the final solution
A visitor wonders how Margot DeWilde can sit so comfortably as she explains her part in the greatest horror story of the 20th century. "When we were there, a group of young men came and tattooed the numbers on our arms," she tells, pushing up her sleeve. The softened numbers of old ink are blue beneath her skin. "People became a number and not a person anymore." The ugly marks of Auschwitz have been seen before, but it is not so much what was put on her as what was taken away: Margot was sterilized. "I`m a fatalist. It happened. I always wanted 6 kids. So, now I had to do with doggies."
(kare11.com)

Polish women jailed under Stalin recall horrors of torture
Janina Wojnarowska lifts her blouse to show the thin white scar where part of her breast used to be: before her time in a Stalin-era prison. "I could not feed my son during ... the interrogation, they kept us by open windows in winter, and the breast got black and then hard as stone." A doctor had to partly amputate it. She went on caring for her son in a cell where she was fed rotten cabbage. 5,000 women were jailed 1944-1958 under the communist regime enforced by the Soviet Union after Josef Stalin`s troops invaded Poland. The women had lasted a 6-year occupation by Nazi Germany, only to be subjected to investigations on charges of spying for the West.
(rrstar.com)

Study examines Nazi gender ideology: Rapes under Third Reich
A study on Nazi gender ideology has found that when sentencing Nazi soldiers convicted of raping, the Third Reich courts were influenced by what was considered normative behavior - not by the damage done to the victim. Based on files from the military tribunal in Freiburg, Monika Flaschka found that in cases of assault on girls whose conduct was considered normative, soldiers were given harsher sentences than in cases of assault on girls who had evinced sexual curiosity. She will present her findings at the 4th conference on women and the Holocaust, this time titled "Childhood and Youth under the Third Reich - A Gender Perspective."
(haaretz)

German women seized during World War II seek recognition
A group of elderly women met - some from western Germany, others from the former communist east - have been meeting in Berlin once a month since 1996. They share memories and above all struggle to have their past recognized. All of them had been seized by Red Army soldiers during the spring of 1945 and transported to Siberia, where they spent years in labor camps. When the Red Army started its offensive toward Berlin in 1945, tens of thousands of Germans tried to cross the Oder River to flee westward. "The Russians came. They pointed at us and shouted out, `You, you, and you. You come with us.` They grabbed us. They did terrible things to us."
(iht)

American GIs used comfort women after World War II
Japan`s abhorrent practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its troops in WWII has a little-known sequel: After its surrender Japan set up a similar "comfort women" system for American GIs. An AP review of historical documents shows American authorities permitted the official brothel system to operate despite reports that women were being coerced into it. The Americans also had full knowledge by then of Japan`s atrocious treatment of women. On August 28, 1945, first troops arrived in Atsugi, by nightfall the troops found the RAA`s first brothel. "... I was surprised to see 500 or 600 soldiers standing in line on the street," Seiichi Kaburagi wrote.
(heraldsun)

Exhibit: How women in the camps and ghettos kept their spirits alive   (Article no longer available from the original source)
An exhibit studies not what was done to women in the camps and ghettos but what they did to keep their spirits alive. A tiny piece of cellophane smudged with bright red lipstick, a bra hand-sewn with thread from a blanket, and a camp uniform adorned with a single bead. These are some of the artifacts on show at an exhibition at the Yad Vashem Museum. "Spots of Light" is a multimedia exhibition that displays camp and ghetto experiences from a feminine perspective, pinpointing the ways in which women held on to their identity under unbearable circumstances. More than 3 million women were sent to the Nazi camps during World War II.
(msnbc)

Australian comfort woman seeks apology
An Australian woman forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War 2 will appear before a US Congressional hearing seeking an apology for her treatment. Jan Ruff O`Herne was 19 when she was seized from a PoW camp and forced into a brothel to become one of hundreds of thousands of "comfort women". She was "violated day and night" by Japanese soldiers for 3 months during the war. "We were just military sex slaves. They called us comfort women but it was just a horrific experience. An apology will give us back our dignity. You can`t imagine the shame that we have lived with."
(smh)

Heinrich Himmler`s Joy Divisions   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Forced to work in Heinrich Himmler`s death-camp brothels women were destroyed by the evil of the Nazis. Now the women`s story is being told at an exhibition being held at Ravensbruck. It includes first-hand accounts from the women and the men who used them. In 1942 SS chief Heinrich Himmler wrote to Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess: "I consider it necessary to provide in the most liberal way hard-working prisoners with women..." Each session lasted 20 minutes with every woman expected to sleep with 8 men a day and up to 40 at weekends. Ryszard Dacko was one of the men who used the women: "If I wanted to get a voucher, I had to sort things out with an SS man..."
(mirror)

New German exhibition documents forced prostitution in Nazi camps
A German exhibition reveals a sordid chapter from the history of the Nazi camps: forcing female inmates to work as prostitutes for the benefit of male slave laborers. 300-400 women were forced to become sex workers in brothels in ten camps. A visit "special barrack" was part of a system of incentives intended to boost the productivity of slave laborers. The idea came from Heinrich Himmler himself, as a letter from the SS leader on display in the exhibition shows. Hardly any of the women applied after 1945 for compensation because they felt talking about their experiences was too degrading.
(spiegel)

"Sisters" details sex slave trade of Imperial Japanese Army   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The upcoming Chinese film Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters is set to shed light on the Japanese sex slave trade that only ceased at the end of World War II. The film will launch in February 2007 and follow the troubles China endured in the 1930s and 1940s during a Japanese occupation, with women forced into slavery by their oppressors. Film director Ban Zhongyi claimed that in creating the film recounting how Imperial Japanese Army soldiers kidnapped Chinese women for their own sexual bidding, he was revisiting an ignored history that needed to be told.
(earthtimes)

Thanks for the Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II
Thanks for the Memories goes beyond what you might have learned from textbooks. Jane Mersky Leder has collected some stories you might not know about -- like prostitution in Army camps, venereal disease, and the man hours it cost the war effort, wretched living conditions, hasty marriages or the stories of lesbians and gays who enlisted and fought for America. Leder goes on to discuss female roles during WW2 and how this change laid the foundation for Women`s Liberation in the 1960s.
(blogcritics)

Exhibition recalls millions of germans beaten after World War II
Germany is recalling its suffering in the confusion after the Second World War when millions of germans from Eastern Europe were expelled. As the liberated Poles and Czechs sought revenge on their former oppressors, many German women were violated and beaten; some were nailed to cartwheels. Now the suffering is being remembered in an exhibition in Berlin. For Erika Steinbach it is the first step towards creating a permanent centre in Berlin to commemorate the 12 million Germans deported. The Polish President says that it is an attempt to represent Germans as victims. Earlier, one Polish magazine cover depicted Frau Steinbach in a black SS uniform.
(timesonline)

A woman in Berlin as it was sacked by the Red Army 1945   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The diary of "A Woman in Berlin: April-June 1945" records the life in cellars when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany collapsed as Soviet armies moved into Berlin, offering view of a terrifying onslaught. If food was the main concern, the other was the fear of rape. "One young man in grey trousers turns out on close inspection to be a woman, hoping to save herself from the attention of Red Army soldiers. Others try to make themselves appear old and dirty." As social historians have argued, rape is a strategy of war: Those actions committed in 1945, even against old women and pubescent girls, were acts of violence, an expression of revenge.
(bs)

Red Army troops violated even Russian women as they liberated them from camps
The Red Army`s orgy of rape in the dying days of Nazi Germany was conducted on a much greater scale than previously suspected, according to the military historian Anthony Beevor. Beevor, the author of the best-selling Stalingrad, says advancing Soviet troops violated large numbers of Russian and Polish women held in concentration camps, as well as millions of Germans. The extent of the Red Army`s indiscipline and depravity emerged as the author studied Soviet archives. Beevor - who served in the 11th Hussars elite cavalry regiment - says details of the Soviet soldiers` behaviour have forced him to revise his view of human nature.
(telegraph.co.uk)


See also:
Mass rapes by the Red Army
Comfort Women
Women in WWII
Female Pilots
Nurses
Women in Nazi Germany.