Raped by the Red Army: Two million German women speak out
Wednesday 15 April 2009
"The Americans retreated from the East German town of Halle and the Russians marched in. When that happened my female friends all fled, but I couldn’t run because my leg was injured. So the Russians attacked me, and they raped me."
It was the end of July 1945, when 19-year-old Ruth Schumacher was raped by four Russian soldiers, a fate shared by an estimated two million women in Germany who, at the end of the Second World War, suddenly found themselves confronted with the Soviet army. For decades many of these women didn’t talk about what happened – in the post-war years, faced with the crimes of the Nazis, nobody dared focus on German suffering.
"In West Germany the topic was taboo because the Germans were seen as guilty for the war," says Sibylle Dreher, a member of the Association of German Expellees. "And in Soviet-occupied East Germany, people weren’t allowed to talk about the abuse committed by the Soviet soldiers."
Over the years, women have gradually started talking about their trauma. But it’s only now that the first scientific study is being carried out, here at the university of Greifswald, in North East Germany. Psychiatrist Phillip Kuwert is gathering first-hand accounts from women who were raped by Soviet soldiers.
"What happened then is now being brought to light. I think it is only now, 60 years after the end of World War II, that it is possible to deal with this topic in a more nuanced way. We are really seeing a development of the German collective memory," he says. "One aim is to develop a new sort of therapy, suitable for elderly women who were raped in 1945. The events may have happened a long time ago: but the trauma can still be very much felt today."
The traumatic memories of recently-widowed Ruth Schumacher, who was not able to have children because of the rapes, are typical. "The fear always remains in your body, and you never get rid of it. The pain lessens over time, but the fear is always there."
From France 24
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
Ottawa shooting: 'Sergeant-at-arms shot suspect at point-blank range after diving around pillar'
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Jack Bruce dead: Cream bass player dies of liver disease aged 71
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...