Rape In The Holocaust

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In the seventy years since the end of the Holocaust, historians have been attempting to document the tragic events that happened during this particularly morbid era. More recently, questions concerning the sexual assault and treatment of women in the Holocaust have become more of a topic of discussion. Sexual assault is defined, by the United States Department of Justice, as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient”. According to the United States Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault also includes forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, incest, fondling, and attempted rape. Records of sexual assault or rape towards women during the Holocaust have not been recorded …show more content…
Hedgepeth and Saidel suggest that one is “located in the beginnings of misogyny, that is, in sexism”. According to them, sexual abuse stems from the perpetrator’s (in this case, German soldiers, guards, and officers in the camps) need for power, as well as a male’s need for ownership of a female. Going by this logic, sexual violence is basically a way for German officers (predominantly male, though there were cases of German female guards being the perpetrator) to express his hatred of the women in the camp. It was a way of punishing women for being , to “assign them social standing” (Hedgepeth and Saidel) in the camps; which was absolute rock bottom (Hedgepeth and Saidel say that women actually had the lowest standing in camp …show more content…
While rape is oftentimes not recounted in testimonies (due to shame or memory repression), if it is, it is usually recounted as an event that happened to someone else. However, those who did recount rape happening to them, personally, said that it was almost impossible to escape. Pearl Gottesmann recounted that, oftentimes, guards would only rape those that they found attractive. Other survivors recount the same thing. Gottesmann remembered this exact thing happening to a friend of hers. She describes her friend as very pretty: “[she] was beautiful, and her grew in, started to grow in very nice, so they picked her out to rape her” (Gottesman). This view unfairly blames rape on the physical attractiveness of a woman rather than on the actions of the male perpetrator. Further, women were sometimes forced to have sexual relations with men while officers would watch. Sexual assault did not stop with Germans, however; sometimes, women were even raped by male prisoners in camps. This was possibly “even more devastating” (Hedgepeth and Saidel), since oftentimes women felt a sort of alliance with men. Hedgepeth and Saidel also say that “every act of sexual violence [during the Holocaust] is rape”, because the girls who were targeted never had a choice in giving consent to these sexual acts, although it may be argued otherwise. Women who were raped were usually given a “choice”, but the “choice”

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