There is only One World, but there is a big dividing line between those who are comfortable, happy, healthy, and safe, and those who are in pain, miserable, sick, and in danger. We cross the lines involuntarily at times- but we can also choose to cross over for periods of time from the happy place to the places of sorrow. This is being poor in spirit, this is compassion, this is prayer, this is where we love our neighbor as ourselves, where we love our enemies, where we develop our Christ-likeness. We cross over not because we have to, but because we choose to love.
It has long been known that a huge number of German women suffered from a tidal wave of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers in the closing days of World War II. Some estimates have put the number of women raped at over two million. As described in recent works such as Beevor’s The Fall of Berlin 1945 and Merridale’s Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, this abuse was in some ways instituted (whether intentionally or not) by Soviet propaganda which emphasized to Russian soldiers that they must avenge the rape of Mother Russia, and inflict a humiliation on the German homeland which would assure it would never again attack them.
Regardless of the causes, this epidemic of abuse held an especially dark place in the German post-war experience. Although the abuse itself was well known, it was almost never discussed in the first person. No German woman had written about her experiences of abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers under her own name until this year. (A few anonymous books have been written, most famously A Woman in Berlin, and a very small number of studies based on interviews with survivors have been conducted, though due to unwillingness to talk about that time in Germany’s history, by the time people became willing to discuss the topic many of the original victims were already dead.)
Der Spiegel features an extended article about Gabriele Köpp, the first German woman to write a memoir under her own name about these experiences. Köpp is now 80. In 1945, she was just 15.
Köpp has now written a book about those 14 days and about the rapes, titled “Warum war ich bloss ein Mädchen?” (“Why Did I Have to Be a Girl?”). The book is an unprecedented document, because it is the first work of its kind written voluntarily by a woman who was raped in the final months of World War II, and who, years later, described the experiences and made them into the central theme of a book….
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Something for the weekend. We’ll Fight For Uncle Sam sung to the tune Whiskey in the Jar. A nice tribute to the Irish volunteers who were a mainstay of the Union Army of the Potomac. The song is also celebratory of George Brinton McClellan who led the Army of the Potomac in 1861-62. Little Mac was a good organizer and he made sure his men were well fed and clothed. He took care of his men and they were fond of him as a result. Unfortunately, although not a bad strategist, he was a lousy battlefield commander. During the battles of the Seven Days, though McClellan outnumbered the Confederates under Lee, he allowed Lee to take the initiative and force him back from Richmond. At Antietam, in spite of enjoying better than two to one odds, McClellan’s uncoordinated attacks blew a prime opportunity for the Army of the Potomac to destroy Lee’s army. As a battlefield commander McClellan was worse than having no commander at all. Read the rest of this entry »