Race, Rape and Gender in Nazi-Occupied Territories Race, Rape and Gender in Nazi-Occupied Territories

Race, Rape and Gender in Nazi-Occupied Territories

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Publisher Description

Despite the vast historiography of the Second World War, scholars have long overlooked sexual violence committed by the German military in the occupied territories. Using a linguistic analysis of court documents, this dissertation examines cases against German soldiers accused of rape, attempted rape, child abuse, and violations of the law against homosexuality, as well as cases against ethnic Germans and Poles in the occupied territories, to determine how Nazi racial and gender ideology affected the determination of punishment. The documents clearly demonstrate the importance of gender ideology, particularly constructs of heterosexual masculinity, in the sentencing proceedings. Men were evaluated as men; as soldiers; and as Germans, as members of the Volk. Ethnic Germans were also subject to the same evaluation, but Poles were not offered mitigating circumstances because of the threat the judges believed they posed to German women. Women too were evaluated, and the degree to which the judges thought they acted in accordance with normative gender roles affected the determination of punishment. What had an unpredictable effect, however, was the alleged racial quality of the woman assaulted by the German soldier; it mattered less what her “racial quality” was than whether she conformed to gendered behavioral expectations, and whether the German soldier did as well. Racial ideology was most definitely a factor in sex crimes cases, but more so in expectations placed upon soldiers as German men than in discussions of the “racial inferiority” of women. What the court-martial documents illustrate is that Nazi racial ideology was incoherent and unstable, with high-ranking members of the Party and the military incapable of establishing who should be considered racially inferior and what that should mean in the sentencing of men accused of sex crimes. The documents further illustrate the importance of gender ideology to the determination of sentencing. Lastly, this dissertation argues that the courts-martial functioned as the site of the discursive creation and negotiation of the most important identity of the regime, the Nazi German man.

18 May