Salon debate on Red-Army' rape (18 July 2009)


As the film makes clear, the Red Army arrives in Berlin in a collective foul mood. Millions of their comrades have died fighting the Germans, who had committed numerous atrocities during their occupation of the Ukraine and western Russia. None of that justifies raping civilian women, but it clearly created a climate where indiscriminate anti-German violence was seen as pure payback. (Andrew O’Hehir, Rape in Berlin: Facing the Truth, Salon, 17 July 2009)

Why do you rape?

To the rapist, every rape is payback. There aren't some who do it 'cause they're EVIL, and another sort who do it 'cause they believe themselves rather hard done by. Hitler was put in power, we remember, to undo the shame of Versailles. If you're going to start excusing--or, sorry, make understandable--Russian' rape, please make an effort to do the same with the Nazis (if you dare), just so there isn't any doubt as to what you're up to.

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All rape (of women) is done by men to revenge themselves upon mother-substitutes, for incestual handling, sadistic treatment they suffered from their mothers when they (i.e., men) were infants/children. It is about revenge, as O'Hehir gets at, but it's in response to way earlier shaming--and not (primarily) from men. Mothers aren't to blame. When you are not loved, you will use your children as playthings, you will let them know their role is to give love to you, that they are bad when they focus on their own needs; and when they grow up, they will turn on someone ideal seeming someone else, for revenge. What do you think wars are all about? Further exploration of this view of rape (and war) as revenge, found at sig.

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Okay, we've got a lot of people writing how "the Germans deserved it" because of what "they" did to the Russians. Suppose this is the case.

Then WHY do acts performed by the German military, ordered by the German civilian leadership, need to be revenged upon the German WOMEN back home? Who didn't participate in the war effort (unlike American women)? Who were not armed? Who were, in fact, disturbingly vulnerable at the end of the war, once the civilian law enforcement authority was gone?

Why should "revenge" be carried out on those who were neither culpable nor able to defend themselves? Why is it always okay to rape and abuse the WOMEN of the conquered?

That's the real question. (Zandru, response to post, Andrew O’Hehir, “Rape in Berlin”)

Two bits from Lloyd deMause's Emotional Life of Nations (link at sig.)

War, then, is the act of restaging early traumas for the purpose of maternal revenge and self purification. Wars are clinical emotional disorders, periodic shared psychotic episodes of delusional organized butchery intended--like homicide--to turn a severe "collapse of self esteem" into "a rage to achieve justice." Wars are both homicidal and suicidal--every German in 1939 who cheered Hitler on as he promised to start an unwinnable world war against overwhelming opposing nations knew deep down they were committing suicide. Like all homicides and suicides, wars are reactions to our failed search for love, magical gestures designed to ensure love through projection into enemies, by "knocking the Terrifying Mommy off her pedestal" and by "killing the Bad Boy self." As Kernberg puts its, violence occurs only when "the world seems to be split between those who side with the traumatizing object and those who support the patient's wishes for a revengeful campaign against the traumatizing object." Thus the early crisis in maternal love, which had been internalized during childhood in Terrifying Mommy and Bad Boy alters, is resolved by acting out on the historical stage the revenge against the Terrifying Mommy and by the wiping out of the Bad Boy self.

[. . .]

RIGHTEOUS RAPE OF MOTHER SUBSTITUTES Even though wars are supposed to be fought between men, they have equally affected women and children. In most wars, more civilians are killed than soldiers, and, according to UNICEF, "in the wars fought since World War II 90 percent of all victims are found in the civilian population, a large share of them women and children." In our imaginations, however, wars are mainly about women and children. Divine wars were always fought for a goddess of war, from Ishtar to Teshub, almost always mothers of the war heroes,"crying to be fed...human blood." Even the Hebrew Lord counsels Moses to "kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the virgin girls keep alive for yourselves [to rape]." Yanomamo war raids might kill a few men in raids, but would abduct all enemy women and rape them. Child murder and rape were the center of ancient war. The Greeks often used to rape all virgin girls and boys in wars and often trod all children of a city to death under the feet of oxen or covered them with pitch and burned them alive. As van Creveld puts it, "During most of history, the opportunity to engage in wholesale rape was not just among the rewards of successful war but, from the soldier's point of view, one of the cardinal objectives for which he fought.”

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I believe that's the first time I quoted someone at length, during my time here. And if I do it again, not more than once every blue moon (and I'll try for never). Sometimes there's occasion, but most times it's rude, unequal to the poster and to those who read/chance upon the post.

Why the innocent?--which felt like a plaintive plea--drew it out.

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re: "Why women and children"

Wow. Thanks, Patrick McEvoy-Halston.

Your quotes make sense - but they're probably not what most men would believe about themselves or their motives. (Zandru, Response to post, “Rape in Berlin”)

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I find it funny just how morally superior everyone here is. My God, if only YOU people had been there to fight the war it would all have been different..

I especially love the women here who will never ever have to be drafted, shoved into the front lines, watch comrades die by the thousands, fight through every possible fear and degradation while hoping, praying that you not only survive but that the fate of your mother, your father, your sisters back home all rely on you sit in judgement of these men.

These men were destroyed in that war, and much as I hope humanity never, ever goes through that again, I will not, now from the comfort of my home, sit here and pretend I am superior because I find what they did repulsive to me.

Go fight a grueling war as all these MEN did, and lets see how much of your ethics and mental stability you have left by the end of it. (6stringer, response to post, “Rape in Berlin)


So if the depressions worsens, worsens, and we all go through a lot. Not what soldiers go through, mind you, but a lot--a hell of a lot. Then if we rape: screw all who "sit at home," who judge but cannot understand?

You romance the warrior's lot, rather have us understand it. All men are drawn to bear warriors' scars.

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@Patrick McEvoy-Halston

In which way did I ever say rape was justified or something we should aspire to?

You want to argue a point, then pick one I actually made, not one you feel like fabricating.

My point was clear... Men, reduced to animal natures by war are not going to act like normal, healthy people.. Women are also mentally wounded and do things they otherwise would not do under duress in times of war. Its only the smug, morally superior here who like to think they somehow would have been different.

And if I am in love with some romantic warrior image, you then are in love with your Enlightened GodLike superiority. Fact is, in the same position, in the same time, in the same era, you would have been no better, no different..and I suspect much worse than most. (6stringer, response to post, “Rape in Berlin”)


I like empathy for, real reach to, understand/assess psychological effects of constant war. I love it when people attend, with respect and love, to those we are directed to simply hate and quickly discard/disregard. But, to me, that wasn't what you were JUST up to.

I admit that what I mostly felt from your piece, is the WHY we get so many Hollywood films which feature battered, stressed, drawn-out, scar-bearing warriors: it's an empowered "position." Brought to "your" knees, humiliated, stressed and tested to the extent of human forbearance, you NOW can go all righteous against the "clean" and judgmental, with the expectation that they ought to, that they can bloody well be made to!, back down. All that wearing down seems to me to lend considerable over-all swagger, which enables all kinds of things "you" might actually really want, but in normal circumstances are too readily shut down, through judgment.

I never feel when I read pieces like the like of what you wrote (not that I just blended in your response with a whole pile of others), that "you" REALLY believe that war is something we ought to avoid--I always smell opportunity, reason for its continuance. I'm not sure if that's a kind thing to say, but it's how I feel.

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@ Patrick

I'm glad thats how you "feel". After all how you "feel" about what I wrote, and how you get to interpret whatever you want onto what I write says more about you, than it does about me. Doesn't it?

As well as your need to see this theory of yours in everything you read. Its easy to feel right, and self righteous when you get to just go by what you "feel" people mean, than by what they are actually saying.

Or is that unkind to write?

Or maybe, its your, as well as others, need to feel superior that lends you to think you would have behaved any differently, or that you would have been any better had you lived the same circumstances as these people did. And maybe that need to feel superior to others comes more from your fears? Of what you WOULD do under that kind of duress, of what you ARE capable of.

Or maybe we should just throw out every verbose theory we can, just as long as we continue to reduce people to abstractions, and not actual real, living, human beings put in a situation that drove many people mad, insane, and crazy.

Let me make my point easy for you.

These men and boys, conscripted to fight, weren't playing war games to be heros. They were FORCED into it, as most men are. And that draft is just as much, if not more, of a rape of a mans mind, body and soul as the actual rapes of these women were.

That is what you, and many of the posters here cannot begin to understand, so busy are you all standing on your pedestals. Just as every man in America today is RAPED at the age of 18 when he signs a draft- or better said, he is informed of the intent to rape if ever society deems it is time to use his body as a gear for the war machine. And he has about as much choice in the matter as the women who are raped.

There is no big mystery of the Terrible Mother here. There is no deep psychology of Purity cleansing. Or even romancing the Warrior.. It is simple, men are violently conscripted by society (men and women) to fight. Where their bodies and existence are used up. So when they get to the people who they feel caused their trauma, they inflict the same anger onto them.. rape, murder, degradation.

But to see this, you must see men as human beings, capable of being traumatized, raped, used... and who wants to do that when we can use the occasion to paint men as war/rape loving animals.. right? (6stringer, response to post, “Rape in Berlin”)


I'm not judging them. I'm all for the empathy and interest, you advocate for. My concern in regard to your responses is about men who USE abuse/disregard to justify, to muscularly legitimize, that which would otherwise be estimated (at the very, very best) "bad behavior," to what normally is readily shut down by "polite" society. Again in your response, you evidence the same. You set me up as uppity, someone unattentful, someone on a pedestal with little regard for those beneath him, and fire away. This is to your regret, not to your preference? The writing doesn't show as much.

In fact I would say it works toward making my "point" that rape is revenge and a delight to worn-out "soldiers," who've simply had enough of "betters" uninterested in showing any regard for "soldier's" needs, their plight, their sacrifice, their pains, their personhood. Every war X-box game, every Hollywood action movie, features some slighted warrior who effects some kind of huge humiliation on those uninterested in feeling his pain. This fact deserves attention; deserves to be explored with the interest you rightly argue is owed to those whose monstrosity is wholly owed to trauma.

That is, if it's respect for the soldier, genuine interest/concern as to what war-experience brings (though, again, to me experiences that most greatly affect us occur way, way earlier in life--war is cover), I'm with you. If it's respect for a narrative that can help lend momentum to a turn against women, better-than-thous, the girly-seeming, I'm not.



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