Wednesday 23 March 2016

Frau Komm! Two Words That Every German Woman Dreaded to Hear

"They raped every German woman from eight to 80." (Antony Beever)

"Frau Komm!" was the command that every German woman dreaded to hear from a Red Army soldier.  My husband's Oma told me that rape was so rampant in East Prussia during the Russian Offensive of early 1945 that within a year, about 1 in 4 babies born in one East Prussian town was half German, half Russian.  These infants, called "Russenbabies", were sometimes abandonned, the shame of the rape too much to bear for their mothers.  According to history Laurence Rees, author of World War Two:  Behind Closed Doors, "Stalin explicitly condoned it [rape] as a method of rewarding the soldiers and terrorizing German civilians." (

Rape is often part of war, however, not usually on such a scale.  According to historian Antony Beever, "They [the Red Army] raped every German woman from eight to 80."  Not only vengeance but also alcohol fuelled the invading soldiers.  Beever points out that despite their horrific behaviour, Russian soldiers still saw themselves as above their German counterparts.  "When gang-raped women in Koenigsberg begged their attackers to put them out of their misery, the Red Army men appeared to have felt insulted.  'Russian soldiers do not shoot women,'" one responded.  'Only German soldiers do that'." (

It wasn't just East Prussian women who were raped.  The Red Army continued their rampage across Germany as the Wehrmacht retreated.  The memoir A Woman in Berlin is the anonymous account of a female journalist's traumatic experience in the German capital in the closing stages of the Second World War.  Reported in 2003 to be about journalist Marta Hillers, she was gang raped by Soviet soldiers and sought out a Russian officer to sleep with to "protect" her from the gangs.  Originally published as Eine Frau in Berlin in 1953, the book was either ignored or reviled by most Germans. Republished in 2003 in Germany, the same book met with critical acclaim and sat on the bestseller's list for 19 weeks.

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