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New Film Confronts Massive Rapes of German Women in WWII


From the local.

One of the long-ignored chapters of World War II hit German screens this month with a harrowing account of the mass rapes of German women by Russian soldiers as the Nazi regime crumbled around them. “Anonyma – A Woman in Berlin” stars A-list German actress Nina Hoss and has returned a victim’s anonymous diary to the forefront of an extremely tentative debate about German suffering during and after the war.

“There were tens of thousands (of rape victims) – that is for certain. Perhaps even hundreds of thousands,” US historian Norman Naimark, director of the Center for European Studies at Stanford, told German weekly Die Zeit. “Some estimates go up to two million if you include all the Eastern European territories with German populations.”

The new film by Max Faerberboeck, 58, was inspired by the intimate journal a Berlin woman kept from April 20 to June 22, 1945 in which she recounts the excruciating hunger and repeated violations she suffered in the vanquished German capital. The chilling journal was first published in the United States in 1954 and then in several other countries before arriving in West German bookstores in 1959 thanks to a small Swiss publishing house.

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