Role Reversal

After the US invasion of Germany in 1945, the US troops committed numerous rapes in, among others, Upper Bavaria. Some victims of the Nazi regime took the opportunity to avenge their suffering.

In some cases the liberated forced workers led the GIs to the rape victims — a particularly perfidious revenge on the former German slave holders. Under the occupation it’s the Germans now who become defenseless victims without any rights.

You can find more information about the violence of American troops against civilians in Europe here.

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American troops in Bavaria at the end of WWII

It is pillaging, devastation, and acts of violence, including rapes that accompany the invasion of the Americans in the Upper Bavaria. Soldiers of the wealthiest country on earth enter houses in every village. First, they look for enemy soldiers and weapons. They use the occasion to collect watches and bicycles, take radios, cameras, binoculars, jewelry, silverware, pocket knives, lighters as souvenir, confiscate liquor, food reserves (especially eggs) and even living animals. Then they rape, often in a group, one or multiple times, sequentially.
American courts that investigated some of these crimes later discovered a pattern in them: At night, two soldiers enter a house at the outskirts of a village. One of the two soldiers has a gun. They both go into the second floor where the women sleep. The armed soldier takes a woman down to the ground floor and closes the door. The women are raped one after another. The soldiers leave the house. On their way home they tell other soldiers, where they can find women.

You can find more information about the violence of American troops against civilians in Europe here.

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Rapes committed by Americans in Moosburg an der Isar, Germany

Moosburg an der Isar is located 45 kilometers to the North-East of Munich, next to today’s airport in Erdinger Moos. At the end of the war, in 1945, it’s a town with 10,000 inhabitants.


Six days before the end of the war the mayor Hermann Müller (who holds this position since 1933) decides to surrender to the victors without fighting. On April 29th, 1945 American negotiators appear in the town in order to negotiate the surrender. At the beginning, everything runs smoothly. The commander and the mayor agree and arrange a capitulation. But on the next day, a Sunday, the Waffen-SS begins to build entrenchments. An American officer is outraged: “That’s what a word of honor of a German officer is worth.” American tanks slowly approach the town.

At 10:15 the fight of Moosburg begins. The SS gives way to superior might and retreats behind a bridge over the river Amper. The inhabitants sit in their basements. Grenades explode. One of the church towers is being shot at. Fires break out. There is a fight on the square in front of the church. First GIs appear in the courtyard of a parsonage. The square in front of the monastery is full of tanks. At a distance, the fights continue. The SS retreated over the Isar river and blowed up the Isar bridge. One part of German soldiers hides in the houses. Later it turns out that two teenage members of Hitler Youth shot at American tanks from revolvers.


The Americans begin to plunder the town with exceptional brutality. When someone doesn’t open the door voluntarily, they are blown up. Then the troops pillage the houses from the basement to warehouse. They take not only food, but everything that fits into bags made from duvet covers. Entire wheelbarrows full of stuff change owners: egg boxes, cheese from the dairy, beds, mattresses, quilts, preserving jars, frying pans, and many other things. Gasping, the American soldiers carry heavy loads on their backs. On their belts hangs dead poultry. In one basement they stumble upon 80,000 liters of wine. They carry it out in bathtubs, washtubs, milk cans, and buckets. The pillaging lasts for eight days. But that’s not all.

On Monday, the first day of conquest, first reports of rapes reach the pastor of Moosburg Alois Schiml. When the GIs enter a house where there are men, these are chased away at gunpoint or knife. One or two accomplices stand on guard. Several girls jump from the second floor on the street and lie injured there. Other women search refuge in the clergyman’s house. One of the halls there is transformed into a dormitory.

American military government issues an order, according to which a list of all inhabitants with their names and age must be nailed on doors of every house. “It is easy to guess, which consequences this decree had. 17 girls and women who were raped by Negroes one or multiple times were admitted to the hospital. Other girls and women come to the office hours of the doctor. In the adjacent village Volkmannsdorf black Americans raped a woman as well.” The pastor writes.

The fate of one maid is particularly shocking for him. The girl is raped by a white GI who wears a steel helmet. She has been melancholic before. During the following days she gets paranoid, especially when she sees a steel helmet. She receives asylum in the clergyman’s house. After her mood seemingly improves, she wants to return home. A couple of days later, she attempts to kill herself by falling from the third floor of her house. She is delivered into the hospital, into the “madman’s cell” as it was called back then. After about two weeks she is allowed to leave the cell, but her fellow patients keep an eye on her. One afternoon she sees three American soldiers wearing steel helmets enter the hospital. Panicking, she runs into the fourth floor and jumps, her head hits the paved surface. There she remains lying, covered with blood and unconscious. An American military doctor examines the girl and detects a fracture of the skull, which runs from the back of the head to the forehead. But she doesn’t seem to have any inner injuries. On August 1st, 1945, Schiml reports: “She is still alive, is geting better and is mentally healthy again.”

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Copulation without conversation is not fraternization

Rape and robbery were committed by the Western Allies as well. […] War correspondent Omar White had been with General George Patton’s Third US Army as it moved through southern Germany in April 1945. He said frankly:

Even before American troops reached the big concentration camps in which death squads specialized in the murder of Jews and Slavs, and the world learned the meaning of Hitler’s promise to arrive at a ‘final solution’, the fighting men who stormed into Germany were angry and in a vengeful mood. They had found out in France and Belgium, at first hand, about Nazi atrocities. Few wavered in the conviction that the Germans they killed deserved their fate, or that the survivors had little right to human consideration. At first, the treatment of German civilians was harsh. General Eisenhower’s broadcast proclamation — ‘We come as conquerors’ — implied the right of military commanders to requisition whatever accommodation remained intact in half demolished towns. The aged, the sick, the very young, were often driven out into the ruins to fend for themselves.
I heard one idea expressed again and again: ‘The only way to teach these krauts that war doesn’t pay is to kick them about the way they kicked other people about.’ And conquest tacitly implied the right to booty. The victorious troops appropriated whatever portable enemy property they fancied: liquor and cigars, cameras, binoculars, shotguns and sporting rifles, ceremonial swords and daggers, silver ornaments and plate and fur garments. This sort of petty looting was known as ‘liberating’ or ‘souvenir-ing’. Military police looked the other way. The men felt that they were handing out rough justice — morally valid retribution — to a race whose armies had plundered Europe for nearly five years.
But after the fighting moved onto German soil there was also a good deal of rape by combat troops and those immediately following them. The incidence varied between unit and unit according to the attitude of the commanding officer. In some cases offenders were identified, tried by court martial and punished. The army legal branch was reticent, but admitted that for brutal or perverted sexual offences against German women, some soldiers had been shot. Yet I know for a fact that many women were raped by American troops and no action was taken against the culprits. In one sector a report went round that a certain very distinguished army commander had made the wisecrack: ‘Copulation without conversation does not constitute fraternization.’

Michael, Jones, “After Hitler: The Last Days of the Second World War in Europe”

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American troops and the Austrian National Bank

The American colonel Georg von Halban had a difficult task in early summer of 1945 in destroyed Vienna: He had to confiscate a large, undestroyed, representative building for the future center of the American occupational authorities. The Austrian national bank seemed ideal to him and his superiors agreed. The massive building was confiscated in a “festive” manner.

Only one director refused to move out. He occupied an apartment in the highest floor of the building. Halban came to him, accompanied by four Viennese policemen. He asked the bank director to leave. He turned away. Halban gave a sign to the policement. They pushed a piano to the window. The banker looked at it and was stunned.

When the other two policemen moved a couch to the window as well, the banker understood the seriousness of the situation. But it was too late. Without further ado, the piano was pushed out of the window and was smashed by a fall from a five-story building.

“I understand now.” The bank director said. “First the Russians, now you.”

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