Male Rape in Auschwitz? : An Exploration of the Dynamics of Kapo-PiepelSexual Violence in KL Auschwitz during the Holocaust
Abstract: Male-male sexual violence during the Holocaust is under-researched. Despite being a widespread occurrence in the Nazi concentration camps, very few accounts from primary sources are available of the sexual violence perpetrated against the Piepel: male Jewish children, adolescents, and young adults, by male Kapos or senior prisoner functionaries. Until now this phenomenon has been understood to be an exchange of sexual favours for food and protection, but little else was known. This study therefore aims to examine the dynamics of Kapo-Piepelsexual violence in the Auschwitz concentration camp through the perceptions of victims of, and witnesses, to this violence, within a framework of feminist theory, gender and masculinity theory, and group dynamics. Based on written accounts in the form of memoirs and oral testimony from audio-visual archives, this study finds that the Piepelwere forced into sexual relationships to survive; that the Kapos used them as sexual substitutes for women; and that survivors’ attitudes towards the Piepelhave become more sympathetic in more recently published ego-documents. This study therefore calls for a wider examination of this phenomenon, and of male-male sexual violence during the Holocaust, given the resultant improvement in attitudes towards these victims who for too long have not been heard due to the shame and stigma attached to being a male victim of rape.
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