The Silent Aftermath of the Second World War - Ethical Loneliness in Rape Survivors

University essay from Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS)

Abstract: This thesis engages with the issue of the post-WWII rapes of women in Germany committed by the soldiers of the winning parties that occupied Germany after the war. It asks how female survivors of sexual violence during the occupation of Germany in 1945-1949 experienced social responses towards their violation. It pursues these responses in public and private sphere and explores the effect they had on the survivors and their recovery. A qualitative method of thematic analysis is employed to analyse the material consisting of interviews based on secondary sources, empirical research done by historians and psychologists, and reliable news articles that address the issue under scrutiny.The thesis contributes to Peace and Conflict Studies empirically, by exploring sensitive civilians’ lived experiences in a particular post-war setting and theoretically, through an attempt at analysis based on the theoretical framing of ethical loneliness as developed by Jill Stauffer.It shows that the predominantly negative nature of social responses in both public and private sphere held to the condition of ethical loneliness that was a crucial hindrance for the survivors’ recovery. The issue of silence is found to be especially relevant as it pertains both to social responses and to the survivors’ own attempt at coping with the situation, thereby emerging as a key reason for the lasting experience of ethical loneliness.

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