Saturday, 28 March 2015

War rape denial

There was an article in the Daily Mail today that, surprisingly, did not feature a Kardashian or EVUL MUZLUMZ.

It was about a genuinely newsworthy issue - a new study, which has suggested the number of women raped by American, British, and other forces in German may have been far higher than previously estimated.

The mass rapes and brutality of the Red Army has been well reported, but the perception has been that, by and large, the Western forces behaved fairly well.  The commentator in the Mail, Walter Guy, puts it thus:
One of the enduring narratives of World War II is that during the invasion of the Third Reich, British and American troops largely behaved well, and it was the soldiers of the Soviet Union's Red Army who raped hundreds of thousands of German females, aged from eight to 80.

However, a new book published in Germany makes the shocking and disturbing claim that the Americans raped a staggering 190,000 women in the decade from the invasion until West Germany became a sovereign country in 1955.

In When The Soldiers Came, historian Professor Miriam Gebhardt also suggests the British raped 45,000 German women, and the French a further 50,000.
That's the received wisdom; and it is the position that Guy sets out to defend.  Sadly, he does not do this by offering any real counter argument.  Instead, he sneers at Professor Gebhardt's credentials, noting "It should be stressed Dr Gebhardt is not a specialist World War II historian, but is better known for her works on other topics, such as the feminist movement in Germany, the philosopher Rudolf Steiner and the history of education."

(Guy Walter, in should be stressed, is not really much of a historian. He has written a few books of fiction and a couple of works tangentially associated with WW2 - see how easy it is to diminish someone's credibility if you are so minded.)

He continues, dismissing her research as "motivated more by some Leftist anti-American agenda than by proper historical inquiry."

Of course, there is no suggestion whatsoever of inappropriate bias or motivation in a piece published in the Daily Mail that sneers at the feminist movement as somehow unworthy of study, and churlishly describes a respected academic as a slave to prejudice.  Because there's none of that in the Daily Mail!

Walter's justifies his rejection by quoting a figure for reported rapes by American troops, and extrapolating from that to reach an estimate of the number of actual rapes:
According to the U.S. Army's figures, American troops carried out 552 rapes in Germany. Even if one applies the 'five per cent rule', then this would mean that the total figure is around 11,000. 
This is a shockingly high number, to be sure, but nowhere near that of nearly 200,000 by U.S. troops alone.
(The '5% rule' is the idea that only 5% of rapes are actually reported by the victims.)

But here, alas, Mr Walters comes undone.  He claims "American troops carried out 552 rapes in Germany" and extrapolates a likely figure for total rapes of 11,000.

But he neglects to mention that the figure of 522 reported rapes is for 1944 to 45 ONLY.  Whereas the study in question covers a ten year period, 1945 to 1955.

Extrapolating from the number of reported rapes and using the 5% rule, and assuming GIs raped at the same rate throughout that period (unlikely, but it is only as a example) the probable figure for reported and unreported rapes would be 110,000. So his central argument is cataclysmically wrong - whatever the figure is, it is likely to be far higher than the 11,000 he postulates.

Further, he rejects Gebhardt's methodology with out actually saying why he thinks it is flawed:
Dr Gebhardt has looked at childbirth statistics in West Germany, and has assumed that five per cent of the children born to unmarried women from 1945 until 1955 were as a result of rape. 
Of these, she says 1,900 were born to American men. 
Even if one were able to accept these assumptions, Dr Gebhardt then takes things to an implausible level. Estimating that for each of these 1,900 births there were 100 rapes, she arrives at her bizarre figure of a total of 190,000 German rape victims.
He doesn't say why he thinks her formula of 100 rapes per birth is too high - he simply says it is and that's that.

It's worth bearing in mind that Gebhardt was using unmarried women as representative of the whole female population - for every unmarried woman raped and impregnated, there would not just be several raped but not impregnated (condoms existed even then, after all) but also married women raped and impregnated, raped and not impregnated, and females either too young or too old to conceive who were raped.

With all this in mind, the figure of 190,000 may be high - but it does not seem as completely outlandish as Mr Walters would like us to think.

So, unless Mr Walters can furnish something more than specious attacks on a fellow academic, and actually explain why her studies are so offensive to reason, I think we can ignore him.

He is, after all, a writer of fictions.

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