A Silenced History: Sexual Violence in the Holocaust

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2023-05

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Abstract

Throughout the Shoah, a variety of atrocities occurred that not only systematically eliminated millions of Jews but as well as degraded them to lose all sense of hope in humanity and in themselves. One of those atrocities committed against Holocaust victims is sexual violence such as rape, sexual barter, medical experiments and more. Since the end of the Shoah, many victims remained silent from sharing their experiences due to humiliation and shame. It was not until the 1970’s when historians began bringing to light the topic of sexuality in the Holocaust. This thesis demonstrates the various methods of sexual violence enacted towards, female, male, and child victims during the Shoah. It is important to recognize the Holocaust as a whole, so we must look at all the various atrocities committed. This research brings a voice to those who were unable or too scared to come forward and talk about what had occurred to them and bring justice to those who were forcibly silenced by their perpetrators. Many believed it was not appropriate to study sexuality in the Holocaust because they felt it would take away from the overall genocide of millions of victims. Understanding sexuality during the Shoah brings to light all the atrocities committed towards women, men, and children; no one was immune to these crimes. The use of survivor testimonies and scholarly works from historians enables a deeper understanding of sexuality during the Holocaust. While Holocaust survivors were finally liberated, and the war ended, this did not mean that sexual violence ended along with it. Sexual violence and its trauma continue to be a scourge as demonstrated through survivor testimonies and second-generation survivors. Bringing light to the topic of sexual violence during the Shoah not only gives a voice to those who were victimized but expands the knowledge in the field and inspire future historians to further expand our knowledge and understanding of this field.

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Sexual Violence

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