Organized by Stanford University's Norman Naimark and Leonid Gibianskii of the Slavonic and Balkan Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the conference in Moscow will bring together about four dozen historians who have been probing newly opened archives in the former Soviet bloc. They will compare notes and perspectives on the Soviet occupation from 1945 to 1950, immediately after World War II. The conference is funded by the U.S.-based International Research and Exchange Corp. and the Joint Committee on Eastern Europe of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council.
In his own work on the occupation of Eastern Germany, for example, Naimark was astonished to find in the Russian Communist Party archives confirmation of widespread and brutal rapes of German women by occupying Russian soldiers.
The rapes of what appears to be at least hundreds of thousands of German women by Russian soldiers - estimates range up to 2 million - is now getting public attention in Germany, where it is the subject of a new movie and book. The archives indicate the rapes were not ordered or condoned from the top, Naimark said, but were instead fueled by "deep and complex desires for revenge" among the ranks.
American occupation forces also committed some rapes in their initial occupation of Western Germany, Naimark said, but it was not nearly so widespread in part because "prostitution was legal in the West, and there was lots of prostitution, semi-prostitution and informal liaisons."
Stanford University News Service