During the Allied troops entry and occupation of German territory during the later stages of World War II, it is alleged that mass rapes were committed by Allied Forces.

The Telegraph reported:

Elderly victims have come forward to reveal the horrors of abuse committed by the Soviet soldiers. [...] An estimated two million women faced savage, multiple attacks [...]

Military historian and author of Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Antony Beevor, said

in Berlin alone it was estimated up to 130,000 women were raped, of whom up to 10,000 committed suicide.

However, Russian historians have criticized the estimates and argue that these crimes were not widespread since the Soviet military leadership signed an executive order on 19 January 1945 that demanded the prevention of cruel treatment of the local population.

So did rape by the Soviet troops during the occupation of Germany occur in the huge numbers described above?

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    What sort of evidence are you hoping to get that isn't covered by the Wikipedia page?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 12:15
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    The 1 star comments section from the Amazon customer review for the book "Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947" notes it to be a Nazi propaganda lies, so want to know the historian accepted facts for the event! Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 12:25
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    It wasn't only Soviet troops but also U.S. servicemen are alleged to have committed rapes at gunpoint. It would be good if the question title is changed to Allied forces rather than Soviet soldiers alone! Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 12:31
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    There are sections in your quoted Wikipedia reference for US, British and French troops. Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 13:48
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    I don't quite understand the edit but, pericles316, if you're also interested in similar figures for other factions, it might be worth asking a separate question for the others. That way you'll get focused answers. Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


I think the problem here is not so much the issue in and of itself, but the numbers. With the German authorities deposed and the Allied (especially Soviet) authorities not really being trusted by the population, we're facing a potentially huge number of unreported / undocumented cases, and estimates about them.

Those are hard (impossible) to reliably source. All you can source is the people making those estimates.

Naimark actually says the very same thing:

"It is highly improbable that historians will ever know how many [...] were raped."

(Norman M. Naimark: The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1995, p. 132 f.)

Two million is about the upper limit I have come across, actually an estimate for the Russian sector alone up until 1947.

(Christine Eifler, Krieg - Gewalt - Geschlecht, in: Krieg, Geschlecht, Traumatisierung. Publisher Medica mondiale e.V. / Marlies W. Fröse / Ina Volpp-Teuscher. Frankfurt a.M. 1999, 87-95, 91.)

That number is critizised, as "definitely overstated" for example by Miriam Gebhardt. Starting with 8,600 children born by rape victims (in the whole of Germany), she estimates about 860,000 cases, about half of them by Russian soldiers.

(Miriam Gebhardt: Als die Soldaten kamen. Die Vergewaltigung deutscher Frauen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs. DVA, München 2015, p. 32 f.)

Cornelius Ryan, in his book "The Last Battle" (Collins, London 1966), states that doctors he talked to estimated between 20,000 and 100,000 cases of rape. (Though time range and area of that estimate is unclear from the secondary source I have -- and those are doctors, not historians or policemen or whatever, and from the Allied side of what rapidly turned into the frontline of the new cold war.)

So, even without making any estimates, and using Gebhart's number of children born to victims, we have almost ten thousand known cases.

The various estimates then go forth adding various factors of

  • women who did not make it known their child was the result of rape,
  • women who died during or after the ordeal, from injury or suicide,
  • women who didn't conceive or miscarried (conception is not exactly the purpose of a rape in the first place)

to arrive at their numbers.

On the other hand, we have the Russian counter-claims that the practice was "not widespread" because there was an order against it... leaving aside the question of how well that order was actually enforced by the local officers, "not widespread" (if that is indeed the Russian wording) is somewhat of a weasel word (no offense intended).

Karl Bahm for example, historian at the University of Wisconsin, states that "of course not everybody behaved this way, but a not too small minority did". (Karl Bahm: Berlin 1945. Die letzte Schlacht des Dritten Reichs. Klagenfurt 2002, p. 159 f.)

In an army of (literally) millions, how much of a "not too small minority" or "not widespread" habit does it take?

So, to answer your question:

...did rape by the Soviet troops during the occupation of Germany occur in the huge numbers described above?

In exactly the numbers described? We cannot say. The two million number is on the high side of estimates.

In significant numbers, big enough to be called "huge"? Yes.

For the sake of political correctness:

There are various orders by the German high command that, if not actually encouraging sexual violence by Wehrmacht soldiers, did discourage persecution and punishment, at least in the east. (Order of the OKW 1940-07-05, Kriegsgerichtsbarkeitserlass 1941-05-13)

Nevertheless, there are 5,349 convictions of German soldiers for "acts of indecency" on file.

(Birgit Beck: Wehrmacht und sexuelle Gewalt. Sexualverbrechen vor deutschen Militärgerichten 1939–1945. Paderborn 2004, p. 326 f.)

How many actual cases that amounts to is anybody's guess.

One does not excuse the other.

All sources lifted from the German Wikipedia articles on the subject, i.e. The Battle of Berlin # Aftermath and Sexual Violence in WWII, and paraphrased into English by myself.

  • "German high command that, if not actually encouraging sexual violence by Wehrmacht soldiers, did discourage persecution and punishment". What about Waffen-SS?
    – vartec
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 1:26
  • @vartec: That distinction is only useful where it's useful. You think the Waffen-SS was held to a stricter code of ethics? I don't.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 5:36
  • Actually I think the opposite. There have been reports of rapes by Waffen-SS, not necessarily German ones though. Allegedly Cossack Waffen-SS was particularly known for their cruelty.
    – vartec
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 5:42
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    @vartec: This is Skeptics.SE. Do you have sources that add significant insight? Not that I disagree, but I am disinclined to "chat" about the subject, if you excuse.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 5:48
  • "So, even without making any estimates, and using Gebhart's number of children born to victims, we have almost ten thousand known cases." Is her claim about rape births limited to those who were victims of Allied/Soviet soldiers? The quote from her own claim in the answer estimates "about half" were from Soviet soldiers. Were the rest primarily or entirely also Allied soldiers? Or is that number including all rape victims in Germany at the time, including those raped by other Germans (or anyone other than Allied/Soviet soldiers?)
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 2:26

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