German Wikipedia says that until 1944 5394 German soldiers were convicted for "moral crimes", but

  • the Wehrmacht leadership regarded that sexual crimes in accordance with the racial ideology (ideologically, the purpose of German invasion of the Soviet Union was the extinction of racially "inferior" peoples, incl. but not limited to Russians and Jews; sexual violence humiliated the enemy, hence helped achieve the goals of the war) and
  • on July 5th, 1940, an order was issued according to which rapes to Soviet citizens had to be punished in the mildest possible way (if this is true, we may assume that those 5000+ are the worst offenders, not regular ones).

Are there any estimates?

  • @SJuan76 thank you :-) I have read 1944 5394 as a whole number :-) – Gangnus Mar 27 '18 at 7:51

TL;DR version: Between 442 462 and 1 245 450 people in all countries of the Eastern Front.

Long version

Warning: I believe a bad estimate is better than no estimate at all and I'm aware of the flaws of this "method". If you know a better one, I'm all ears. Maybe you can take these calculations and improve them.

Miriam Gebhardt writes in her book Als die Soldaten kamen: Die Vergewaltigung deutscher Frauen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges (German, "When the soldiers came: Rapes of German women at the end of World War II) that

  • at least 190 000 German women were raped by American troops (positions 60 and 459 of 5321 in the Kindle edition of the book above),
  • 50 000 by the French (pos. 459),
  • 45 000 by the British,
  • 15 000 by the Soviets and
  • 10 000 by the Belgians.

We can estimate the number of rapes per soldier. The author of that book writes that the maximum number of troops stationed in Germany was, at its peak,

  • 600 000 for US (beginning of 1946, pos. 312 of 5321) and
  • 400 000 for the British (pos. 325 of 5321).

No data is available in the book for the French and Belgians. The data for the Soviets (1 500 000 in 1945, 800 000 in 1949) is available, but looks suspicious to me (reason see below).

From these data we can calculate the estimate of rapes per soldier:

  • 190 000 rapes / 600 000 troops = 0,3167 rapes per soldier
  • 45 000 rapes / 400 000 troops = 0,1125

For the Soviets that estimate would be an order of estimate lower, which doesn't look believable to me.

If we assume that the Germans in the Soviet Union raped with roughly the same intensity as the Americans and the British in Germany, we can get an estimate by multiplying rapes per soldier by the strength of the German troops in the Soviet Union. This assumption can be justified by the claim that ideas about sexual violence at war used by the Nazis and the Allies were similar: Regina Mühlhäuser writes in her paper Eine Frage der Ehre. Anmerkungen zur Sexualität deutscher Soldaten während des Zweiten Weltkriegs (German; "A question of honor // Notes about the sexuality of German soldiers during World War II"):

In the middle of the 20th century Göring's argumentation was in accordance with the values and norms system in Europe and the USA.


In 1946 [acts of sexual violence] were considered by the Allies not as a crime to be punished, but as a natural side effect of the war.

According to Wikipedia there were 3 933 000 German troops on the Eastern Front.

This results in following estimates of German rapes in the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yougslavia (and other German adversaries on the Eastern Front):

  • 3 933 000 troops * 0,3167 rapes per American soldier = 1 245 450 rapes
  • 3 933 000 troops * 0,1125 rapes per British soldier = 442 463 rapes

For comparison: According to Miriam Gebhardt, 860 000 German women were raped between 1945 and 1955 in all Germany (Eastern and Western), by all occupational powers.

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    "In 1946 [acts of sexual violence] were considered by the Allies not as a crime to be punished, but as a natural side effect of the war." Had attitudes changed so much in 20 years? In WWI, my grandfather's unit, was approaching a village, when the OC warned "There will be women here: if you men have any ideas - " patting his revolver to indicate the consequences. – TheHonRose Mar 26 '18 at 4:21
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    @PhillS It does - did you read to the very end? It attempts to extrapolate an answer to the question from Allied records. This is not what I would call rigorous scholarship, but it does attempt to answer the question. – Semaphore Mar 26 '18 at 7:27
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    While this is a rather sensible attempt at answering the question, it leaves a lot of uncertainty. The main issue is that you take rapes by British and USA soldiers and assume that the rate of rape by Germans has to be between those values. But the fact that the rate varies so much between British and USA soldiers (2,5 times) tells us that variation may be too much for such an assumption (how do you know that it is not the USA rate the one that goes between the British and the German rates?). – SJuan76 Mar 26 '18 at 17:11
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    Also, this ignores Nazi racial prejudices against slavs, the fact that combat in Russia lasted way more than combat in Germany, and probably other issues. I think that the differences between the two combat fronts are too different to make assumptions from only two data points. – SJuan76 Mar 26 '18 at 17:13
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    I like the idea of extrapolating, but I am afraid, the rules in different countries were too different. Germans photoed themselves at a hangers with women and children. Jews and Gipsies were not living beings for them. And Slavs were as animals. For Soviet soldiers mostly rapes was severely forbidden, except special "free days". Out of these periods, a proved rape meant death punishment. But, if not made obviously, nobody searched. Mostly they used statutory rapes - spread yor legs, or I'll kill your husband/father. Extrapolation across so different situations won't work. – Gangnus Mar 27 '18 at 8:01

Exactly 5394. Exactly.

Rape is not a trans historical phenomena, but a cultural and legal action. Rape as law usually includes ideas about who is a human (can’t rape an underman) and who owns women’s sexuality (can’t rape your wife, can’t really rape a prostitute, etc.). Rape without these contexts is an ahistorical, a political or ideological gesture at which forms of sexual violence ought to be unlawful, not which forms were unlawful in the actual past.

As far as cultures go, two massive state authorities controlled rape on the Eastern Front. One of these state authorities had a fairly clear definition. The question provides the figure for that state. The other state sought to obscure the question of numbers iirc, but it has been 20 years since I read Soviet evidence at Nuremberg and I never wish to reread that.

In the end asking about rape in this way is always about axe grinding a modern politics. It is to ask what ought to be, rather than what was. It might be an ought I may agree with, or disagree with, but that isn’t a historical question.

History does “meaning” far better than numbers. For the Wehrmacht and German state, conducts that were criminal rapes were minimal. War rape was legitimate either for recreation or to racially punish soviet citizens. However as the concept of rape centres, and only centres, on illegitimate sexual violence there is a real danger of imposing modern meanings into the past to the point at which the past itself is obscured.

German military and state forces used sexual violence freely: but it was not rape.

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    1. Sources? 2. Whether we call it "rape" or "sexual violence", which may have value to define and analyse seperately, it is clear, what the question asks for? 3. While nice to read the explanatory rant part, let it please be known here how many 'acts' of "sexual violence" were committed? (Or a src which confirms your "never know" but still takes an educated guess, like for the US and SU related cases) – LаngLаngС Jun 1 '19 at 8:10
  • Do you realize that using the exact same argument, you could claim that the people who died in the holocaust were not murdered, as what happened to them was not "unlawful" in the Nazi regime. – Gort the Robot Jun 1 '19 at 17:15
  • @StevenBurnap no. And exactly not. See Soviet British and US evidence at Nuremberg, states which claimed a force of law over precisely that issue. The Soviet Union even made specific arguments regarding the generalisation of Aktions in the east which it didn’t make in relation to mass sexual violence or rape. – Samuel Russell Jun 2 '19 at 0:30