By Mail Foreign Service. Swapping stockings for kisses and teaching girls how to jive, American GIs were meant to be a welcome ray of sunshine in war-torn Europe. American soldiers seen here who are not related to the book's content disembarking from Coast Guard landing craft at the shores of Normandy. In an explosive book, Roberts claims that some soldiers terrified French citizens.
German military brothels in World War II
NPR Choice page
The years leading up to World War II and during the conflict saw great changes in the sexual habits of European societies. In the occupation years, as the French dealt with their humiliating defeat and surrender, the morality of sex in the Vichy occupation changed. Local cinemas and even subway stations became locations for anonymous physical trysts during Allied bombings. Within Germany in the s, many German Protestants and Catholics shared the view that Jewish people were responsible for the sexual immorality that pervaded Weimar Culture. Until that time, many bars frequented by members of the Sturmabteilung were well known as gay bars, and there was no perceived tension between activism espousing greater rights for homosexuals and right-wing politics. All of that would change, however, when the virulently homophobic Heinrich Himmler became one of the most powerful people in the Reich. By the end of the war, approximately , men had been prosecuted for same-sex behavior.
European sexuality leading up to and during World War II
Until , there were around military brothels of this kind in German-occupied Europe. The Foreign Ministry of the Polish Government in Exile issued a document on May 3, , describing the mass kidnapping raids conducted in Polish cities with the aim of capturing young women for sexual slavery at brothels run by the German military. One of the soldiers pulls out a pocket flashlight and shines it on one of the women, straight into her eyes. The two women turn their pale faces to us, expressing weariness and resignation. The first one is about 30 years old.
When both came back positive, the officer ordered her committed to a federally run quarantine center in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The problem was, treating STDs at the time was often a lengthy and involved process. Penicillin was first used as a treatment for syphilis in , but it was scarce for civilians during the war—the more common treatment at that time was a regular injection of arsenic-based drugs, administered once a week for up to a year. Gonorrhea could be cured with a round of pills, but even that required careful adherence to the dosing schedule in order to work. Counting on such a high degree of cooperation was too much of a gamble.