A new book, What Soldiers Do, written by Professor Mary Louise Roberts, from the University of Wisconsin, has revealed American WWII GIs feared the French as much as the Germans. The book renders an important contribution enabling the public to understand the American Experience during World War II.
Professor Roberts said, ‘my book seeks to debunk an old myth about the GI, thought of as a manly creature that always behaved well. The GIs were having sex anywhere and everywhere.”
The book, What Soldiers Do,focuses on the American soldiers of World War II and their relations with the French people, the dark side of Europe’s liberation after the Second World War. The arrival of US soldiers in France, saw an escalation of rape charges, increase in crime, and reports of generally bad behavior.
The mayor of Le Havre received letters of protest from the locals and an open solicitation for sex with married or unmarried women. They complained of being attacked, robbed, and forced out of their houses. Bombed out buildings, cemeteries, railway tracks and parks were the venues used for their carnal deeds.
The book claims, the US army ‘demonstrated a deep and abiding racism,’ and most of the rape charges were blamed on black GI’s. It was proven that 130 of the 153 troops disciplined by the army were black.
Professor Roberts said, ‘American propaganda did not sell the war to soldiers as a struggle for freedom but as a sexual adventure.’
Today, problems of sexual assault persist in the military; and those in uniform are victims as well. A report of the Department of Defense last year showed a thirty-seven percent increase in reports of unwanted sexual contact. A series of sex-related scandals in recent weeks sent a wave of concern to the Pentagon. Sexual harassment in the military is a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trust.
President Barrack Obama while visiting the US Naval Academy in Maryland told the graduates that sexual assault threatened to erode trust and discipline in America’s forces.
The book, released one day after a Japanese politician roused an international debate by stating that the use of sex slaves during WWII was justified, and accused other countries of using the same practice. He argued that it was necessary to force Asian women into prostitution in order to maintain military discipline and provide relaxation for the soldiers.
Public outcry followed his comments and deflected the criticism by accusing America and Britain of using sex slaves for their own soldiers.
He claimed, it is an historical fact, as the evidence proves that sex slaves were real. Other countries had military brothels. Japan remains the only country accused of extensive organised sexual slavery.
We cannot imagine the horror and trauma these young men endured. War inflicts its own level of insanity and uncertainty. Warfare affects the soul, one’s compassion, and the humanity of these young men. All soldiers threatened with combat are wounded. We choose to forget or ignore the circumstances of the American GIs during WW2, and the reason for their bad behavior. But What Soldiers Do opens up a dimension surrounding the American GI experience that was likely unknown to most.
Written by Laura Oneale