First, here is a link to a page on the website of the Swiss TV channel
that aired the documentary on March 19 as part of their "LIVING HISTORY" series. The descriptive is in French but faily easy to follow.
Here is a link to a page taken from the catalog of the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Librariesfrom which I excerpted an English-language description of the documentary below:
Cited Work: The hidden face of the liberators (La fache cachée des Libérateurs)
Production Company: Program33
Producer: Fabrice Coat
Directors:Patrick Cabouat, Alain Moreau
Archive Researcher: Christine Loiseau
Sources of Footage: NARA, ITN Archive, ERE Production, Atelier des Archives, Gaumont Pathé archives , Cinématheque de Bretagne, ECPA-D, APTN Library
Duration: 54 minutes
First Shown: December 2005 on France3
Country of Origin: France
Synopsis: Everyone remembers the joyful images of the liberation of Europe, particularly that of France by the American army in 1944 and 1945. This perfect picture is deeply rooted in the collective memory through 60 years of constant broadcast of archive footage and fiction movies. One American researcher just brought the myth down by publishing a book revealing "the hidden side of the liberators". Between 1942 and 1945, some 17,000 women and children are thought to have been raped by American soldiers in the United Kingdom, in France and in Germany.
Reasons for Submission: The part "the most glorious generation" played in the victory against the Nazi unfortunately has a hidden side. Between 1942 and 1945, around 17 000 women and children are thought to have been raped by American soldiers in Great Britain, France and Germany. This documentary is an investigation based on the still taboo university work of American crime specialist Robert Lilly who first brought these facts into light.
For background, here is an article in The Guardian about Prof. Lilly's book, Taken by Force, from which I excerpt: Taken by Force is a study of the rapes committed by American soldiers in Europe between 1942 and 1945. He submitted his manuscript in 2001. But after September 11, its US publisher suppressed it, and it first appeared in 2003 in a French translation.
Someone from the University of Birmingham then wrote in The Guardian: Richard Drayton (Comment, May 10) rightly asks why Robert Lilly's work on the US military's response to allegations of rape by its soldiers in second-world-war Europe has yet to find an English or US publisher. Taken by Force has been published to acclaim in France, with the imprimatur of one of its leading historians. An Italian edition has recently been published. Lilly had unique access to a court martial archive in Washington and traced some of the people involved. He focuses not just upon the women who suffered at the hands of male American soldiers, but also raises awkward questions about the way black defendants were sometimes treated by the courts martial. His scholarship deserves to be more widely known and only an English-language publisher can ensure this.
A comment from Prof. Lilly himself follows: My book is now the backbone of a French TV documentary which interviews survivors. It will be completed in the early autumn and broadcast near the end of this year. No English-language publisher has dared touch it. (s) Prof. Robert Lilly, Northern Kentucky University.
With respect to capital punishment in the military, here is an online article by Prof. Lilly: DIRTY DETAILS: EXECUTING U.S. SOLDIERS DURING WW II.
This, of course, is not a uniquely American problem. The rapes committed by the Russian Red Army were well documented by Anthony Beevor. Thousands of Italian women were raped by the French Army during their earlier conquest and their appalling behavior in Algeria and Indochina are also well-documented. If anything, it is to the credit of the US Military to have dealt with this decisively.
If there is a lesson here, it is that even in the noblest of wars, war turns men into monsters and one can only imagine what Iraq is doing to our soldiers.
Also, too much patriotism leads to denial and the ra-ra jingoism that prevails blinds us to the "there but for the grace of God go I" moment that would certainly follow the broadcasting of this documentary -- or the publication of Prof. Lilly's book -- in the U.S.
By censoring our own history, we are condemning ourselves to repeat it. We learn nothing. We live in a moral vacuum.
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