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The Stuttgart Incident: Sexual Violence and the Uses of History

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Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Abstract

This article re-centres the American home-front and the domestic politics of racial segregation in the history of Allied sexual violence in World War II by examining the transnational uses of white women’s victimhood. It focuses on a story about the rape of German women by French colonial troops under American command in the city of Stuttgart in April 1945. The article shows how allegations of rape by men of colour precipitated the transformation of an enemy nation into a violated and victimised one, while facilitating the efforts of some American lawmakers to collapse different ethnic and national categories into hegemonic visions of blackness and whiteness. In so doing, Democratic senators from mostly southern states utilised German women’s stories of rape as a spectacle to illustrate and advance their domestic ends: to sever post-war Germany from its Nazi past, thereby welcoming the country back into a union of white nations; to further their agenda of racial segregation; and to deflect attention from the violence committed by white GIs in Europe. This story, which became known as “The Stuttgart Incident”, ultimately shows how ideas about race and gendered violence overseas were used to bolster the politics of white supremacy at home, how these allegations were mobilised for material political purposes, and how they transcended national boundaries.

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Keywords

4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

Journal Title

Diplomatic History

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Journal ISSN

0145-2096
1467-7709

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Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

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All rights reserved
Sponsorship
AHRC (1653211)
AHRC (1653211)
Vice Chancellor’s Award, Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust Robert Gardiner Memorial Fund Arts and Humanities Research Council UK American Historical Association Albert J. Beveridge Research Grant Societies for Historians of American Foreign Relations Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant British Association for American Studies Peter Parish Award Eccles Centre (British Library) Joseph C. Fox family/ Sidney Sussex College Boston University Trinity College, Cambridge, Rouse Ball/Eddington Fund