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Taboo: French women speak out on rapes by US soldiers during WWII

Published : Saturday, 11 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 573

PLABENNEC: Aimee Dupre had always kept silent about the rape of her mother by two American soldiers after the Normandy landings in June 1944.

But 80 years after the brutal assault, she finally felt it was time to speak out.

Nearly a million US, British, Canadian and French soldiers landed on the Normandy coast in the weeks after D-Day in an operation that was to herald the end of Nazi Germanys grip on Europe. Aimee was 19, living in Montours, a village in Brittany, and delighted to see the "liberators" arrive, as was everybody around her.

But then her joy evaporated. On the evening of August 10, two US soldiers -- often called GIs -- arrived at the familys farm. "They were drunk and they wanted a woman," Aimee, now 99, told AFP, producing a letter that her mother, also called Aimee, wrote "so nothing is forgotten".

In her neat handwriting, Aimee Helaudais Honore described the events of that night. How the soldiers fired their guns in the direction of her husband, ripping holes in his cap, and how they menacingly approached her daughter Aimee.
To protect her daughter, she agreed to leave the house with the GIs, she wrote. "They took me to a field and took turns raping me, four times each."

Aimees voice broke as she read from the letter. "Oh mother, how you suffered, and me too, I think about this every day," she said. "My mother sacrificed herself to protect me," she said. "While they raped her in the night, we waited, not knowing whether she would come back alive or whether they would shoot her dead."

The events of that night were not isolated. In October 1944, after the battle for Normandy was won, US military authorities put 152 soldiers on trial for raping French women.    —AFP

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