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D-Day and the Greatest Generation (Of “Whoremongers”)

In a review of Mary Louise Roberts’s 2013 book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France, Laurence Vance writes about the “Greatest Generation” of U.S. soldiers who invaded Normandy, France on “D-Day” and who “liberated” the French from Nazi occupation. Apparently, those U.S. soldiers were mainly motivated by their sexual desires. “Romance, prostitution, and rape.”

Here is an excerpt of the review:

What Soldiers Do begins with an introduction and ends with a conclusion. In each case, the port city of Le Havre in Normandy is mentioned. In the introduction we read that in 1945, a year after D-Day, thousands of American GIs in Le Havre were waiting for a boat home. The mayor of the city penned a letter to the American regional commander complaining that “the good citizens of his city were unable to take a walk in the park or visit the grave of a loved one without coming across a GI engaged in sex with a prostitute.” At night, “drunken soldiers roamed the street looking for sex, and as a result ‘respectable’ women could not walk alone.” “Scenes contrary to decency” were taking place “day and night.” In the conclusion we read that “GIs were emboldened to believe the nation was theirs for the taking.” In garrison towns like Le Havre, the GI’s “disregard for French social norms meant they had public sex with prostitutes and assaulted women on the streets.”

According to the author, What Soldiers Do “explores how sex was used to negotiate authority” between the United States and France. It focuses on the “three kinds of sex between GIs and French women during the US military presence: romance, prostitution, and rape.” These subjects make up the three sections of the book. The book concludes with almost 80 pages of notes, including many French sources, followed by a very detailed index.

Roberts explains that “with very few exceptions the GIs had no emotional attachment to the French people or the cause of their freedom.” The Normandy campaign was billed as “an erotic adventure.” Sexual fantasies about France motivated “the GI to get off the boat and fight.” However, “such fantasies also unleashed a veritable tsunami of male lust.” Once aroused, “the GI libido proved difficult to contain.” Roberts maintains that “sex was fundamental to how the US military framed, fought, and won the war in Europe.” She contends that “this book presents GI sexual conduct as neither innocent of power nor unimportant in effect.” Military historians, including Stephen Ambrose, “have largely ignored the sexual habits of American soldiers.”

Of course, the way I see it, there wouldn’t have been a World War II and a rise of a Hitler had Woodrow Wilson not decided to needlessly take the U.S. into World War I which extended that war and caused all sorts of further problems.

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