CBS spotlights work of Rick Atkinson and Mary Louis Roberts work exposing WW II soldiers who raped

Historians in the News

Once the Allied forces were ashore, some GIs were left wondering whether they had liberated or obliterated French villages. The late Andy Rooney, who covered the invasion as a reporter, wrote of the French: "It was true they were being freed, but at the cost of everything they had."

And beyond that, not all American soldiers conducted themselves like members of the "Greatest Generation."

"War does bad things to people in general," said Atkinson. "It makes good soldiers do bad things, and it makes bad soldiers do terrible things."

"There is a great deal of war trauma, and as a result there was a great deal of alcoholism and just misbehavior," said Mary Louise Roberts. The author of "What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France," she was the first American to gain access to French archives which had been sealed since the war.

Roberts photographed documents in which French officials complained of a "regime of terror" perpetrated by "bandits in uniform." Also, said Roberts, "There [were] many rape accusations on the part of the Norman women....

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