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This is Casablanca, in Morocco, as the US War department mapped it in 1942.
They noted everything from the cement works to the hippodrome.
This was Casablanca's Casablanca.
“Across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train or auto to Casablanca in French Morocco.”
But there was an area missing from the movie screen, just beneath the Southern border of
this map.
This is Bousbir, a walled off sex district in Morocco.
It was famous.
People sent postcards.
It had an official medical dispensary and a police station.
Practically speaking, prostitutes were prisoners within these walls.
On December 10, 1942, American troops opened Bousbir's gates.
As customers.
What happened in the next three days in Bousbir is an encapsulation of the surprising ways
the American military, and many militaries around the world, fought venereal disease
in World War II.
“You've got gonorrhea, Baker.”
“Gonorrhea, why I don't know how…”
“I do.
You had a dirty woman.”
Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis, also known as venereal diseases,
or VD, were a significant problem in America at the time.
World War II raised the rates and the stakes.
Rates varied widely by geographic region, rank, and service branch.
But for example, this chart shows a distribution in the US Air Force in Continental Europe.
In October 1944, 120 out of 1000 servicemen had VD.
That meant lost days on the battlefield.
In August 1944, when the US Seventh Army was liberating France in “Operation Dragoon,”
about 1 in 10 of the men had VD.
“The Army recognizes the risks present with a large number of men and the satisfaction
of their sexual impulse.”
How did the United States fight STDs in the military, while dealing with the stakes and
scale of a World War?
How did their tactics complement — and clash with — today's values?
And where do the bunny rabbits come in?
“The greatest risk...is that...of venereal...diseases.”
“If you're smart, you'll keep away from prostitutes and pickups.
Most of them have syphilis or gonorrhea.
They're not safe — and they can't be made safe.”
Long before this advice during World War II, VD was a problem in the military.
This War Department chart estimated VD rates in the US Army - that peak is actually during
the Civil War.
But the Great War — World War I — started a new era of global war and mass compulsory
A military draft greatly expanded the pool of soldiers, making education and propaganda
techniques necessary.
This poster was typical.
Pamphlets complemented the message.
The United States Public Health Service wanted men, the primary audience, to avoid “prostitutes
or chippies.”
But if they did have sex, it provided instructions for combating disease.
Women were given similar instructions — abstain if possible, but if they did “have intercourse
with any man except your husband, make him wear a rubber.”
Starting in 1914, the American Social Hygiene association formed to boost VD awareness,
producing pamphlets and even creating exhibits like this.
The army also made it clear that managing VD was part of the war effort.
The most famous example was General John Pershing's General Order No. 77, which ordered commanders
to attend to venereal infections by running small clinics, or prophylaxis stations, dedicated
to VD, making “no half-hearted efforts.”
Congress joined the VD fray as well with serious laws focused on areas near training camps.
The government shut down red light districts, often clustered near training camps, and
quarantined tens of thousands of women.
“Birds-eye view of a typical rapid treatment center in a Southern state, located in a former
CCC camp, as are many of these hospitals.
Here, infected women are treated with new intensive therapies for syphilis and gonorrhea.”
This created clinics that would last through the 1930s, like this mobile one.
Just before World War II, America was having a national conversation about the VD problem
outside of the military as well, with the Surgeon General writing a book about it.
The book encouraged regular tests for syphilis.
So once World War II began, all of these strategies would be in play again, and they'd need
to be used in a global war.
“It is extremely important that you do not go on a drinking party and allow yourself
to become so drunk that you get careless.
Drunkenness is responsible for much venereal disease.”
Movies like Sex Hygiene were compulsory viewing.
But focusing on propaganda overlooks that there were multiple strategies which the military
The war on VD focused on prevention, treatment, and control, and these efforts interacted
in occasionally contradictory ways.
As early as 1926, the government began cutting soldiers' pay if they missed work due to VD.
That was paired with Sex Hygiene, the film and pamphlet, which included info on “wet
dreams,” “masturbation (self-abuse),” and “sex relations.”
That was matched with advice that sex “should be kept for marriage” with eventual entreaties
to use prophylaxis.
Often, this was a condom:
“Test it carefully.
Inflate it with air as you would a toy balloon until the rubber is fully extended.”
The army also distributed medicine to soldiers.
“Another good way not to get VD is to use the army's new pro kit.
It consists of a tube of ointment,
a silk cloth,
a piece of tissue,
and some instructions.”
This was the paradox in military propaganda - prostitutes were clearly labeled as disease
carriers, but recommendations to get a prophylactic, or “pro kit“ held equal emphasis.
The government also acted aggressively to curb prostitution.
The May Act gave the Federal government the right to bust brothels if local areas couldn't.
It was used near American military bases, like at Fort Bragg.
The Surgeon General also established Venereal Control Officers that year, with duties largely
falling to medical officers.
Policing extended to soldiers, too.
Influenced by charts like these, which appeared in surgeon general Thomas Parran's book,
syphilis tracking operations formed in more stable locations.
This 1945 Army medical history includes a typical questionnaire administered to soldiers
in the Carolinas who had contracted VD.
The goal of questions about the time of sex contact and location of the “pickup” was
to track houses of prostitution.
This post-war Navy interviewer's aid, showing techniques used during the war, provided similar
guidance: a private interview room; education about the VD chain; and forms with checkboxes
for place of encounter — bus; dance hall; park —and procurement — bellhop; waiter;
This resulted in VD detective cases — if a prostitute were tracked to a pick-up spot
like the “Green Lantern Cafe” after an interview, the case was sent to a public health
worker who sent out a field worker to pull in the prostitute or disease carrier for a
medical inspection.
This procedure was easier in American controlled areas or during relative peacetime.
It happened in England during World War II, with the installation of prophylaxis stations
around the country.
In further flung locations, this was more difficult, and warnings had to suffice, like
this one in Iran, which cautioned soldiers to think of their mother, wife, or sweetheart
before going out.
So did all of these videos and pamphlets and posters and laws actually work?
It's complicated.
In Oran, Algeria, the United States military selected the top European brothels.
Brothels were set aside by the military- and then segregated.
-- 9 for white troops and 2 brothels for black troops, both with their own prophylaxis stations.
Military police were stationed inside the brothels between 5 and 9 pm.
As early as 1940, the War Department had to send letters to commanding officers to clarify
that they did not condone prostitution.
But in far flung war-torn countries, that line blurred.
This brothel in Manila had a sign for the nearest Prophylaxis station posted on the
Italy was typical of more destitute countries with rampant solicitation and prostitution.
In Naples, prostitution led to large VD treatment centers like this one, well-maintained prophylaxis
stations and US army supervised civilian examinations.
Towns were officially placed off limits when possible.
The military did not ignore wartime realities — and in 1944 Congress agreed to stop penalizing
soldiers' pay if they had VD, with the hope of encouraging reporting.
But for all that work, the biggest weapon might have come from these.
“Industrial monument to the miracle drug.
Mass production penicillin plant in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Each batch is tested for purity, New Zealand white rabbits serving as subject.
Upon how they react depends whether the drug can safely be used for battle casualties with
pneumonia, meningitis, gas gangrene, and other wound infections.
They seem to enjoy their job of serving mankind.”
This chart shows the effects of the drug - even as total VD rose, the introduction of penicillin
as a primary treatment reduced days lost.
Due to military experiments, penicillin treatment gained its own complicated legacy.
But in the context of the military, the drug became a weapon against venereal disease,
and it went from military use to the public at large.
Here's President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Casablanca in 1943.
This is the footage we expect from World War II.
Leaders and marching.
But just as war is filled with reversals and contradictions, so are the social projects
that surround it.
There are other forgotten victims and private injuries.
Extras that are missing from the credits.
FDR didn't risk running into troops leaving Bousbir.
By the time he visited, it was closed to Americans.
The official report reads: “Disturbances arising among the troops in the walled city
were responsible for this action.
The walled city and all other brothels in Casablanca remained off limits from 13 December
1942 throughout the occupation.”
What happened between Dec 10 when the troops went inside those walls and Dec 13th when
the brothels closed to Americans in Bousbir, in Casablanca?
There's a gap in the record.
Even today.
Thank you so much for watching that video.
If you're interested in the research that went into it, Vox actually has a new membership
program with lots of extra features.
For that program, I have recorded an additional video in which I go into some of the research
and all the crazy stories I couldn't fit into the video that you just saw.
I'm gonna share one piece of trivia with everybody though, which is that that movie
— Sex Hygiene — that you saw?
It was actually directed by the legendary director John Ford, the same person who directed
“The Searchers.”


The World War II battle against STDs

530 タグ追加 保存
宋俊輝 2019 年 1 月 3 日 に公開


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