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German camp brothels in World War II.

08-03-2019

In Nazi Germany established brothels in the concentration camps to create an incentive for prisoners to collaborate, although these institutions were used mostly by Kapos, “prisoner functionaries” and the criminal element, because regular inmates, penniless and emaciated, were usually too debilitated and wary of exposure to Schutzstaffel (SS) schemes. In the end, the camp brothels did not produce any noticeable increase in the prisoners’ work productivity levels, but instead, created a market for coupons among the camp VIPs. The women forced into these brothels came mainly from the Ravensbrück concentration camp except for Auschwitz, which employed its own prisoners. In combination with the German military brothels in World War II, it is estimated that at least 34,140 female inmates were forced into sexual slavery during the Third Reich

The first camp brothel was established in Mauthausen- Gusen, here with visitor Heinrich Himmler   in 1942. After 30 June 1943, a camp brothel existed in Auschwitz direct behind the entrance  in Block 24 A 

 

The decision was taken by the Nazi leadership, as a form to provide incentive to value prisoners. The brothel remained active until January 1945.

, and from 15 July 1943, in Buchenwald. The one in Neuengamme was established in early 1944, Dachau’s in May 1944, Dora Mittelbau‘s in late summer, and Sachsenhausen ‘s on 8 August 1944. There are conflicting dates for the camp brothel in Flossenburg: one source claims summer 1943; another states it was not opened until 25 March 1944.

The camp brothels were usually built as barracks surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, with small individual rooms for up to 20 female prisoners, controlled by a female overseer, Aufseherin.  The women were replaced frequently due to exhaustion and illness, and were usually sent away to their deaths later. The brothels were open only in the evenings. No Jewish male prisoners were allowed as patrons. Those with access to the customer lineup (Aryan VIPs only), had to sign up for a specific day and pay two reichsmarks for a 20-minute “service” based on a predetermined schedule. The women were matched with clients by an SS-man. The market for the “prize-coupons” was routinely cornered by the common criminals who wore the green triangles (hence the “green men” denomination).  There is evidence (somewhat controversial) that in some of the brothels, women might have had tattoos inscribed on their chests saying “Feld-Hure” (Field Whore). Some of them underwent forced sterilizations as well as forced abortions, often resulting in death.

The subject of forced prostitution in the camps was alluded to in survivors’ memoirs at least as early as 1972, when the first edition of Heinz Heger’s book, The Men With the Pink Triangl    was published. Heinz Heger was the nickname for Josef Kohout (24 January 1915 – 15 March 1994) an Austrian Nazi concentration camp survivor, imprisoned for his homosexuality. However, the subject remained largely taboo in studies of Nazism until the mid-1990s, when new publications by female researchers broke the silence. The Nazi’s killed at least 15,000 homosexuals in concentration camps. Homosexuals were forced to wear the upside down pink triangle and were considered the lowest of the low in the hierarchy of the camps. 

Sometimes the SS enticed women into serving in the brothels by promising them more humane treatment or reductions of their indefinite sentence. This caused anger or envy among some female inmates. Nina Michailovna , Russian camp prisoner, reported: “When we found out that a girl in our block was chosen, we caught her and threw a blanket on her and beat her up so badly that she could hardly move. It wasn’t clear if she would recover. They just wanted to have a better life and we punished them this way.”

In addition to using camp brothels as a means to control inmates, encourage collaboration, and prevent riots and escapes, Heinrich Himmler also intended them to be used as a means of teaching pink triangle prisoners “the joys of the opposite sex”, i.e., as “therapy” for their homosexuality. Heger claims that Himmler directed that all gay prisoners were to make compulsory visits to the camp brothel once per week as a means of “curing” them of their sexual orientation.

The SS had recruited 10 women for Mauthausen, following the government security agency’s guidelines for erecting brothels in forced labor camps. This meant between 300 and 500 men per prostitute.

Altogether some 200 women shared the fate of the Mauthausen prisoners in the camp brothels. In particular healthy and good-looking women prisoners between the ages of 17 and 35 caught the eye of SS recruiters. More than 60 percent of them were of German nationality, but Polish women, those from the Soviet Union and one Dutch woman were transferred into the “special task forces.” The Nazis didn’t allow Jewish women for “racial hygiene” reasons. First the women were sent to the camp hospital, where they were given calcium injections, disinfection baths, better food and a stint under a sunlamp.

 

More than 50,000 women died at Ravensbruck – many executed but many more dying because of disease and the starvation. The degradation the women at Ravensbruck suffered was often beyond inhumane. Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, had sanctioned brothels for the German army. Ravensbruck offered a ready supply of young women who were either starving enough – or could be forced – to offer their bodies for little more than a piece of bread. Brothels were even set up in other concentration camps, all supplied with women from Ravensbruck who were forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day.

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