German military brothels in World War II


German military brothels were set up by Nazi Germany during World War II throughout much of occupied Europe for the use of Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. These brothels were generally new creations, but in the West, they were sometimes set up using existing brothels as well as many other buildings. Until 1942, there were around 500 military brothels of this kind in German-occupied Europe.  Often operating in confiscated hotels and guarded by the Wehrmacht, these facilities served travelling soldiers and those withdrawn from the front.  According to records, at least 34,140 European women were forced to serve as prostitutes during the German occupation of their own countries along with female prisoners of concentration camp brothels. In many cases in Eastern Europe, the women involved were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups called łapanka or rafle


The Wehrmacht was able to establish a thoroughly bureaucratic system of around 100 new brothels already before 1942, based on an existing system of government-controlled ones.. The soldiers were given official visitation cards issued by Oberkommando des Heeres and were prohibited from engaging in sexual contact with other French women. In September 1941, Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch   suggested that weekly visits for all younger soldiers be considered mandatory to prevent “sexual excesses” among them. The prostitutes had a scheduled medical check-up to slow-down the spread of venereal diseases. 

The order to regulate the soldiers’ sex lives was issued on 29 July 1940. From that point on, free prostitution was forbidden and persecuted by the police. As before, the prostitutes were paid a nominal fee. The soldiers had to bring up the money themselves from their regular guerdon (recompense)

During World War II, Germany established brothels in Nazi concentration camps (Lagerbordell). The women forced to work in these brothels came from the Ravensbrück concentration camp,[130] Soldier’s brothels (Wehrmachtsbordell) were usually organized in already established brothels or in hotels confiscated by the Germans. The leaders of the Wehrmacht became interested in running their own brothels when sexual disease spread among the soldiers. In the controlled brothels, the women were checked frequently to avoid and treat sexually transmittable infections (STI). 

It is estimated that a minimum of 34,140 women from occupied states were forced to work as prostitutes during the Third Reich.  In occupied Europe, the local women were often forced into prostitution.   On 3 May 1941 the Foreign Ministry of the Polish government-in-exile issued a document describing the mass Nazi raids made in Polish cities with the goal of capturing young women, who later were forced to work in brothels used by German soldiers and officers. Women often tried to escape from such facilities, with at least one mass escape known to have been attempted by women in Norway. The owner of Berlin’s top brothel the ‘Pension Schmidt’ was Kitty Schmidt “Madame Katharine”  




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