German camp brothels in World War II

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German concentration camp brothels

Bundesarchiv Bild 192-174, KZ Mauthausen, Lagerbordell Lager Gusen.jpg

Camp brothel in Gusen, Austria

In World War II, Nazi Germany established brothels in the concentration camps (Lagerbordell) 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. [1] The women forced into these brothels came mainly from the Ravensbrück concentration camp, [2] except for Auschwitz, which employed its own prisoners. [3] 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. [3]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Kapo (concentration camp) prisoner functionary in Nazi concentration camp

A kapo or prisoner functionary was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor or carry out administrative tasks.

Contents

History and operation

The first camp brothel was established in Mauthausen/Gusen in 1942. After 30 June 1943, a camp brothel existed in Auschwitz, 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. [4] There are conflicting dates for the camp brothel in Flossenbürg: one source claims summer 1943; [5] another states it was not opened until 25 March 1944. [4]

Buchenwald concentration camp nazi concentration camp

Buchenwald was a Nazi concentration camp established on Ettersberg hill near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937. It was one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps within Germany's 1937 borders. Many actual or suspected communists were among the first internees.

Neuengamme concentration camp

The Neuengamme concentration camp was a network of Nazi German concentration camps in Northern Germany that consisted of the main camp, Neuengamme, and its over 85 satellite camps. Established in 1938 near the village of Neuengamme in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg, the Neuengamme camp became the largest concentration camp in Northwest Germany. Over 100,000 prisoners came through Neuengamme and its subcamps, 24 of which were for women. The verified death toll is 42,900: 14,000 in the main camp, 12,800 in the subcamps, and 16,100 in the death marches and bombings during the final weeks of World War II. Following Germany’s defeat in 1945, the British Army used the site as an internment camp for SS and other Nazi officials. In 1948, the British transferred the land to the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg, which summarily demolished the camp’s wooden barracks and built in its stead a prison cell block, converting the former concentration camp site into two state prisons operated by the Hamburg authorities from 1950 to 2004. Following protests by various groups of survivors and allies, the site now serves as a memorial. It is situated 15 km southeast of the centre of Hamburg.

Dachau concentration camp Nazi concentration camp in Germany before and during World War II

Dachau concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in 1933, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Opened by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. The camps were liberated by U.S. forces on 29 April 1945.

Heinrich Himmler inspecting the camp brothel in Mauthausen/Gusen Bundesarchiv Bild 192-220, KZ Mauthausen, Himmlervisite im Lager Gusen.jpg
Heinrich Himmler inspecting the camp brothel in Mauthausen/Gusen

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 ). [1] The women were replaced frequently due to exhaustion and illness, and were usually sent away to their deaths later. [1] 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). [1] There is evidence (somewhat controversial) [6] that in some of the brothels, women might have had tattoos inscribed on their chests saying "Feld-Hure" (Field Whore). [7] Some of them underwent forced sterilizations as well as forced abortions, often resulting in death. [3]

Reichsmark Former currency of Germany

The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until 20 June 1948 in West Germany, where it was replaced with the Deutsche Mark, and until 23 June in East Germany when it was replaced by the East German mark. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig. The Mark is an ancient Germanic weight measure, traditionally a half pound, later used for several coins; whereas Reich, that is realm in English, comes from the official name for the German nation state from 1871 to 1945, Deutsches Reich.

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 [5] was published. However, the subject remained largely taboo in studies of Nazism until the mid-1990s, when new publications by female researchers broke the silence. [8] [9]

Josef Kohout was an Austrian Nazi concentration camp survivor, imprisoned for his homosexuality. He is known best for the 1972 book Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel, which was written by his acquaintance Hans Neumann using the pen name Heinz Heger, which is often falsely attributed to Kohout. The book is one of very few first-hand accounts of the treatment of homosexuals in Nazi imprisonment. It has been translated into several languages, and a second edition published in 1994. It was the first testimony from a homosexual survivor of the concentration camps to be translated into English, and is regarded as the best known. Its publication helped to illuminate not just the suffering gay prisoners of the Nazi regime experienced, but the lack of recognition and compensation they received after the war's end.

National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party – officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party – in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.

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." [10]

Homosexual prisoners and camp brothels

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", [5] 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 homosexuality. [5]

Heinrich Himmler High Nazi Germany official, head of the SS

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and among those most directly responsible for the Holocaust.

Pink triangle Nazi concentration camp badge, later international symbol of gay pride and the gay rights movement

A pink triangle has been a symbol for various LGBTQ identities, initially intended as a badge of shame, but later reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity. In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, it began as one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, distinguishing those imprisoned because they had been identified by authorities as homosexual men, a category that also included bisexual men and transgender women. In the 1970s, it was revived as a symbol of protest against homophobia, and has since been adopted by the larger LGBTQ community as a popular symbol of LGBTQ pride and the LGBTQ rights movement.

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. There is virtually no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical bodies warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful. Nevertheless, advocates and proponents do provide anecdotal reports of people who claim some degree of success in becoming heterosexual. Medical, scientific, and government organizations in the United States and United Kingdom have expressed concern over the validity, efficacy and ethics of conversion therapy. Various jurisdictions in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas have passed laws against conversion therapy.

Cultural references

The French documentary Night and Fog mentioned the existence of concentration camp brothels as early as 1955. This film, by director Alain Resnais, included extensive original footage of the camps and was based on interviews with survivors. German concentration camp brothels were also re-enacted in fictional Nazi exploitation films made in the 1970s such as Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS , Last Orgy of the Third Reich , Love Camp 7 , SS Experiment Camp and Nazi Love Camp 27 . [11] Examples of Israeli fictional literature on the subject include writer's Yehiel De-Nur alias K. Tzetnik's book The House of Dolls and Stalag fiction genre. [12] [13] Czech author Arnošt Lustig wrote a novel Lovely Green Eyes (ISBN   1559706961), which tells a story of a 15-year-old Jewish girl deported to a camp and forced to serve in a brothel during World War II. In Australian television drama A Place to Call Home , current events bring painful memories of war for the Australian-born Jewish convert Sarah Adams. The audience learns that not only was she an internee at the Ravensbrück concentration camp, but she was forced into a camp brothel; willing herself to survive the ordeal solely because of her love for her French husband, Rene. After liberation, on being told erroneously that he had died, she had a mental breakdown. The dramatic revelation that he was not dead followed. [14]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Camp Brothel". Wollheim Memorial. Accessed June 30, 2011.
  2. New Exhibition Documents Forced Prostitution in Concentration Camps - Der Spiegel - 15 January 2007
  3. 1 2 3 Nanda Herbermann; Hester Baer; Elizabeth Roberts Baer (2000). The Blessed Abyss: Inmate #6582 in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for Women (Google Books). Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 33–34. ISBN   0-8143-2920-9.
  4. 1 2 Christl Wickert: Tabu Lagerbordell, in: Eschebach/Jacobeit/Wenk: Gedächtnis und Geschlecht, 2002, S. 44
  5. 1 2 3 4 Heinz Heger, Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel, 5th ed., 2001, p. 137
  6. Tom Segev, "Who was the camp whore?" Haaretz.com, January 13, 2011. Quote: Na'ama Shik of Yad Vashem's Institute for Holocaust Education, asserts on the basis of doctoral research that the Nazis did not employ Jewish prostitutes in the camp, and that at the time they used the series of numbers seen in the picture at Auschwitz, numbers were no longer etched on prisoners' chests, but only on their arms.
  7. Melissa Kuntz (2007), The Forgotten Photographs: The Work of Paul Goldman from 1943-1961, Pittsburgh: American Jewish Museum, See: photograph of an inmate with chest tattoo published by Jerusalem Post, retrieved January 10, 2011
  8. Christa Schulz, "Weibliche Häftlinge aus Ravensbrück in Bordellen der Männerkonzentrationslager" (Female prisoners from Ravensbrück in brothels for male concentration camp prisoners)
  9. Christa Paul, Zwangsprostitution. Staatlich errichtete Bordelle im Nationalsozialismus (Forced prostitution: Brothels established by the National Socialist State).
  10. In: Thomas Gaevert / Martin Hilbert: "Frauen als Beute" ("Women as Booty"), 2004 documentary film made for ARD. Quote in German: "Wenn wir wußten, daß in unserem Block eine ausgesucht wurde, haben wir sie geschnappt und ihr eine Decke übergeworfen und sie so verprügelt, daß sie sich nicht mehr rühren konnte. Es war unklar, ob sie sich davon überhaupt wieder erholen könnte. Die wollten doch nur ein schöneres Leben haben und wir haben sie so bestraft."
  11. Stiglegger, Marcus (2007-02-09). "Beyond Good and Evil? Sadomasochism politics cinema 1970s". IKONEN. Ikonenmagazin.de. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  12. "Schultzes Hündin" (in German). Taz.de.
  13. "Folternde, vollbusige SS-Frauen «". Diepresse.com. 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  14. Dorothy Rabinowitz (December 12, 2014), Review of ‘A Place to Call Home’: High Drama From Down Under. The Wall Street Journal.

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