German military brothels in World War II

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German military brothels
Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-1019-07, Frankreich, Brest, Soldatenbordell.jpg
German soldiers entering a Soldatenbordell in Brest, France (1940). The building is a former Synagogue
Development
Formed by Nazi Germany
Operation1940–1945
Locations German-occupied Europe

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. [1] 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. [2] Often operating in confiscated hotels and guarded by the Wehrmacht, these facilities served travelling soldiers and those withdrawn from the front. [3] [4] 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. [1] In many cases in Eastern Europe, Teenage girls and women were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups called łapanka or rafle. [3] [4] [5]

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 where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. 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.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

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 more than 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 70 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.

Wehrmacht unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945

The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.

Contents

Eastern Europe

The Foreign Ministry of the Polish Government in Exile issued a document on May 3, 1941, describing the mass kidnapping raids conducted in Polish cities with the aim of capturing young women for sexual slavery at brothels run by the German military. [5] On top of that, Polish girls as young as 15 – classified as suitable for slave labor and shipped to Germany – were sexually exploited by German men at their place of destination. [5] In Brandenburg, two Polish Ostarbeiter teens who returned home to Kraków in advanced stage of pregnancy, reported to have been raped by German soldiers with such frequency that they were unable to perform any of the worker's designated labour. [5]

Brandenburg State in Germany

Brandenburg is a state of Germany.

<i>Ostarbeiter</i>

Ostarbeiter was a Nazi German designation for foreign slave workers gathered from occupied Central and Eastern Europe to perform forced labor in Germany during World War II. The Germans started deporting civilians at the beginning of the war and began doing so at unprecedented levels following Operation Barbarossa in 1941. They apprehended Ostarbeiter from the newly-formed German districts of Reichskommissariat Ukraine, Distrikt Galizien, and Reichskommissariat Ostland. These areas comprised German-occupied Poland and the conquered territories of the Soviet Union. According to Pavel Polian, over 50% of Ostarbeiters were formerly Soviet subjects originating from the territory of modern-day Ukraine, followed by Polish women workers. Eastern workers included ethnic Ukrainians, Poles, Belarusians, Russians, Tatars, and others. Estimates of the number of Ostarbeiter range between 3 million and 5.5 million.

Kraków City in Lesser Poland, Poland

Kraków, also spelled Krakow in English, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków was the official capital of Poland until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lapanka, 1941 kidnapping raid in Warsaw's Zoliborz district. Selected young women were later forced into military brothels Lapanka zoliborz warszawa Polska 1941.jpg
Łapanka, 1941 kidnapping raid in Warsaw's Żoliborz district. Selected young women were later forced into military brothels

The Swiss Red Cross mission driver Franz Mawick wrote in 1942 from Warsaw about what he saw: "Uniformed Germans ... gaze fixedly at women and girls between the ages of 15 and 25. One of the soldiers pulls out a pocket flashlight and shines it on one of the women, straight into her eyes. The two women turn their pale faces to us, expressing weariness and resignation. The first one is about 30 years old. 'What is this old whore looking for around here?' – one of the three soldiers laughs. 'Bread, sir' – asks the woman. ... 'A kick in the ass you get, not bread' – answers the soldier. Owner of the flashlight directs the light again on the faces and bodies of girls. ... The youngest is maybe 15 years old ... They open her coat and start groping her with their lustfull paws. 'This one is ideal for bed' – he says." [5]

Warsaw Capital of Poland

Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland and its population is officially estimated at 1.78 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.1 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 8th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 517.24 square kilometres (199.71 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi). Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination, and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. Its historical old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the Soviet Union, women were kidnapped by German forces for prostitution as well; one report by International Military Tribunal writes: "in the city of Smolensk the German Command opened a brothel for officers in one of the hotels into which hundreds of women and girls were driven; they were mercilessly dragged down the street by their arms and hair." [6]

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. Its territory included much of Eastern Europe, as well as part of Northern Europe and all of Northern and Central Asia. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Escape attempts

According to an exposé by the Polish Wprost magazine, [5] the women forced into sexual slavery by the Nazi German authorities sometimes tried to escape. In one such instance, a group of Polish and Soviet women imprisoned at a German military brothel located in Norway escaped in 1941. They found refuge in the local Lutheran Church which offered them asylum. [5] The women were raped by up to 32 men per day; the visiting soldiers were allocated 15 minutes each at a nominal cost of 3 Reichsmarks per "session" between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. [5] The women who were visibly pregnant were sometimes released, but would not go back to their families, so as not to shame them. [5]

<i>Wprost</i> periodical literature

Wprost is a Polish-language weekly newsmagazine published in Poznań, Poland. Each month the weekly provides an English-language supplement, WiK English Edition, which focuses on concerts, exhibitions, and interesting weekend getaways, and in-depth guide to Warsaw's dining and nightlife. Wprost had a circulation of 218,000 copies in 2001–02. The circulation of the magazine was 102,987 in 2010 and 115,645 copies in 2011. It was 94,517 copies in 2012. The print and e-edition circulation of the weekly was 130,136 in August 2014.

Sexual slavery Slavery with the intention of using the slaves for sex

Sexual slavery and sexual exploitation is attaching the right of ownership over one or more persons with the intent of coercing or otherwise forcing them to engage in sexual activities. This includes forced labor, reducing a person to a servile status and sex trafficking persons, such as the sexual trafficking of children.

Norway Country in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Occupied France

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 – wrote Inse Meinen. [7] 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 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. [8]

<i>Oberkommando des Heeres</i> Supreme High Command of the German Army during World War II

The Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) was the High Command of the German Army during the Era of Nazi Germany. It was founded in 1935 as a part of Adolf Hitler's re-militarisation of Germany. From 1938 OKH was, together with OKL and OKM, formally subordinated to the OKW, with the exception of the Waffen-SS. During the war, OKH had the responsibility of strategic planning of Armies and Army Groups, while the General Staff of the OKH managed operational matters. Each German Army also had an Armeeoberkommando, Army Command, or AOK. Until the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941, OKH and its staff was de facto the most important unit within the German war planning. OKW then took over this function for theatres other than the German-Soviet front. OKH commander held the title Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres. Following the Battle of Moscow, after OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch was excused, Hitler appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Walther von Brauchitsch German field marshal

Walther Heinrich Alfred Hermann von Brauchitsch was a German field marshal and the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army during World War II. Born into an aristocratic military family, Brauchitsch entered army service in 1901. During World War I, he served with distinction on the corps- and division-level staff on the Western Front.

The order to regulate the soldiers' sex lives was issued on 29 July 1940.[ citation needed ] 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).[ citation needed ]

Forced prostitution

A 1977 German report by a neoconservative historian from Baden-Württemberg, [9] Franz W. Seidler, contended that the foreign women who were made to register for the German military brothels had been prostitutes already before the war. [10] [11] Ruth Seifert, professor of sociology at the University of Applied Sciences in Regensburg; on the other hand, maintained that women were forced to work in these brothels by their German captors, as shown during the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1946, further confirmed by the 1961 book published by Raul Hilberg. [12]

While there were some prostitutes who volunteered to work in the brothels, many were political or other "asocial" prisoners or female prisoners of war. [13] [14]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 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   978-0-8143-2920-7 . Retrieved January 12, 2011.(in English)
  2. Helge Sander, Barbara Johr (Hrsg.), Befreier und Befreite - Krieg - Vergewaltigung - Kinder, Frankfurt a.M. 2005
  3. 1 2 (in English)various authors; Leon Yudkin (1993). "Narrative Perspectives on Holocaust Literature". In Leon Yudkin. (ed.). Hebrew Literature in the Wake of the Holocaust . Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. pp. 13–32. ISBN   978-0-8386-3499-8.
  4. 1 2 (in English)Lenten, Ronit (2000). Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence. Berghahn Books. pp. 33–34. ISBN   978-1-57181-775-4.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Cezary Gmyz, Wprost magazine (Number 17/18/2007), "Seksualne Niewolnice III Rzeszy". 2007-04-22. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved 2016-02-14. (Sex slaves of the Third Reich), pp. 1–3 via Internet Archive (in Polish). Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  6. War crimes against women: prosecution in international war crimes tribunals by Kelly Dawn Askin, page 72. ISBN   9041104860.
  7. Inse Meinen, Wehrmacht und Prostitution in besetzten Frankreich. (in German)
  8. Joanna Ostrowska, Marcin Zaremba, "Do burdelu, marsz!" (Marching on to the brothel). Polityka magazine, No 22 (2707), May 30, 2009; pp. 70-72. (in Polish)
  9. Richard A. Etlin (2002-10-15). Art, Culture, and Media Under the Third Reich. p. 254. ISBN   978-0226220871.
  10. Christl Wickert: Tabu Lagerbordell (Camp Bordello Taboo), in: Eschebach/Jacobeit/Wenk: Gedächtnis und Geschlecht (Memory and Gender), 2002, p. 54
  11. Franz W. Seidler, "Prostitution, Homosexualität, Selbstverstümmelung - Probleme der deutschen Sanitätsführung 1939-1945 (Prostitution, Homosexuality, Masturbation - Problems of the German Medical Service, 1939-1945); 1977, p. 154
  12. Ruth Seifert. "War and Rape. Analytical Approaches1". Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved January 13, 2011 via Internet Archive. International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1946; Trial of the Major War Criminals, testimony of Jan. 31, 1946, Vol. 6:404ff; Vol. 7:456f; see also Hilberg 1961:126ff; Brownmiller 1978:55ff.
  13. Milano, Vincent. "Wehrmacht Brothels / der Erste Zug". www.dererstezug.com. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  14. Röger, Maren (2014). "The Sexual Policies and Sexual Realities of the German Occupiers in Poland in the Second World War". Contemporary European History. 23 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1017/S0960777313000490. ISSN   0960-7773.

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