Tue. Feb 25th, 2020

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

The Brothels of Auschwitz

4 min read

brothels-of-auschwitz

Go ahead, read it again. You didn’t read it wrong. Until recently, I too was unaware of the brothels inside of Auschwitz. I just finished BBC Worldwide’s Auschwitz – Inside the Nazi State. This two-disc, five-hour, documentary was definitely eye-opening. (See below to redeem a special offer to watch it for free on Netflix!) I have done enough reading and research in years past to be familiar with Hitler, the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust to know several tidbits regarding Auschwitz. However, watching this six-part documentary taught me a few new things. Probably the most shocking of this newly gained knowledge was learning that women were forced to work in brothels. I knew that camps, such as Auschwitz, were work camps, so there was not much use for women and the majority of them were immediately led to the gas chambers. So I was shocked, not only by the cruelty of the Nazi SS officers, forcing these women to work in brothels, but that there were enough women to fully employ a brothel. Before I go any further, this is definitely a documentary worth checking out. If you click on the picture below it will take you to Amazon where you can buy it. (If you have Netflix, you can watch it for free on Instant Streaming!)

Not only was there a brothel in Auschwitz, which took place in Block 24, but nine more in other concentration camps spread across German occupied Europe. In 1942, the SS, under the direction of Heinrich Himmler,  opened the first concentration camp brothel at Mauthausen. While there are many speculatory suppositions as to why this was initiated, Himmler himself thought it would be an effective incentive to promote a hard work ethic. In a letter to Oswald Pohl, he said:

“I consider it necessary to provide in the most liberal way hard-working prisoners with women in brothels.”

There are those that believe that these brothels were established to stop “the spread of male homosexuality within the camp.” [1] It was thought that if the homosexuals were forced to have sex with these women, it would cure them.

Of course it goes without saying that these brothels weren’t only used by prisoners. The women that worked in the brothels, of German, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, and Polish descent, were often used for sex by SS officers. For this the women were better fed and not treated as poorly. Many women knew that this was the difference between living and dying. Promised freedom from the camps–which of course never came true–the women worked in the brothels an average of two hours per night, having sex with six to eight men during this two-hour time period.

You would think that as a “hard-work[er],” given the right to visit the brothel, it would not be a humiliating event, but it was. If an SS officer had given you a brothel permit, you would first be medically examined. If everything checked out, when it was your time, your name would be read aloud at evening roll call, then you would be marched to the brothel. Once at the brothel, a doctor applied medicinal cream to your genitals.

Surely from here there is not much more humiliation that one person could endure, right?

Wrong! 

Dr. Robert Sommer, author of Das KZ Bordell (The Concentration Camp Brothel), said that “only 15 minutes’ sex and the missionary position were allowed.” If the prospect of being on a timer wasn’t pressure enough, “the SS had spy-holes to check up on them.”

The use of these brothels wasn’t common for the majority of men in Auschwitz, Sommer estimates that less than 1 percent of the camp population ever had access to brothels; it goes without saying that Jews were never permitted to partake in the usage of the brothels. I understand statistically that the number of men using and women employed in the brothels were low, but how is it that the knowledge of Auschwitz Block 24 is not well-known?

Dr. Robert Sommer believes that:

“It didn’t fit so easily into the postwar image of the concentration camps as monuments to suffering.”

Wilhelm Brasse, “famous photographer of Auschwitz”, said:

“Who was supposed to talk about it? Who was supposed to complain publicly? The girls were ashamed of having worked there, and the former prisoners of having gone there.”

“It would have compromised their status as martyrs.”

I believe that Auschwitz, like much of the terror of Hitler’s Nazi Party, is firmly focused on Jews. Nowadays, the term Holocaust is thrown around more than any other. The problem is that the term Holocaust generally only refers to Jewish deaths. If you check out the definition of Holocaust on Wikipedia, it briefly tells you the definition, then immediately tells of arguments where “scholars maintain that the definition of the Holocaust should also include the Nazis’ genocide of millions of people in other groups.” Below is a chart from Wikipedia.org showing estimated death counts.

Nazi-murders-brothels-of-auschwitz

As Jews do make up the majority, and Jews were not allowed to participate in the brothels, I believe that this is why the brothels of concentration camps were never made a large component of the camps’ history.

[1] http://vho.org/aaargh/fran/actu/actu00/doc2000/womensex.html

27 thoughts on “The Brothels of Auschwitz

    1. 🙁 Sad indeed! Some of the worst stuff I read was about medical experimentation. I may try to cover that next. I find the events surrounding Hitler and WW II very interesting. It is strange to me how the world sat by and let this happen for so long. But at the same time, not long before this America still had slavery…so I guess I can’t be that surprised.

  1. The Nazis, and their ultimate goal—the creation of a super race… Übermensch—has to be the most terrible example ever, of what happens when a government decides that the ends justify the means. When I think of long cold corridors and rooms filled with cubicles and long lines of people shuffling slowly forward—one step per minute—in my mind I see two worlds strikingly and horrifically justaposed, that of the 3rd Reich, and lately under Obama the United States of America.

  2. Are you freakin’ kidding me? You’re upset about the humiliation of those poor male prisoners, forced to undergo the humiliation of having medicinal cream applied to their genitals? You are pathetic.

    1. Right???? It was their choice for the most part, besides homosexuals, and the poor women that where forces to sleep with 6-8 men in two hours. That’s horrid.

  3. Be careful with broad statements such as these:
    “Of course it goes without saying that these brothels weren’t only used by prisoners. The women that worked in the brothels, of German, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, and Polish descent, were often used for sex by SS officers.”

    Yes, there were brothels in the camps – which is what you are writing of – but these were ONLY for the use of other inmates. Then there were OTHER Nazi brothels outside of the camps, staffed with German women for the use of German soldiers, so-called “field brothels.” These brothels did NOT employ camp inmates. The Nazis also created brothels with Ukrainian women for Ukrainian camp guards, and so forth. So in other words: yes, the Nazi brothel system was extensive, but it was also very carefully “racially” controlled.

  4. This is all bullshit. Hitler only had control of land containing 3.2 million Jews. They had movie theaters, gave concerts, played soccer, had hospitals and clinics…wrote letters home and even received some pay.

    1. Even Rabbi Stephen Wise claimed 4 million (Sarasotta Heral Tribune 1942) under German control of which “half have already been killed by Drs….injecting air bubbles and killling at the rate of 199 an hour each Dr”, really, you couldn’t make it up.

  5. Were do the numbers come from, I mean the number of killed victims, as the Romani, are said to be 25 000 for Europe, as Homosexual are not even mentioned and would be needed. So I don’t think Wikipedia can arrive with such numbers like 10 times for the gypsies and 800 000 jews more than the 6 million (that is possible with the unknowns that it was more than 8 millions or less than 6 500 anyhow, if nobody recalls who is missing, when all the village and the 99% of Nederland’s jews are dead, who can say how much jews did not go to get the stamp on the ID in Paris. They were wiser!
    More, some Jews were politics, but Jews first, when a anti nazi german citizen, non jewish, would only be a politic prisonner (in a world were a thief and a killer were the camp, or Lager Kapo to the most brillant poets and knowledge people from the social scholar or art elite of Europe. It is because of the ammount of jewish victims, so high that even between the weak intellectual survivors you would have a rate of nobel price worst or whatsoever. Does not mean that jews are more clever, that means that none of them, even the most respectable, tich and ^powerful by their strong skills, were trapped and had no more chance to escape than a young jewish thieve.
    So numbers. It should be very easy in west Europe to know because each gypsy used to have an ID. In fact they had to register themselves any time they moved from a place to another, by law, and that is why we know exactly how many gypsies were in France in 1900 to 1945, they were the first people to have a “carnet obligatoire de circulation'” de plusieurs pages avec photos et descriptions anthropométriques, pour des analphabètes incapables, et fiers de ne pas savoir lire les documents oppressants de l’oppresseurs. Quand on a voulu faire pareil avec toute la population et créer la carte nationale d’identité, à la base prévue pour les nomades, réfugiés, apatrides, enfin pour prouver qu’on est français. En effet il va plus vite de cueillir ceux qui ne sont pas listés que de lister uniquement ceux qu’il faut compter. Comprenez-vous?
    So there is two main numbers, the high percentage of Jews that used to leave in german army’s new land, is incredible, and he will to, and the fact, of the mass murder of Russian (USSR) soldiers. You may say that was war, I would say only the Russians have been so incredibly killed in Auschwitz, and they were the first (after the german politics, and the mental’ hill poor people or not productive citizen or the social sicks, as homosexual men and women. And all the different ones. But the Russians are like Jews. And when soldier didn’t pay as Jews but as Bolcheviks (Jews by concept and nature, slave by name and difference, untermenschen).
    There is a jewish tradition saying that counting people is sending them to death. While Jews always have to count themselves to be 10 bar mitzvah menshen but, there is a way…You know it is for the shekinah to be there, the holy spirit, you have to find ten men to be with it and pray together. Just to say…

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