The Nazis Ran Prison Brothels

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Not really a surprise but not something that received much attention in the past. From Yahoo News:

For decades no one wanted to remember the concentration camp “special blocks” where the Nazis forced female inmates to entertain their male peers.

Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler had ordered the creation of camp brothels in 1941. His logic was chilling — male prisoners would work harder if offered the incentive of sex, and if only a few had this privilege it would crush solidarity.

As the horrors of Hitler’s death camps emerged, the brothels swiftly became taboo. The mainly German women who had staffed them were too scarred by the experience to speak of it, whereas the male inmates who used them remained silent in shame.

Now an exhibition in Ravensbrueck women’s concentration camp north of Berlin aims to shed light on the brothels and expose the Nazis’ sinister attempt to manipulate prisoners’ sexuality. ….

… Although prostitution was officially forbidden by the Nazis, the elite SS guards had set up a network of brothels catering to German soldiers, forced laborers and prisoners, which they intended in part to stamp out homosexuality.

From 1942 onwards, 200-300 gentile prisoners from the camp were forced to work in 10 camp brothels across Germany, Austria and Poland. Almost all had been imprisoned as “anti-social.”

At first some women volunteered for service as prostitutes, falsely informed they would be released after 6 months. Later they were forcibly recruited during roll call or even from the camp sick bay.

Although the women got slightly better rations and could wear civilian clothes, the work reduced most to physical wrecks. Many caught sexually transmitted diseases, were subject to medical experiments or were forced to have abortions. …

Bizarrely, the man who is publicizing the issue still seems convinced that one of the forced prostitutes liked him:

Frieda was the first woman Van Dijk had seen in 6 months. He was a teenager, sent to Buchenwald for fleeing a forced labor troop and smuggling rations to Kampen’s Jews and was in awe of her. She appreciated his youthful coyness.

“One day I was sent to clean in the block and I found myself alone with her… She gave me some Schnaps, blew cigarette smoke in my mouth and we landed in bed. It was my first time and you never forget.”

Later he had to pay like the others to see Frieda, a privilege allowed him as he was imprisoned neither on racial nor political grounds.

In any event, you can read the article in its entirety here.

–Ann Bartow

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