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Camp Brothel

 a  “Near the entrance, a barracks was adapted for use as a brothel, one room for the SS block leader and 10 others for the prostitutes and their patrons. These were single rooms with bed linens and pictures on the walls. […] Block elders, Kapos, and foremen now had an opportunity to sign their names on a waiting list for the brothel in the office, and the Rapportführer, or camp marshal, assigned them a certain day. The brothel was in operation after work and on Sunday afternoons. At the front door stood a table, at which the Rapportführer himself usually sat and entered the patrons’ prisoner numbers in a list and collected the 5 mark bonus coupon. A prisoner orderly from the infirmary gave the patrons an injection to prevent possible diseases, and the prostitutes were assigned by the SS man. [...] Many, especially well-informed political prisoners, did not visit the brothel, wishing to avoid exposure to SS blackmail attempts. Many an intrigue was hatched among the brothel patrons, and punitive transfers and floggings were the result of the escapades of the camp VIPs.”

(Fritz Kleinmann: “Überleben im KZ.” In: Reinhold Gärtner / Fritz Kleinmann, eds.: Doch der Hund will nicht krepieren… Tagebuchnotizen aus Auschwitz (Thaur: Kulturverlag, 1995), pp. 34–114, here pp. 88–89. (Transl. KL))
 b  “The brothel is reserved exclusively for ‘Aryan VIPs,’ but the German communists don’t use it. The institution itself is located in a block marked off by barbed wire. There the ‘green gentlemen’ [criminals, who wore green triangles] and the Poles vie for the favor of the ladies, who lack for nothing. In the brothel there is liquor, foodstuffs, wine, articles of clothing , and perfume. The Rapportführer, who is in charge, places great emphasis on the smooth functioning of this brothel. Every day he takes his ladies outside the camp for a walk and has them call him ‘Papi.’”
(Robert Waitz: “Auschwitz III, Monowitz.” In: Leon Poliakov / Josef Wulf, eds.: Das Dritte Reich und die Juden (Berlin: Arani, 1955), pp. 267–272, here p. 272. (Transl. KL))
 c  Primo Levi, in his autobiographical novel Survival in Auschwitz, describes a short boom period for prize-coupons, the result of “the arrival of a fresh contingent of robust Polish girls in place of the old inmates of the Frauenblock.” “In fact, as the prize-coupon is valid for entry to the Frauenblock (for the criminals and politicals; not for the Jews, who on the other hand, do not feel affected by this restriction), those interested actively and rapidly cornered the market: hence the revaluation, which, in any case, did not last long.”
(Primo Levi: Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) [first published as If This Is a Man], p. 80.)

In addition to the introduction of prize-coupons, the idea of a camp brothel also found favor with I.G. Farben  a : The authorities and the plant management placed “the greatest value on the existence of an institution of this type in the camp, and as their voluminous correspondence indicates, they treated it as a major factor in boosting the prisoners’ productivity.”[1] In late 1943, a brothel was opened in the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp; I.G. Farben managers euphemistically referred to it as the Häftlingssonderbau (special building for prisoners) or Frauenhaus (women’s house).


It consisted of a barracks on the camp grounds that was enclosed by a barbed-wire fence, in which generally 10 to 20 female prisoners (primarily Polish women) were forced to serve as prostitutes. The camp brothel was open three evenings a week; during this time, “the admirers follow one another at 20-minute intervals according to a previously determined schedule, and an Aryan doctor is available, with a cubicle for prophylactic measures.”[2] Prisoners had access to the camp brothel once a week at most. They had to pay the equivalent of two reichsmarks for this “service,” with part of that sum going to the women forced into prostitution and part to the female overseer of the brothel. The remainder went to the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office. This “perquisite,” according to Monowitz survivor Robert Waitz, was granted only to a chosen group of prisoner functionaries.  b 


No brothel visits were scheduled for Jews, because that would have violated the Nazi laws on so-called Rassenschande (racial defilement), prohibiting sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews. Besides, most Jewish inmates were far too debilitated to think of sexual needs. Accordingly, the opening of the camp brothel also failed to produce any appreciable rise in the prisoners’ work productivity levels.


The women forced into prostution were replaced at irregular intervals  c , and the exhausted  victims were “transferred” to Birkenau. The last group of women was made to take part in the death march in January 1945, together with the other prisoners in the Auschwitz camps. Nothing is known about their whereabouts and their experiences.

(SP; transl. KL)


Alakus, Baris/ Kniefacz, Katharina / Vorberg, Robert: Sex-Zwangsarbeit in nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslagern. Vienna: Mandelbaum, 2006.

Kleinmann, Fritz: “Überleben im KZ.” In: Reinhold Gärtner / Fritz Kleinmann, eds.: Doch der Hund will nicht krepieren… Tagebuchnotizen aus Auschwitz. Thaur: Kulturverlag, 1995, pp. 34–114.

Levi, Primo: Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996 [first published as If This Is a Man].

Setkiewicz, Piotr: “Ausgewählte Probleme aus der Geschichte des IG Werkes Auschwitz.” In: Hefte von Auschwitz 22 (2002), pp. 7–147.

Wagner, Bernd C.: IG Auschwitz. Zwangsarbeit und Vernichtung von Häftlingen des Lagers Monowitz 1941–1945. Munich: Saur, 2000.

Waitz, Robert: “Auschwitz III, Monowitz.” In: Leon Poliakov / Josef Wulf, eds.: Das Dritte Reich und die Juden. Berlin: Arani, 1955, pp. 267–272.

[1] Piotr Setkiewicz: “Ausgewählte Probleme aus der Geschichte des IG Werkes Auschwitz.” In: Hefte von Auschwitz 22 (2002), pp. 7–147, here p. 87. (Translated by KL)

[2] Robert Waitz: “Auschwitz III, Monowitz.” In: Leon Poliakov / Josef Wulf, eds.: Das Dritte Reich und die Juden (Berlin: Arani, 1955), pp. 267–272, here p. 272. (Translated by KL)