A new exhibition in Germany opens up a subject that has long been taboo – the use of female concentration camp inmates to provide sexual services to male slave laborers as production incentives during World War II.
“Hardly any other topic from the history of the concentration camps has, on the one hand, been kept so quiet & repressed & is, on the other hand, so tainted with prejudice & distortion, as the forced prostitution of female camp inmates for male camp inmates by the SS,” commented Insa Eschebach, the director of the Ravensbrück Memorial Museum, at the opening of the exhibition.
Between 300 & 400 women were forced to become sex workers in brothels in ten concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald & Sachsenhausen. A visit to a brothel, known as a “special barrack,” was part of a system of incentives intended to boost the productivity of concentration camp slave laborers. These bonuses were not; however, extended to every group of inmates – Jews in particular were excluded. The idea for the forced prostitution came from Heinrich Himmler himself, as a letter from the SS leader on display in the exhibition shows.
Among the around 200 exhibits are index cards where the prisoners, who came mostly from the Ravensbrück concentration camp, are identified as “brothel women,” documents about the bureaucratic organization of the sexual slavery, & audio recordings of male inmates talking about their visits to the brothels. Photos are on the whole not included in the exhibition “to avoid possible voyeuristic expectations,” the spokesperson of the Foundation of Brandenburg Memorials, Horst Seferens explained. [Read More]