The brothel in KL Auschwitz

One of the least explored areas in all concentration camps of the Third Slaughter, including the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, is the question of sexuality among prisoners. This is because the women who worked in brothels for many years, and often even for the rest of their lives, did not talk about the tasks they performed in the camp. It was a very humiliating point for them. The second point is that many prisoners were afraid to admit that they had used the services of sex workers, and the horror of the camp events overshadowed the erotic experiences. What was the sex life like in the camp?

In June 1943, on the premises of the Auschwitz main camp, in block number 24, „Puff” was created, which in German means a brothel. The price of using the services of sex workers was two marks, which is exactly the price of a pack of cigarettes in the camp. You also had to have a coupon. All prisoners could use the brothel once a week, except for those of Jewish origin. There were also attempts to use the brothel in other ways, for example by sneaking or breaking into it, for which a penalty was imposed. The puff was open for several hours after the evening roll call and a little longer on Sundays.

There are several views as to why a brothel was built in the camp at all. According to one of them, its role was to reward prisoners for their hard work. By using the services, they were to fulfil their sexual needs, which theoretically could not be met in any other way in the camp. Another view is that brothels were built to combat homosexuality, which was an unacceptable deviation punishable by exile in concentration camps. Another view is that the place was built for SS men and the concentration camp staff and was supposed to be aimed at the dignity of the female workers working there.

About ten women worked at Puff. They could only be Aryans, Jewish women were not accepted. It was possible to apply voluntarily, and according to one of the former prisoners, Ella Lingens, the recruitment sounded very attractive in the context of everyday living conditions. The employees were promised a separate room, better food rations, daily bathing, cigarettes, clothes, and possible release from the camp. For the women who worked under very hard conditions and got hungry rations of food, this was the promise of a better world. It is not known, however, whether all the employees volunteered or were somehow forced to do so. The contraceptive methods were not particularly taken care of, hence the cases of pregnancies among female employees, as not all of them were subject to sterilization. Such pregnancies were terminated very quickly.

On the contrary to the rest of the camp victims, the employees of the brothels did not receive any financial compensation or they had to fight for them in courts for years. The reason for this was „voluntary job application”. Historians and psychologists claim that the women who worked in the camp brothels, including those working in KL Auschwitz, were exhausted both mentally and physically after the war.

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