“It Sounds like Total Fiction:” An Investigation into how and why the Nazi Regime used Brothels to Control Inmates within its Concentration Camps.




Van Der Meer, Kästle

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Between 1942 and 1945, the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) established 10 brothels, for prisoner use only, within select concentration camps. Such brothels were established in order to provide an incentive for male prisoners to work harder and reach work quotas during a period when prisoner productivity was extremely low. The SS also attempted to use the brothels as a tool to convert homosexual prisoners. Ultimately, the brothels were not successful in serving these interests. Only a select number of privileged prisoners were permitted access to the brothels; not nearly enough to significantly affect camp productivity rates. Had the SS been logical in its attempts to increase productivity, it would have improved camp working and living conditions for all inmates instead of providing a few prisoners with superficial incentives to work harder. Additionally, forced visits to the brothel reinforced gay men’s homosexuality rather than reversing it. However, although the brothel system failed to serve its intended purposes, it provided the SS with a tool to further monitor prisoners and exploit the prisoner hierarchy to its advantage.



Holocaust, brothel, Nazis, sex work, genocide, history, World War Two