The Auschwitz brothel where prisoners were ‘rewarded’



Set just behind the notorious Work Makes You Free gate at Auschwitz concentration camp lies one of the lesser-known horrors of WWII – a brothel for prisoners.In a diabolical scheme aimed at encouraging inmates to work harder, 76 years ago this month Gestapo monster Heinrich Himmler ordered brothels to be set up in concentration camps across Nazi-occupied Europe.The twisted plan conceived in October 1941, was aimed at increasing prisoners’ productivity by offering the starved and tortured inmates a bonus system – if they worked hard enough they would be ‘rewarded’ with a visit to the camp brothel.The first ‘Dolls’ House’, as they were known, was set up a year later in 1942, behind barred windows at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.This was followed by more in Ravensbruk, Buchenwald, Dachau and Flossenburg, among others.In total there were ten death camp brothels. Two of the largest were in Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland, with the main brothel nicknamed ‘Puff’ sitting just behind the sinister Arbeit Macht Frei entrance in Block 24.Established at the beginning of WWII following Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Auschwitz grew to become the largest killing machine in history.An estimated 1.1 million people were murdered through executions, beatings, slave labour and gas chambers.The man charged with implementing the plan was SS doctor Siegfried Schwela. In a chilling meeting with prison doctors he laid out his blueprint for the running of the brothels, instructing staff to ensure both male and female prisoners were ‘clean’, the women were sterilised and only the missionary position could be used.He also demanded that SS thugs watch through spy holes to make sure the women didn’t spend more than 15 minutes with each prisoner.And he imposed strict race laws, insisting that only German men could visit German women and Slavic men could only meet with Slavic women.Jews and Russian prisoners were forbidden. Schwela was killed by the resistance before implementing his plans, but in August 1943 and November 1943 both brothels came into operation under the command of SS beast Oswald Kaduk.Non-Jewish women were lured into volunteering with promises of better living conditions and better food rations.Mainly in their 20s, the women were made to have sex with an average of 6-8 men every night between 8 and 10pm.They also had to ‘work’ on Sunday afternoons. As many as 21 women prisoners worked in the Auschwitz brothels which were known as Sonderbauten (special buildings).The final brothel was opened in 1945, the year the Second World War ended. Emaciated prisoners chosen for the brothels were given a humiliating medical check and had disinfectant cream smeared over their genitals.Their names were called out in public role calls and they were force-marched into the brothel.But often the men were too physically weak or ill to engage in intercourse. Iga Bunalska from the Auschwitz Study Group told MailOnline: ‘SS men would come to the building as a new transport was being registered, tell them they are looking for women to do some light work.’The women volunteered to do it. Some of them would change their minds when they learned what the work was about, but a lot of them stayed.’If a woman was pretty and healthy – they were checked by the doctors before being accepted – they would start working in the brothel.Of course, the women could not be Jewish. ‘The women were given a warm place to live, each of them had their own room with nice furniture.’They were given additional food from the SS kitchen, luxurious clothes and underwear coming from the warehouses of the goods stolen from the people who were killed in the gas chambers.’They were given all the medical care they might need. All of that made surviving the camp much easier.’She added: ‘The brothels were opened every day in the evening, after the main evening roll-call, when other prisoners were sometimes still coming back to the camp after a day of tough work – there was a huge contrast between the women, and the other prisoners.’The women could see how the prisoners looked, how tired, how beaten up and bloodied they were.’Haunting prisoner testimonies unearthed by the Auschwitz Study Group at the Auschwitz museum in Poland show the reaction of prisoners to the brothels and the women who worked in them.One prisoner called Jozef Szajna recalled: ‘The brothels were just part of how the SS tormented the prisoners.’Everybody who thinks that Block 24 was some kind of a gift given t

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