Sommer 2009 Brothels

Title Information

Author: Robert Sommer

Title: Camp Brothels

Subtitle: Forced Sex Labour in Nazi Concentration Camps

In: Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century

Edited by: Dagmar Herzog

Place: Basingstoke

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Year: 2009

Pages: 168-196

Series: Genders and Sexualities in History

ISBN-10: 0230542530 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

ISBN-13: 9780230542532 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780230285637 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780230234291 (ebk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | German History | Types: Forced Prostitution

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Additional Information

Author: Author's Website

Abstract: »Thoughtfully interpreting such sources as concentration camp brothel visitor lists and medical reports on cervical smear tests, Robert Sommer turns our attention to the highly changeable nature and content of sexual desires in the midst of mass deprivation and death and analyzes the reasons for the establishment of prisoner brothels in ten of the major Nazi concentration camps from 1942 on (in Germany, Austria, and Poland). Sommer charts as well the recruitment strategies of the SS to find sexual slave workers, the operation and supervision of the brothels, the enormous status differentials among prisoners, and the motivations of male prisoners who visited the brothels as well as the reactions of those who did not. Both the SS-run granite quarry companies and the chemical giant I.G. Farben believed they could get higher productivity out of their slave laborers if they offered them not only more food and improved piece work rates, but also brothel visits. While a few scholars have recently worked to recover the experiences of women who were forced to provide the sexual slave labor, Sommer turns to the heretofore wholly unexplored matters of the male visitors' motivations (often existential more than sexual in the conventional sense), the dystopian streamlining of their sexual activity, as well as the surveillance mechanisms and voyeurism of the guards – and some prisoners' efforts to subvert these and build something resembling relationality with the women they visited.« (Source: Dagmar Herzog. »Introduction: War and Sexuality in Europe's Twentieth Century.« Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century. Edited by Dagmar Herzog. Basingstoke 2009: 9)


  History of the camp brothels (p. 168)
  Forced sex labourers and life on the Sonderbau (p. 172)
  The surveillance and control of the camp brothels (p. 175)
  The society of camp prisoners and the brothel (p. 180)
  Summary (p. 187)
  Notes (p. 188)

Wikipedia: German camp brothels in World War II

Added: June 21, 2014 | Last updated: June 21, 2014