WOMEN IN AUSCHWITZ

 

In March 1942, the first women's department was established in Auschwitz I by dividing the former mens's camp with a brick wall two metres high. The first women were 999 inmates of ravensbrück concentration camp.

On August 16, 1942, the women's camp in Auschwitz I was dissolved and transferred to Birkenau. During this time, the first mass extermination of female prisoners took place: 4.000 out of 12.000 female inmates were still gassed in Auschwitz I, the rest was brought to Birkenau.

The first women's camp in Birkenau was soon overcrowded, thus it had to be supplemented by an additional part of the men's camp. Again in 1944, more parts of the camp were added to the women's camp..

Since there were only few German political prisoners in Birkenau, their share of camp officials was rather low. The majority of camp officials was recruited by German prostitutes. Besides, there was a small group of Jewish camp prominents, such as some Slovak Jews, who were an absolute exception, because they were seen as "inferior people" - together with gypsies and slavs. Usually, their place in the social camp hierarchy was at the bottom.

Women suffered more than male inmates from the jam of people in the barracks, from the completely insufficient sanitary equipments, the endless roll-calls and the tortures of the SS-guards.

Many of the female guards were just as brutal and cruel as their male collegues. SS-Men and Women were even competing in the brutality against the prisoners. One of the most feared women was the women's camp "Oberaufseherin" Maria Mandel, who also participated in selections.

Women lost their shape faster than men and therefore reached more quickly the condition of the so-called "Muselmann". The average life expectancy for women was generally twice as short as for men.

The expectation of life was a bit higher, when female inmates were able to work in "good commandos", such as kitchen, secretaries in the political section, sewing works, serving the family of the commander etc.. All other women had to work as hard as men.

German prostitutes could also work in the camp whorehouse, which was located on the first floor of block 24 in Auschwitz I and which had been established for specially "honoured", usually "Aryan" prisoners. Some SS-officials ignored all prohibitions of the racial laws and took up relationships with female prisoners, who - to a certain extend - could benefit a while from such relations. But mostly, SS-guards would not hesitate to kill their lover if she endangered him.

Women were also used as testmodels for pseudo-medical tests. The most cruel SS-doctors were Dr. Schumann , who sterilized women with X-rays, Dr. Clauberg who sterilized with chemical preparations, who artificially fertilized women and castrated men and DDr. Mengele who undertook the so-called "Zwillingsforschung" (experiments with twins), racial research with gypsies and Lilliputians.