The Special Block"
Quintan Ana Wikswo
Dachau/New York, NY, 2103
© Quintan Ana Wikswo, New York NY
"On the 11th of July, 1943, sixteen female prisoners
were raped by ninety-four men for a Schutzstaffel
profit of one hundred and forty-one Reichsmarks"
There were brothels for prisoners in several concentration camps. In the so-called Sonderbauten, female prisoners who had usually been classified as "asocial" were forced to work there as prostitutes. As part of the system of rewards, male prisoners in the camps were often allowed to visit these special blocks. After the war only very few of the women gave accounts of their forced prostitution, as the fear of stigmatization was too great. The special blocks in the concentration camps were usually torn down. For decades, no plaques commemorated their existence; no signs remained of what had taken place.
Quintan Ana Wikswo spoke with several of the women about the time they spent in the camp brothels and conducted anonymous interviews. She visited the Dachau memorial several times, searching the grounds in vain for the special block and its history. Using cameras that women had produced in Dachau as forced laborers for the Agfa company, Wikswo began photographing the grounds. She put flowers inside the old, defective cameras between lens and film. Unique photographs resulted, the damaged effect of which was intended, symbolizing the injuries and suffering of the women who had been forced into prostitution. Wikswo created fragmentary and abstract texts for each photograph, evoking the history of the Sonderbauten.
With her work Quintan Ana Wikswo has broken the taboo surrounding the brothels and has created a personal remembrance ritual of the special blocks.
For further information on "Sonderbauten/
The Special Block" by Quintan Ana Wikswo, please also read Quintan Ana Wikswo, SONDERBAUTEN: Der besondere Block/The Special Block (PDF, 110 KB). We thank the Kehrer Verlag for granting permission to use this text.
- Excerpts from the artist's talk "Something Important is Happening Here"
with Quintan Ana Wikswo on Friday 18 October 2013 at the
Jewish Museum Berlin(in English)
The Artist Quintan Ana Wikswo
Quintan Ana Wikswo is a transdisciplinary artist working in visual art, literature, film, and performance collaboration. Recognized for her visionary explorations of innovative new art-forms, her award-winning projects are widely exhibited, published, and performed with prominent institutions in New York, Los Angeles, France, and Germany, including major solo museums exhibitions. She lives in New York City, where she is the Co-Artistic Director of Fieldshift Further.
For more information, please visit www.quintanwikswo.com.
Trailer for the exhibition
Jewish Museum Berlin
Lindenstr. 9-14, 10969 Berlin
Old Building, first level
10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
10 a.m. to 8 p.m
reduced charge 3 euros
Children up to the
age of 6 years free
Family ticket (2 adults, up to 4 children): 14 euros
A museum ticket is valid for both the permanent exhibition and the special exhibition.
Guided Tours through the Exhibition
Accompanying the exhibition, public tours through the exhibition are offered every Sunday at 2:00 pm (in German only). Additional tours can be booked for groups in a variety of languages.
Blog Entries on the Exhibition
The blog of the Jewish Museum Berlin regularly adds posts that are related to the exhibition theme before and during the exhibition: