House of Dolls

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House of Dolls
First English-language edition
AuthorKa-tzetnik 135633
TranslatorMoshe M. Kohn
GenreNon-fiction novel
PublisherSimon & Schuster (first English edition)
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

House of Dolls is a 1953 novella by Ka-tzetnik 135633. The novella describes "Joy Divisions", which were groups of Jewish women in the concentration camps during World War II who were kept for the sexual pleasure of Nazi soldiers.


Between 1942 and 1945, Auschwitz and nine other Nazi concentration camps contained camp brothels (Freudenabteilungen "Joy Divisions"), mainly used to reward cooperative non-Jewish inmates.[1][2] In the documentary film Memory of the Camps, a project supervised by the British Ministry of Information and the American Office of War Information during the summer of 1945, camera crews filmed women who had been forced into sexual slavery for the use of guards and favoured prisoners. The film-makers stated that as the women died they were replaced by women from the concentration camp Ravensbrück.[3]

Literature and scholarly references[edit]

In his essay "Narrative Perspectives on Holocaust Literature", Leon Yudkin uses House of Dolls as one of his key examples of the ways in which authors have approached the Holocaust, using the work as an example of "diaries (testimonies) that look like novels" due to its reliance on its author's own experiences.[4]

Ronit Lentin discusses House of Dolls in her work Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah. In her book Lentin interviews a child of Holocaust survivors, who recalls House of Dolls as one of her first exposures to the Holocaust. Lentin notes that the "explicit, painful" story made a huge impact when published and states that "many children of holocaust survivors who write would agree . . . that House of Dolls represents violence and sexuality in a manner which borders on the pornographic".[5]

Na'ama Shik, researching at Yad Vashem, the principal Jewish organization for the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust, considers the book as fiction.[6] Nonetheless it is part of the Israeli high school curriculum.

The success of the book showed there was a market for Nazi exploitation popular literature, known in Israel as Stalags. However Yechiel Szeintuch from the Hebrew University rejects links between the smutty Stalags on the one hand, and Ka-Tzetnik's works, which he insists were based on reality, on the other.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

British post-punk band Joy Division took their name from the reference in this book. One of their early songs, "No Love Lost", also contains a short excerpt from the novella.[7]

Love Camp 7 (1968), considered to be the first Nazi exploitation film, is set in a concentration camp "Joy Division".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New Exhibition Documents Forced Prostitution in Concentration Camps Spiegel Online, 15 January 2007
  2. ^ Auschwitz, inside the Nazi state: Corruption, PBS. Accessed 28 April 2007.
  3. ^ Memory of the Camps, Frontline, PBS
  4. ^ Yudkin, Leon; various co-authors (1993). "Narrative Perspectives on Holocaust Literature". In Leon Yudkin (ed.). Hebrew Literature in the Wake of the Holocaust. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. pp. 13–32. ISBN 0-8386-3499-0.
  5. ^ Lentin, Ronit (2000). Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence. Berghahn Books. pp. 33–34, 66 n. 4. ISBN 1-57181-775-1.
  6. ^ a b Israel’s Unexpected Spinoff From a Holocaust Trial, Isabel Kershner, New York Times, September 6, 2007
  7. ^ Taysom, Joe (18 May 2020). "Joy Division captured at early London show in 1978". Far Out. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  8. ^ "A Joy Division in Nazi Disneyland". WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Retrieved 2021-09-11.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]