Part of the mission of the National Library of Israel is to secure copies of all material published in Israel.
Normally this is not a problem, and the collection of the National Library of Israel is unrivaled in the world for its collection of Hebraica and Judaica. But on occasion, collecting everything published in Israel makes for some awkward moments. Case in point, the library’s hidden collection of “stalags” or nazi themed porno paperbacks, created and written by Israeli authors and consumed by Israeli teenagers in the 1960s.
Stalags were a short lived phenomenon, only lasting a handful of years before being made illegal. Curiously, they reached the height of their popularity during the famous Eichmann trial. Originally said to simply be translations of English authors, on closer inspection the genre seems to have been fully Israeli. Almost the only pornographic material available, it was purchased by teenagers, often the children of Holocaust survivors.
The plots usually involved female SS officers (non-existent in the actual WWII) hell-bent on punishing a male, generally American or English, hero imprisoned in her Stalag of pain/pleasure. These books were also heavily influenced by the 1955 book “The House of Dolls” by K. Tzetnik, an anonymous survivor of Auschwitz who wrote about women prisoners forced into prostitution by the Nazi guards. Though received well in the 1950s, the book was later said to be fictional, and has since been recast and is thought of as a precursor to the “Stalag” books.
A particularly famous Stalag was “I Was Colonel Schultz’s Private Bitch” which caused such an uproar that all the copies of the books were confiscated by the police.
After two years of high popularity the stalag books were made illegal and largely disappeared from Israeli society , unless of course you go to the National Library of Israel where held in a back room, not available to the public (though accessible if you are a researcher) are copies of “I Was Colonel Schultz’s Private Bitch” and many other Stalags, examples of the many strange ways in which culture handles and mixes tragedy, violence and sex into new and strange brews.
A documentary about the Stalag books was recently Written & Directed by Ari Libsker.
Know Before You Go
The museum exhibitions vary and, at least in December of 2017, the Stalag exhibit was not showing. Call ahead to see whats on when you'll be there.