A Day in the Life of a Concentration Camp Prisoner
A Day in the Life of a Concentration Camp Prisoner

A Day in the Life of a Concentration Camp Prisoner

Larry Holzwarth - September 27, 2019

A Day in the Life of a Concentration Camp Prisoner
Prisoners at Sachsenhausen in 1938 display both their serial numbers and identification patches sewn onto their uniforms. Wikimedia

25. The prisoners had “money” and the Germans provided means to spend it

Prisoners arriving at the concentration camps had all their valuables confiscated by the SS, including their money. At most camps they were distributed an allowance in the form prison currency. A class system developed in the camps based on the status of the prisoners. Some were VIPs, usually those held for political purposes. Their future value was considered by the SS when they granted them greater privileges. Others were functionaries of the camp itself. Others were the Kapos who assisted the SS in maintaining and operating the camps. The amount of camp currency received by each prisoner was dependent on where they found themselves within the camp’s hierarchy.

The SS provided the means of spending the currency earned within the camp. Although in most camps Jews were excluded from using their earnings. Who could use various facilities, and to what level, depended on one thing. The color of the triangular badges worn by all prisoners determined their priority. Jews wore two yellow triangles which formed the Star of David. Homosexuals wore pink triangles, which allowed them to use the Lagerbordell, a camp brothel established by the Germans at nearly all camps. The women who staffed them were mostly prisoners from Ravensbruck (Auschwitz selected them from its own prisoners). Himmler encouraged homosexuals be allowed to use the brothels in the belief it might “cure” them from the deviancy which had caused their imprisonment.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps”. Nikolaus Wachsmann. 2015

“Germany and the Camp System”. Auschwitz, Inside the Nazi State. PBS.org. Online

“Transportation to camps”. Entry, The Holocaust Explained. Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide. Online

“German resistance report on prisoner arrivals at Esterwegen, 1936”. Display, Daily Life. The Nazi Concentration Camps. Online

“A Jew Who Beat Jews in a Nazi Camp is Stripped of His Citizenship”. Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times. February 5, 1988

“Enemies of the State”. Entry, The Holocaust Encyclopedia. US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Online

“The Former Political Prisoner Julius Freund on Roll Calls”. Display, Daily Life. The Nazi Concentration Camps. Online

“Dora-Mittelbrau/Nordhausen”. Article, Holocaust Education & Research Team. Online

“The Prisoner Dionys Lenard on Early Mornings in Majdanek”. Display, Daily Life. The Nazi Concentration Camps. Online

“Diary Entry by the Norwegian Prisoner Odd Nansen”. Display, Daily Life. The Nazi Concentration Camps. Online

“The Survivor Wladyslaw Kuraszkiewicz on the “Muselmanner”. Display, Daily Life, The Nazi Concentration Camps. Online

“Daily Routines”. Article, The Holocaust Explained. Wiener Library. Online

“Euthanasia Killings”. Article, US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Online

“The Ustashi Legacy: Remembering the Children’s Concentration Camp in Sisak”. Marinella Matejcic, Global Voices. February 6, 2015

“Living and Sanitary Conditions at Birkenau”. Entry, Living Conditions. Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp. Online

“Concentration Camp System: In Depth”. Entry, Holocaust Encyclopedia. US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Online

“Terezin (Theresienstadt): The ‘Model’ Ghetto”. Article, The Jewish Virtual Library. Online

“Only Nazi Concentration Camp on British Soil May Be Protected”. BBC News, Guernsey. March 10, 2015. Online

“The Order of the Day”. Article, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Online

“Concentration Camp Bordellos: ‘The Main Thing Was To At All”. Mareike Fallet and Simone Kaiser, Spiegel Online. June 25, 2009. Online

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