University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Camp Chronology

    Camp Chronology

    During the six years of its existence, the camp became seriously overcrowded and increasingly harsh, and, by the winter of 1945, conditions at Ravensbrück became unbearable for the women.

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    the tent

    "The Tent," source unknown. Archive of MGR/SBG.

    The camp was designed to hold 5,000 women, but the population grew to more than six times that number, and the living conditions and treatment rapidly deteriorated, Between May, 1939, and June, 1944, an estimated 43,000 women were brought to Ravensbrück. During the next nine months, an estimated 90,000 more came. The most serious overcrowding occurred after the evacuation of Auschwitz in January, 1945, when an unknown but significant number of Jewish women arrived at Ravensbrück. Toward the end of the war, transports from Auschwitz and other camps in the East increased the population to its maximum, some 32,000 women. The conditions were unimaginable. Barracks built for 250 women later housed 1,500 or 2,000, with three to four to a bed. Thousands of women did not even have part of a bed, and were lying on the floor, without even a blanket. When 500 Jewish women arrived from Hungary in the fall of 1944, they were placed in a huge tent with a straw floor and died in masses. The tent was placed there because of overcrowding caused by the arrival of 12,000 women with children exhiled from Warsaw and the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944. Testimony indicates 5 women were placed in one shelf in the barracks.

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