University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Life in the Barracks

    Life in the Barracks

    Life in the barracks became increasingly more difficult with the rising population of the camp.


    Photo of bunk beds, Courtesy of MGR/SBG .

    The women were awakened for roll call by 4;00 AM. After standing outside until everyone was accounted for, they drank their imitation coffee and went off to work. They returned to their assigned barracks for their noontime soup and again in the evening, when the soup was repeated, On Sundays the women were not required to work, and socialized in the barracks or outside to the limited extent possible.

    Overcrowding in the barracks became more severe after the arrival of 12,000 Polish civilians in August 1944 and the beginning of evacuations from Auschwitz. A plague of lice and danger of disease from the water made life in the barracks even more unbearable. Before roll call, sometimes 500 women stood in the latrine around three "toilets" with no doors. Every straw sack in the threetiered bunk beds held up to four women. When conditions deteriorated even further, thousands of women did not even have part of a bunk, and were lying on the floor, without even a blanket. Already insufficient rations became more and more meager as time went on.

    block assignment

    "Block Assignment." Drawing by Ravensbrück Czech political prisoner Nina Jirsikova, Ravensbrücker Zeichnungen. © MGR/SBG.

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