University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Life in the Barracks

    The Bunker

    Severe punishments were routinely inflicted on the women of Ravensbrück.

    There were many methods of torturing and murdering the women at Ravensbrück, in addition to unviable slave labor, overcrowding, and starvation rations. Solitary confinement in the dark and airless prison cells of the "Bunker," the usual punishment for acts considered sabotage or resistance, was often accompanied by severe beatings or other torture.

    Other routine torture methods included attacks by SS dogs. In addition to the "Bunker," there was a barrack separated from the camp by a fence, which served as a punishment block. SS Reichsführer and Head of the German Police, Heinrich Himmler, ordered whippings beginning in April 1942. A prisoner categorized as a criminal carried out the orders, and received extra rations. The camp doctor was required to be present at each punishment, to confirm it had been carried out. Himmler later ordered whipping to be used only as a "last resort."

    On August 15, 1943 the "Bunker" was also a scene of medical experimentations on five young Polish political prisoners. This was done against their will, despite the protests from all of the prisoners from Barracks #15.

    Click on image to enlarge

    beating table

    Photo of beating table. Courtesy of MGR/SBG

    bunker corridor 3

    Photo of corridor of the  "bunker" prison cells. Courtesy of MGR/SBG.

    drawing of a beating

    Drawing of beating, artist unknown. Archive of MGR/SBG

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