Experienced inmates had many advantages over newcomers. They knew the spoken and unspoken rules of the camps, and had built up vital connections. They wanted to protect their positions and often closed ranks against new arrivals, as the former Buchenwald prisoner Eugen Kogon recalled soon after the war.
The “greenhorn” was contemptuously rejected. There was much boastful reference to hardships undergone in the days when things were “really tough”. “What do you know about a concentration camp?” was one of the pat phrases. “Now back in 19–, when we …” “You should have seen Sergeant So-and-So!” “Anyone who hasn’t been in Camp X hasn’t any idea at all!” Thus ran the stereotyped patter of crude conceit, put forward for no other purpose than to deprecate the newcomer and maintain class superiority. The psychological bag of tricks of such men included the attempt to cover up their own moral deficiencies by overemphasis on how hardened they were. But such tricks are not peculiar to the concentration camps. In the complete isolation and the special atmosphere of cruelty of the concentration camps, this feature was merely developed more sharply.
Source: E. Kogon, The Theory and Practice of Hell (New York, 2006), p. 310