The Nazi Concentration Camps

Daily life

Prisoner bunks after liberation.

The Wiener Library

The Camp SS regarded prisoners as enemies deserving brutal punishment. From the moment of their arrival, prisoners suffered abuse and humiliation. The SS wanted total domination and imposed a strict daily schedule. Prisoners were never allowed enough rest. After the morning roll call, most prisoners marched to work. At the end of each exhausting day, prisoners fell onto their bunks, already dreading the next morning.

Prisoner roll call in Sachsenhausen (1941)

The Wiener Library

Living conditions were poor, because the SS believed that prisoners deserved no better. Before the war, the SS still provided a bare minimum. During the war, conditions became deadly. Prisoners slept in broken-down barracks with leaking roofs. They were crammed onto tiny bunks, often without blankets, or directly onto muddy floors. Some prisoners had to sleep in flimsy tents or damp tunnels. Rations were cut, causing mass starvation. Hunger and disease turned many prisoners into living skeletons. Seriously ill prisoners had little hope of survival. Camp hospitals offered hardly any medical treatment. Instead, sick inmates were routinely executed or deported to die in other camps.