Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Disassembled bunk bed from Auschwitz concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2014.376.2

Disassembled prisoner bunk bed from Auschwitz concentration camp. Auschwitz was established in the spring of 1940, in an abandoned Polish army barracks near Oswiecim, Poland. During its use, the camp complex was continuously expanded, becoming the largest and most lethal that the Germans built. Once prisoners arrived at the camp, the men and women were separated and went through selection. Those who were not selected for immediate execution were forced to work. Prisoners lived in either brick or wooden barracks, and slept on wooden bunk beds which were sometimes layered with straw bedding. The bunks were theoretically designed to hold three people, but in reality at times slept up to 18. The straw bedding was often fouled by sick prisoners, and the barracks lacked sanitation and were swarmed with rats and other vermin which festered disease. The barracks were leaky and not insulated. They were heated by two small stoves, but they were not sufficient to heat the entire space. Prisoners spent over ten hours per day working, driven on by guards and Kapos who beat anyone who faltered. The majority of prisoners selected for work died from overwork, mistreatment, disease or hunger. The prisoners initially worked to expand the camp, but over time the work expanded to include armaments manufacture, clerical jobs, trades and crafts, and labor on roads, farms, factories, mines, and chemical plants. In January 1945, the camp system was evacuated ahead of approaching Soviet forces. The Soviet army liberated 6,000 sick and dying prisoners on January 27, 1945.

use:  1940 April-1945 January 27
use: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oświęcim (Poland)
Furnishings and Furniture
Object Type
Bunk beds (lcsh)
Bunk beds.
Credit Line
Donated: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:27:11
This page: