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Prisoner bunk bed from Auschwitz concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2014.376.1

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    Brief Narrative
    Prisoner bunk bed from Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. Auschwitz was established in the spring of 1940, in an abandoned Polish army barracks near Oswiecim. 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 leaky, uninsulated barracks made of either brick or wood, and slept on wooden bunk beds that were sometimes layered with straw bedding. The bunks were theoretically designed to hold three people, one per tier, but in reality sometimes slept up to 18. The straw bedding was often fouled by sick prisoners. The barracks lacked sanitation and were swarmed with rats, lice, and other vermin which fostered disease. They were heated by two small stoves, which were not sufficient to heat the entire space. Prisoners worked ten hours per day, 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)
    Credit Line
    Donated: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau

    Physical Details

    Polish Russian
    Furnishings and Furniture
    Object Type
    Bunk beds (lcsh)
    Bunk beds.
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, wooden bunk bed with three levels of slanted bunks, and the back-side slightly higher than the front. The bunks are spaced approximately 27 inches apart, with the lowest bunk approximately nine inches from the ground. The bed frame consists of six wooden legs, one at each corner, and one in the center of each long side. Horizontal boards attach to the posts, creating an outer frame for each bunk. The long sides are nailed to the legs, and the short sides are peg and dowelled. Small, wooden support studs are nailed on the front and back of each leg, just below the bunk frame boards. The frame boards have narrow, wooden braces nailed along their interior bottom edges, which support four trusses that are mounted on a vertical beam which is peg and doweled into the center legs. The trusses hold approximately 20 slats that make up the surface of each bunk. Some of the bed slats have old nails protruding from the surface, the ends of the bed frame boards are cracking and splintered from age. On the exterior of the top right bunk frame is carved a small pentagon with a cross at the top and text inside.
    overall: Height: 74.000 inches (187.96 cm) | Width: 112.250 inches (285.115 cm) | Depth: 74.000 inches (187.96 cm)
    overall : wood, metal
    middle bunk level, center support beam, left side, carved : KEDY XXIV
    top bunk level, right side frame board exterior, carved : Nigdy tego wiecej / A. Smolanski /
    Lödz / Lipiec 1984 / Kochane Dzieci [Never again / A Smolarski / Lodz / July 1984 / Beloved Children]
    top bunk level, right side frame board, exterior, carved : Росто́в-на / 19.VIII.1965 [Rostov-na-Dan / August 19, 1965]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Oswiecim (Poland)

    Administrative Notes

    The bunk bed was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 by The State Museum Auschwitz - Birkenau in Oswieeim.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-14 07:08:02
    This page:

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