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Prisoner bunk bed from Auschwitz concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2014.376.1

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.

Date
use:  1940 April-1945 January 27
Geography
use: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oświęcim (Poland)
Language
Polish
Russian
Classification
Furnishings and Furniture
Category
Furniture
Object Type
Bunk beds (lcsh)
Genre/Form
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: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn94891