What was life like in an average nazi concentration camp?

Life in Concentration Camps

Upon arrival, all the inmates had to undergo a 'selection' procedure which identified their group. Healthy and strong men formed one group, while women, children and elderly were put into another. This horrendous practice torn the families apart, as the soldiers particularly aimed at separating the people of the same family. People would be then stripped off their valuables and an identification number would be tattooed on their forearms. This snatched away the identity of the victims and left them as nothing more than a mere inmate, at the mercy of German soldiers.

These groups would be then sent to their respective barracks, which hardly offered conditions worth living. They were made to sleep on the bunkers with straw mattresses which were often infested with lice and other rodents. The day for the inmates, would normally begin at the crack of dawn. They would be made to stand up for hours together, for their roll calls. When the roll call was finally over, they were served a breakfast of a slice of bread, ground-up acorns and water. The midday meal consisted of a soup of potato peels and beet, while the dinner was just another slice of bread. People resorted to eating grass and roots in order to survive.

The group of healthy and strong individuals was made to do hard, laborious job throughout the day. They were beaten inhumanly if they failed to perform their daily tasks or made an error. The treatment to the inmates varied depending upon the purpose for which the camp was set up. However, none of the concentration camps believed in giving humane treatment to the inmates, the torture was more or less similar in all the camps. In extermination camps like Auschwitz, people were killed in gas chambers or bullets were fired through their body. The dead would be given an unceremonious farewell by burying them in a large gravel or dumping them in trucks and transporting them to crematoria.

Concentration camps during the holocaust, dehumanized the inmates in every possible way. If they escaped the gas chamber, there was always a bullet waiting to be drilled through their body. If not, death would still be lurking around the corners of the shady barracks in the form of some disease. Starvation and physical exertion would kill most of the people in the concentration camps, even before they were 'picked' for the mass extermination.


Note that the only camps that carried out routine selections on arrival were Auschwitz and Majdanek as they were the only ones that combined the functions of a concentration camp and extermination camp.