Daily Life in a Concentration Camp

Joshua Snider- 1st period


Life in the concentration camps was grim, and often times fatal. Prisoners had to go through unimaginable terrors from the second they got to the camps to the moment they either died or got liberated. They were dehumanized in their fight to survive against the Nazis.
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Survivors at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp are in their barracks after liberation by Allies on April 16, 1945.

Life of the Prisoners

The largest percent of prisoners were Jews, but others were arrested and incarcerated for different reasons including their political affiliations or ethnicity. Nazis established an identification system in which prisoners were organized based on the reason they were there and what nationality they were. In the camps, there were prisoner-supervisors called kapos, who would either treat their inmate brethren well or be harsh to the other inmates. The appel was a daily lineup that occurred after the inmates returned from labor and when they woke up in the morning. The prisoners had to stand completely still for hours at a time while being exposed to weather like snow, rain, and the cold. Standing in the appels, they were also subject to violence by kapos or guards. The prisoners had a routine that they had to follow strictly everyday to avoid being punished. Despite the very harsh conditions, most people hung on to their religion and practiced it often, even though the risk of being caught was high. Concentration camps had a lot of human subjects to do experiments on. They held low-pressure experiments to see how high pilots could fly. They tried to find ways to treat wounds obtained on the battlefield by giving prisoners these same wounds by rubbing ground glass, dirt, and rusty nails into them, and using different methods to treat the wounds. They also did experiments with sterilization, high-altitude, and freezing.


"Daily Life in the Concentration Camps." USHMM. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

"The World of the Camps Daily Life in the Camps." Yad Vashem. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

Stewart, Sheila. Never Again: Survivors of the Holocaust. Broomall, PA: Mason Crest, 2009. Print. Survivors: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Circumstances.

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Prisoners lined up and standing for the appel.

Other Facts to Know

1. The first concentration camp was Dachau. It was established in March 1933 by the Nazi government.

2. About six million Jews died during the Holocaust. They were intentionally killed by the Nazis in hopes of wiping out the entire Jewish population of Europe. Around eleven million people died in all.

3. Concentration camp inmates had to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning to eat their breakfast and get to the appel.

4. The average male should have between 3,600 and 4,800 calories a day to stay healthy. Prisoners in concentration camps only had from about 1,302 to 1,744 calories. Since they were working hard all day, they were burning up a lot of their own tissue and often dying.

5. Even after the Allied armies liberated the concentration camps, the newly free people were still dying because they were too weak to survive.

6. Executions were common in the camps. Prisoners were executed by being shot, by being gassed, and by being hanged. These were ways to kill masses of inmates at once and to intimidate those who watched.


"Dachau." USHMM. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

Nordling, Carl O. "INSTITUTE FOR HISTORICAL REVIEW." How Many Jews Died in the German Concentration Camps? Fall 1991. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

"Just a Normal Day in the Camps." Just a Normal Day in the Camps. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

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Emaciated survivors of the Ebensee concentration camps, entered by the 80th division, U.S. Third army on May 7, 1945.
Yosef Neuhaus: Arrival and Daily Life in Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Holocaust


Life for those unfortunate enough to end up in the concentration camps was terrible. Millions of people were killed by the Nazis. We honor those who died by remembering them and what they endured.

Links to Further Information

http://www.theholocaustexplained.org/ks3/the-camps/daily-life/processing-and-routines/#.VrfzlbIrKUk : This website is a part of The Holocaust Explained, a website that analyzes the holocaust and explains what happened. The article talks about dehumanization and the daily routines of the concentration camps. The page has several different photos that you can view.

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/Majdanek%20Daily%20life/majdanekdailylife.html : The website is about the Majdanek concentration camp. It includes all the information about the lives of the people who were there and what happened to them. It has lots of pictures and it tells of the food the people ate, the clothes they wore, and the work they had to do.