If anyone knows anything about the concentration camps, you can imagine it would be a long hard struggle just to get through one day. But no matter what the Jews and other prisoners had to go through, “Prisoners strove to keep their Jewish identity” (Hazikaron, www. yadvashem. org). The Jews went through hardships every day. “Jewish prisoners in the camp during the holocaust suffered forced labor, starvation rations and the horrific daily lineups” (Hazikaron, www. yadvashem. org).
“Prisoners were resourceful and heroic and strove to maintain their humanity” ( Hazikaron, www. advashem. org). Prisoners were dehumanized as soon as they walked through the gates and we treated like animals until they died. “So many crazed men, so many cries, so much bestial brutality” (Wiesel, 43). Prisoners have described their days and daily routines so everyone can truly understand how bad the days and nights are. “You are awakened by the Kapo barking at you saying ‘Hurry up’ (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org) “You must raise and find your shoes, but maybe someone took them, (which often means death, because you can’t work” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). You must find your mess-tin in hand.
No mess-tin, No food” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org) Prisoners were punished and tortured daily. They were treated inhumane and cruel. “We were naked, our shoes and belts in our hands” (Wiesel, 45). “As we passed, trousers, tunic shirt and socks were thrown at us. ” (Wiesel, 45). What most prisoners dreaded most was, Roll call. “Daily lineup that took place every morning after wakeup and each evening after returning from labor was one horrific aspect of the prisoner’s lives” (Hazikaron, www. yadvashem. org). “All the prisoners get in lines of ten.
All prisoners must be at the roll call including ones that died that night” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). And not only did you have to line up every morning for hours at times, if the Kapos messed up roll call, they started all over. They have roll call in the morning and in the evening. “Evening roll call is over. You run in order to receive your dinner: a kind of “soup” just like the one you received at noon” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). The food the camp provided wasn’t necessarily what you would call food. “Meager daily meal, usually consisting of a watery vegetable soup and a half piece of bread” (Hazikaron, www. advashem. org).
“The bread is the only solid food you will receive until tomorrow” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). In the morning you get a meager breakfast. The kapos didn’t care that it is the most important meals of the day. “Kapo will give about ten oz. of bread and some ‘coffee’” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). “The coffee is tasteless. No sugar and no milk, of course” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). “Meals provide were insufficient for working at hard labor” (Hazikaron, www. yadvashem. org). “After Dinner return to bed. There is one blanket, with 5 in a bed” (Chatel, www. ewishgen. org).
You sleep for only a few hours. “Toward five o’clock in the morning we were driven out of the barracks” (Wiesel, 45). As soon as you get up, get your shoes on and head to morning work. “After work it’s time for washing. There are only a few sanitary stations for hundreds of prisoners” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). After you get done washing, “It is nearly time for morning roll call” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). As you head to morning roll you hurry because “you know the kapos will beat stragglers, sometimes to death” (Chatel www. jewishgen. org).
Sometimes it seems that roll call will never end and the time slowly creeps by. “During roll call, you must stand at attention even if it’s raining or snowing. It is forbidden to move or talk during roll call” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). The clothes they threw at you were small pieces of cloth that was not capable of keeping you out of the extreme weather. “Exposed to element of cold, rain, or snow and to the terror of sudden violence by the S. S, guards, or kapos” “Every day prisoners catch cold during roll call and die in the following days.
Some die during roll call itself” (Chatel, www. ewishgen. org). “Everyone had put on several garments one on top of the other in order to keep out of the cold” (Wiesel, 89). Many of the prisoners would take the clothes off of dead bodies to try and stay warm. The sleeping conditions were not desirable or comfortable in any way. You couldn’t even really consider them as shelters. “There was no floor, A roof and four walls. Our feet sank into the mud” (Wiesel, 46). “The barrack was not heated” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org).
People were crammed into a bunk and never got enough rest for their labor and hard work each day. If a prisoner wants to turn over in bed, all the others have to follow” (Chatel, www. jewishgen. org). “Despite the terrible conditions, cultural and religious activity continued in Ghettos, labor camps, and even in the concentration camps” (Hazikaron, www. yadvashem. org). “Living conditions were harsh and extreme, but varied greatly from camp to camp and also changed over time” (www. ushmm. org). The prisoners presented true bravery, just making it through each day. Many lived day to day just striving to stay alive, in hopeless wonder if they will make it to the unexpected liberation in 1945 when all the camps were set free.