This greyscale image depicts a single wooden POW barrack in Sector BI of (Segment BI) in Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp at Ofiar Faszyzmu 12, 32-600 Brzezinka, Poland.
Wooden stable-type barracks were installed in segment BI and, above all, in segments BII and BIII.
These barracks had no windows. Instead, there was a row of skylights on either side at the top. A chimney duct, which heated the interior in the winter, ran almost the entire length of the barracks.
The interior was divided into 18 stalls, intended originally for 52 horses. The two stalls nearest the door were reserved for prisoner functionaries, and containers for excrement stood in the two stalls at the far end.
Three-tier wooden beds or three-tier wooden bunks intended for 15 prisoners to sleep in were installed in the other stalls for a total capacity of more than 400 prisoners per barracks.
The number of prisoners that the barracks were supposed to hold should be treated as only a starting point since the actual number was often much higher. It varied according to the size and number of transports arriving at any given time.
During the first year or so, water in sector BI was available only in the kitchen barracks, and prisoners had no access to it. Unable to wash, they went around dirty. They had to perform their bodily functions in unscreened outside privies.
The barracks were frequently damp, and lice and rats were an enormous problem for the prisoners. It is, therefore, hardly strange that epidemics of contagious diseases erupted often.
Sanitary conditions improved to a certain degree in 1943 when each part of the camp was outfitted with a bathhouse and equipment for disinfecting clothing and linen. Nevertheless, the capacity of these facilities in proportion to the number of prisoners limited the possibilities for using them.
In sector BI, for instance, there were four barracks with sinks for washing (90 spigots per barrack), four toilet barracks (a sewer with a concrete lid that had 58 toilet openings in it), and two barracks containing toilets and sink—for a sector containing 62 barracks housing prisoners. The prisoners also had limited opportunities for bathing.
Additionally, they had to undress in their own barracks before doing so and walk naked to the bathhouse regardless of the weather. For many prisoners, this led to sickness and death.
Image size: 4500×2532
File size: 2.0MB
Bit: 24 bit
Property/model release: No
Edited: Yes. Adobe Lightroom CC
Location: Auschwitz II, Poland
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson