Female concentration camp inmates

EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT

Flossenbürg

“Two women in uniform wearing small hats together with a group of about twenty wretched figures shrouded in striped concentration camp rags, mere shadows of their former selves, approached us. The monotonous clattering of their wooden clogs was the only way we could tell they were not ghosts.”

… “Some of these shadowy creatures wore small scarves around their heads from which their unnaturally large and sad eyes stared vacantly. The scarves were the only way we could tell they these prisoners were women. We could see that the heads of those without scarves were shaved and bald like us. Clad in their miserable overalls we could hardly tell if they were male or female. This was the first time we had been in close proximity to female concentration camp prisoners and women guards. We were not able to linger and study them more closely because we had to push our carts into a factory hall which had a glazed roof. As the doors of the hall opened we stared bewildered at the sight that greeted us: a vast mass of twitching concentration camp rags, the entire floor covered with female bodies shrouded in threadbare rags, a sea of work-weary bodies from which their bare shaven heads bobbed up. Sunken faces stared at us, faces distinguished only by the pale tip of their noses and hollow eyes. We looked into their eyes and could not look away, their staring eyes held us spellbound and transfixed. At first glance we could not tell if they were men or women, young or old. Their sunken faces were lifeless, but their fearful, wandering eyes tracked our every movement.”

… “Horrified, we stared at these sick bodies covered in excrement, and a growing feeling of nausea welled up in us and became worse when our eyes moved to the floor in the middle of the hall where there was a hollow. Here, those who had been eliminated were heaped up together with the bodies of unconscious women as they lay dying and mostly half-exposed, their naked female body parts filthy and besmirched. At this moment we were gripped by indescribable horror. We stood there, numbed, unable to comprehend the scene that confronted us, unable to recognise in this heap of misery any of our relatives or friends.”

Flossenbürg

View through the barbed wire, of the prisoner barracks in the Flossenbürg concentration camp Flossenbürg, Germany 1942 [Bildarchiv Preussisch]

BrutalityFlossenbürg campIllnessPsychology
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