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Housing

During the first few years of the camp, the prisoners had to sleep on the crowded floors of the two-block wooden huts. In 1941, the huts were fitted with three-tier bunk beds, lockers, tables and benches. Over 300 prisoners, and sometimes even more than 600 prisoners, were usually crammed into each 50-metre by 8-metre block. The two stone buildings erected in 1943/44 contained four blocks each, in which 500 to 700 prisoners were housed. The “convalescence blocks” held even more prisoners.

From 1944, two and sometimes even three prisoners had to share one bunk. This overcrowding made restful sleep impossible. The quarters reeked of sweat and faeces because of the insufficient sanitary facilities and because many prisoners suffered from diarrhoea. Prisoners had no privacy whatsoever, and the best bunks usually went to the strongest prisoners.

In 1940/41, there were only manual pumps in the blocks, and the sanitary facilities remained insufficient even after the construction of the sewer system in 1941. In the morning, hundreds of prisoners had to crowd around the 15 to 20 taps in the washrooms. It was not until the typhus epidemic of 1941/42 that prisoners began to be taken in groups to the newly constructed showers. Initially this occurred on a weekly basis, but the frequency decreased continually, and by 1944/45, prisoners were only taken to the showers on special occasions (after their arrival in the camp or before their transfer to another camp, for example). There were hardly any towels or soap. In the beginning, prisoners received a new set of underwear every two weeks, but later on this happened even more rarely. From 1942, the poison gas Zyklon B was used in the huts to exterminate vermin, but fleas and other pests were still abundant.

Watercolour by former Danish prisoner Jens Martin Sørensen entitled "Appelpladsen" ("Parade Ground"). The picture was painted in 1960 based on an older work. (Frøslevlejrens Museum, Padborg)
Drawing by Hans Peter Sørensen. This is the sixth drawing from his Neuengamme portfolio (1948).
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