Prisoner Baths

Station 6

Übersichtsplan

The baths were the last station of the admission procedure. This is where newly arrived prisoners had their heads shaved, were disinfected, showered and then sent to the barracks dressed in their prisoner clothing. Those already imprisoned came here once a week at the beginning - later less frequently - to "bathe," a procedure that according to the recollection of many survivors often involved harassment. At the same time though, many also tell of the relief at being able to finally wash themselves with a piece of soap or to feel briefly the luxury of warm water after the frequently long transports or weeks of imprisonment.

Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz gives the following graphic account of the prisoner baths: “We were showered off under single sprinklers attached to the wall. Our new clothes lay in bundles on a bench underneath the clothes stand. I was last. One last bundle remained, a shirt that just came over my bellybutton, a thin pair of underpants, socks whose heel only reached the middle of the sole, and the striped uniform! The pants ended a handbreadth above the ankle, and the smock only just barely buttoned up at the bottom. But it could not be buttoned across the chest, the sleeves were far too short, and were completely stretched at the elbows. I’d copped two different shoes, one fitted, the other was a torture chamber. The climax was the perfectly circular, striped, peakless cap; I could only wear it like a crown, it sat so high up, and spitefully it refused all attempts to forcefully stretch it. I realized that the word rags is usually used for this getup.”

From the end of 1940 onwards the punishment known as “pole hanging” was carried out in the prisoner baths. The SS inserted wooden beams between the interior pillars onto which hooks were attached every 40 to 50 centimeters. The prisoners had their hands tied behind their backs with a chain and were forced to stand on a footstool. The chain was mounted onto one of the hooks and an SS man kicked away the footstool.

This hanging was one of the most severe and dangerous punishments meted out in the concentration camp. If the prisoner survived the punishment, he often suffered long-lasting damage to wrists and shoulders.

Historisches Bild

Prisoner bath, unknown photographer after the liberation april/may 1945.
© KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

Heutige Ansicht

Picture of the former prisoner bath, 2008.

Detailansicht

Pole hanging, drawing by Georg Tauber.