All photographs copyright
© Alan Jacobs.

Women's Barracks - BIb

Each tier was to have three straw mattresses, one for each prisoner. In reality, two or more slept on each mattress, 6 to 9 prisoners on each tier. "To sleep, to sit, and keep his belongings, each prisoner was now provided with 'private' space that amounted to the surface dimensions of a large coffin or the volume of a shallow grave."* Originally built for Soviet POW'S, these barracks were later to become part of the woman's camp. For example, Block 2 with 234 triple bunks and 702 mattresses; 1193 prisoners "lived" in it.

Survivor Charlotte Delbo wrote: "A brick has come loose from the low wall separating our cell from the next where other larvae sleep, moan and dream under the blankets that cover them - these are shrouds covering them for they are dead, today or tomorrow what does it matter... We feel that we teeter on the edge of a dark pit, a bottomless void-it is the hole of the night where we struggle furiously, struggle against another nightmare, that of our real death."**

* Deborah Dwork & Robert Jan van Pelt (1996). Auschwitz 1270 To The Present. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 265-6.

** Charlotte Delbo (1995). Auschwitz and After. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.