All photographs copyright © Alan Jacobs.

The Penal Company - BIb

The barracks on your left is the penal company. Scrolling right you see its courtyard. The prisoners sent here always worked in the open air, always at the hardest tasks, often in water to the waist, and lived in an isolated BIb, Block No. 6, and in the BIId section in Birkenau. They worked in winter and in summer without socks, in Dutch clogs, and sparse clothing. Receiving food was at the whim of the block leader, perhaps yes, or no. More often than not they went sleepless because of the constant shouting and blows. They slept on the bare floor without even straw mattresses, leaving their rags in a prescribed order in the corridor. This Block was not heated. It is obvious that people in such conditions fell to illness in wholesale numbers. Until 1943 it was not permissible to take sick people from the penal company into the hospital. Deprived of medical assistance, the seriously ill were doomed to death in Block 6 . However the greatest percentage perished at the hands of the block leader. He would line up the prisoners by a wall, hit them in the jaw with his fist, or alongside the head, smashing their heads against the wall.