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The Mustering Place

The open space where the camp prisoners faced roll call was entered through a small gate flanked on both sides with stone plaques inscribed with "Camp for Protective Custody" and "Freedom can be Won by Work". This cynical slogan had been introduced from Auschwitz when the camp director, Karl Fritzsch, was transferred from there.

This mustering place, or large storage area, measured 120 by 40 metres was located in the lowest area of the camp, directly in front of the commandant´s building. As if raised on a stage, this building showed the absolute power of the SS over the prisoners.

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After rising at 4 o’clock (in winter an hour later), washing, taking a meagre breakfast and facing the dreaded "bed-making", came the roll call at 5:15. Following the assignment of work there began at 6 o’clock a long, hard work day which included the march to and from work and a one hour lunch pause and lasted until 6:30 p.m. Then the roll call was repeated with the same meticulousness. It took some time until all the blocks were checked. The prisoners stood at attention, in wooden shoes or barefoot, in five columns, sometimes for hours on end, even when the ground was frozen or covered with snow. After this supper was served. That left little time until lights-out at 9 p.m.

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