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Night in Dachau

Life in the concentration camps was so harsh that most prisoners were driven to despair. In the following excerpt, a Jewish prisoner describes the presence of death that hung over the barracks at Dachau during the night.


It is eerie when at night one's sleep is disrupted and in the middle of the room, which is half-lit by the lights outside and by the circling of searchlights, a figure arises and, mentally confused by all he has experienced, begins in a monotonous voice to recite Kaddish, that prayer that all believing Jews say every year in memory of dead family members on the anniversary of their passing. Or when in the washroom a desperate person, who according to strict orders was not to be prevented by us from carrying out his intention, nor taken down by us after death had occurred, hanged himself. . . . Many a person to whom life here had become an unbearable burden made use of the prohibition [to leave the barracks] to put an end to himself by running out. . . . into the fire of the machine-gun towers.