THE PRISONER'S -
SELF ADMINISTRATION


 

The inner structure of a German concentration camp was always built up on the self administration of the prisoners.

At the top stood the "Lagerältester" (camp senior), who was nominated by the SS. Due to the size of the camp and its many subcamps, there always were more Lagerälteste whose task was to be the responsible camp representative facing the SS. He was the one, the SS talked to whenever it wanted to order anything.


Each block - living barracks - was presided ever by a "Blockältester (block senior), each "Stube" (living room) by a "Stubenbältester".

Basically, all prisoners had to work. They were put together in prisoners' commandos which wer led by "Capos", also called Bindenträger waren selbst von der Arbeit befreit. ("Sling holder"). In big commandos, sometimes two capos - an "Obercapo" ("Upper capo") and an "Untercapo" ("Lower capo") could be distinguished. These "sling holders" were exempted from work. They were responsible for the work-rate and "snappy" marches of the labourers.

Preferably, German prisoners were used for such positions.