Block 42 at Bergen-Belsen KZ/Gedenkstätte


Built from October 1941 as part of the Soviet POW Camp in Stalag XI C/311.

Until November 1944 this block was used as a recycling workshop where shoes, from all over occupied Europe, were salvage for their leather by the Schuhkommando provided by prisoners in the Sternlager (Star Camp).

Following the storm of 7 November 1944, coupled with the increasing number of prisoners evactuated to Bergen-Belsen from concentration camps near the front line and the lack of adequate buildings in the Womens Tented Camp, Block 42 became part of the Kleine Frauenlager (Small Women's Camp).

'Altogether, about 600 men and women work in the "shoes". The work itself isn't heavy. But, just having to sit, hungry and cold, for almost 12 hours on a little stool (without a back rest), bent over dirty, dusty shoes seems interminably long. Our throats get dry, our eyes burn, and I always have a sharp pain between my shoulder blades. Yet beyond the pain of sitting for days on end, and the pain of the degrading, senseless slave labour, the deafening hours of mental starvation, where the talk centers solely on fantastic menus and dreams of mountains of food, nothing but dust, boredom and hunger exist here'..Renata Laqueur, 22 April 1944

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