Glossary of the concentration system

Block (Barrack) : Inmate Housing Unit

Bunker: Prison in the main Camp precinct. The term may also refer to a bunker where detainees are crammed in case of alarm, or a shelter to protect military activities.

Häftling: A term used to describe a concentration camp prisoner.

I.K.L.: Inspection of Concentration Camps (Inspektion der Konzentrationslager). Established in 1938 in Oranienburg (near  Sachsenhausen camp), it became part of the WVHA in 1942.

Kapo : Prisoner (often chosen among the “common law” or  criminals) appointed by the SS to supervise a working group  or a service Kommando.

1) – Work team of a workshop, a construction site or a camp service.
2) – Satellite camp, subordinate to the main  camp but geographically distant from it.
KZ : Usual abbreviation for Konzentrationslager (concentration camp). The official abbreviation is KL.

Muslim : A nickname given to exhausted and sick deportees who have difficulty surviving.Kommando.

Revier : Camp Infirmary

RSHA : Reich Central Security Office. Abbreviation for Reichssicherheitshauptamt. The RSHA has an essential role in the concentration camp system: it is the organiser of  deportations and controls the political section of the SS administration of the camps. Led from September 1939 by Heydrich and then, in May 1942, by Kaltenbrünner, under Himmler’s control.

SS : Abbreviation for Schutzstaffel (protection level). It was originally Hitler’s personal protection guard under the command of Heinrich Himmler. It later developed into an organisation of considerable power, part of which (Totenkopfverband, the SS “Death’s Head units”) was in charge of guarding the concentration camps.

Stubendienst : prisoner, deputy to the barrack Chief, responsible for order and hygiene.

Vorarbeiter : Foreman

WVHA : Central Office for Administration and Economic Management of the SS. Abbreviation for Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt. Founded in 1942, it is headed by Oswald Pohl and based in Oranienburg. As part of the I.K.L., it is responsible for the management and economic operation of the concentration camps.



To fully understand the concentration system

Concentration Camp : Konzentrationslager

* Abbreviations: KL (official) KZ (usual).
* Dependent on the I.K.L., integrated in the WVHA.
* Prisoners are registered, usually in striped suits.

Auschwitz I, II (Birkenau) et III (Monowitz), Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Maidanek, Mauthausen, Natzweiler-Struthof, Neuengamme, Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Stutthof, Theresienstadt

Extermination camp : Vernichtungslager

* Placed under Gestapo control.

* Are not strictly speaking camps but “killing centres”, designed for the immediate killing of the new arrivals, in a quasi-industrial way.

* Centres for the application of the “Final Solution”

Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka The killing centres of Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Maidanek are integrated into concentration camps and are partly dependent on the WVHA.