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The Bunker

In the bunker courtyard prisoners were executed by the SS; both the whipping and the so-called "pole hanging" were also carried out there.

 

"I was now locked up in a dark cell for 14 days. It was horrible to be in complete darkness all alone. I starved for three days before on the fourth day I was given something to eat. I never knew the time, sometimes I almost went mad. To pass the time I told myself the story of my own life, I remembered my arrest, as I was denounced by my violin player; otherwise I softly sang all kinds of opera and operetta melodies, then popular hits, and I invented new melodies. And I constantly spoke, counted my steps (sitting was not permitted) from 10 to 5,000. Often I shook my head in sheer disbelief and asked myself whether I was still in my right mind."

 

Josef Ulc, a Czech musician, was arrested as a political opponent of the Nazis in 1939 and first deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and from there to Dachau. For allegedly planning to escape, he was punished with 50 strokes and 14 days in the dark cell. The above lines are an account of his imprisonment in the bunker.

 

The bunker, the prison in the concentration camp and thus the prison within the prison, had many functions. Above all, it was a central site of terror: imprisonment in the bunker, often for weeks at a time and without sufficient food, was one of the penalties which could be imposed on the prisoners. During this imprisonment the prisoners were especially exposed to the arbitrary tyranny and brutality of the SS. Many saw suicide as their last resort.

 

The Secret State Police (Gestapo) conducted interrogations in the bunker, during which the prisoners were tortured in order to force confessions. The interrogation room in the bunker was fitted with hollow walls and double doors; these were supposed to prevent the screams of the tortured from being heard outside.

 

In 1944 the SS had twelve so-called standing cells built. These had a surface area of approximately. 70x70 cm, and the prisoners could neither sit nor lie down. The lack of air and light additionally intensified the imprisonment in these cells.

 

Prominent special prisoners were held in a separate section of the camp prison from 1941 onwards, where they had better living conditions and were not forced to work. These prisoners were well-known domestic and foreign opponents of the regime, priests, members of the military and others. These included Gabriel Piquet, the archbishop of Clermont-Ferrand, pastor Martin Niemöller, and Georg Elser, who had attempted to assassinate Hitler.

 

Georg Elser was murdered by the SS on April 9, 1945 in the crematorium.

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