An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

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Aaron Richards
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An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Aaron Richards » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:08 am

So browsing through youtube comments in the talented "cbutchko" 's video on Auschwitz-Birkenau, I came across the following one:

I just love all your videos, they are very informative. I have a question I can't seem to find an answer too. The men prisoners in any of the camps how where they all clean shaven? I would think that with a razor in hand most would commit suicide. I have never seen the mass of men with any beards. Many thanks and god bless you for making all of the world see history live.

...and truth be told it did catch me unprepared. We've seen many liberation photos but I don't seem to recall many mustaches and beards on the survivors. Mentally I tried to compare this to the photos from the various ghettos or of the umschlagplatz where there were plenty of elderly men with beards, but of course we know what happened to the overwhelming majority of old people. So while that might be one possible explanation, I think younger Jews did grow beards at the time as well.

Of course we're all familiar with the fact that everyone had their hair shorn *everywhere* once they became part of the camp, but is there any literature on daily/weekly shower/shave routines the laborers were forced to periodically undergo?

There is, of course, the explanation that the photographed survivors are all recent arrivals as life expectancy tended to be horribly short at such camps, although I think that's a poor attempt at trying to answer the question. Any info appreciated.

P.S: While I dismiss the notion of mass suicides as proposed by the OP, I am aware there was a black market among the complex inmate hierarchy of Auschwitz-Birkenau and many other concentration camps. Many items were traded from extra rations to soap and clothing. If prisoners could shave regularly, how were the razors kept from going "missing"?
Last edited by Aaron Richards on Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:35 am

Wow, I have no idea. I guess I never thought of it.
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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Gord » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:58 am

That's weird, I can't think of any photos of clean-shaven prisoners. They've usually got minor beard growth.

Three ways to be clean-shaven come immediately to mind for me, though: Shave yourself with something sharp (not necessarily a razor), have a camp barber, or be so malnourished that your beard can't grow properly or falls out if it does.
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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Sergey_Romanov » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:25 am

When it's about everyday life in Auschwitz, then it's a good bet Langbein has the answer.

Tldr: they were shaved by a barber. They were also forbidden to possess shaving kits (obvi).

One could also logically make such a conclusion if you remember about their obsession with gathering the inmates' hair. This implies centralized hair-cutting and thus, plausibly, also shaving.

Now, there's still a question of being *clean-shaven*, which visiting the barber once a week couldn't guarantee. But who has done a photo research of the inmates' face hair growth?

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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Hans » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:23 pm

The Auschwitz trial DVD includes the examination of a Block and later camp barber, Nathan Jakubowitz:

"Und da war ich Blockfriseur...Und ich bin da zwei Jahre gewesen, also ich habe da lange gearbeitet...Und dann bin ich Lagerfriseur geworden...Die Häftlinge, wie viele waren das da, in Auschwitz? 20.000, 15.000, nicht wahr, ich habe Kommando gehabt. Und da habe ich diese, nur die Häftlinge, bedienen müssen. Also jeden Samstag, Sonntag mußte ich mit meinen – ich habe 40 Friseure gehabt um die Blocks herum oder 30, ich kann mich nicht mehr erinnern, und die haben da gearbeitet, rasiert und Haare geschnitten...Ich hatte nur zu sorgen für Sauberkeit wegen des Haareschneidens und Rasierens, und es sollte kein Ungeziefer auf den Häftlingen sein...Ich komme herein in Block 24, da steht Kaduk. Und ich stelle mich gleich hin. Sage ich: »Nummer 64.000 soundso viel meldet sich zur Stelle, Herr Rapportführer.« »Bist Jude?« »Jawohl.« »Komm, du wirst mich rasieren!« »Gut.« Und nimmt die Pistole heraus und legt sie auf den Tisch. »Du verdammter Jude«, sagt er, »wenn du mir nur ein klein bißchen wo einen Schnitt gibst, wenn ich Blut sehe, da kriegst du von mir einen Genickschuß.« Na, das war seine Spezialität. Und ich habe mich verabschiedet. Ich wollte noch leben bleiben, ich war schon 44. Ich habe mich von meiner Familie verabschiedet, also innerlich, Herr Präsident, und von allen. Ich habe eine Tasche gehabt mit verschiedenen Rasiermessern. Und ich habe [+ mir] gesagt, jetzt ist mein Ende, weil ich war zu nervös, aufgeregt. Da habe ich so ein breites Messer rausgenommen, und ich habe angefangen zu rasieren – ich muß lachen jetzt dabei, weil ich hier sitze. Warum habe ich ein breites Messer genommen? Ich habe mir gesagt: Wenn ich sehe, daß Kaduk Blut auf der Backe hat oder an der Kehle, da schneide ich ihm selbst die ganze Kehle durch. Das war mir ganz egal, ich war [sowieso] tot. Und ich habe schon auf die Pistole geguckt, mir einen Genickschuß zu geben. Ich wußte doch, ich wäre [sowieso] tot. Vielleicht wäre es besser gewesen, ich wäre damals der Held geblieben, und es wären Tausende Menschen, Häftlinge, Freunde, noch leben geblieben. Also der liebe Gott hat das so gewollt, und ich habe Kaduk wunderbar rasiert. Und ich bin noch dem Tode entrissen, also befreit worden."

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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Balmoral95 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:27 pm

Sergey_Romanov wrote:But who has done a photo research of the inmates' face hair growth?

BRoI :mrgreen:

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Re: An Auschwitz question you might not have expected

Postby Balsamo » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:57 pm


Hygiene was highly important at Auschwitz and rules in this regards were strict, ironic given the scarcity of the installation.
Now, given that i lost my hole file, i still have to rely on my memory. But if my memory is correct, each Barracks had an inmate in charge of cutting hair and shaving the others. This specific inmate, a "Friseur" (barber in German) was part of the Blockälteste" (Barrack Kapo) staff, one among the others "Stubendienste".
It was part of the routine.

Just saw Hans gave a quote about a Blockfriseur who became lagerfriseur...Sorry for the duplication.
Blockfriseur is what i was talking about.

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