Read Report by Benedikt Kautsky on the prisoners' leisure time in the Buchenwald concentration camp, published 1946 text version

Report by Benedikt Kautsky on the prisoners' leisure time in the Buchenwald concentration camp, published 1946

A substantial part of leisure time in Buchenwald was played by the radio. In all the huts loudspeakers were installed , serving mainly the relaying of the orders of the camp leadership to the office, the senior block prisoners, the barracks, etc., but which were also occasionally connected to the official German transmitters. Thus we heard the news almost every day and on free Sunday afternoons the radio was switched on continually; stopping the radio was regarded and imposed as a bitter punishment. Important speeches, Reichstag sittings, etc., had to be listened to by us. Thus I heard nearly all Hitler's speeches. [...] Such a Sunday afternoon with the permanently switched on Radio, however, could also become a pain - in a crowded block, where more than 100 men were sweating, where cooking went on on the stove, where people were continually walking in and out, where food was handed out and consumed, where various administrative tasks had to be performed - issue and collection of personal linen, compilation of the most varied lists - and where, last not least, people were playing, singing or reading. It took strong nerves to concentrate on chess or on your book. Nevertheless entire chess tournaments were held and a large number of books read. I will have to devote a whole paragraph to the Buchenwald library, even though I am convinced that to many prisoners it meant not nearly as much as to myself. The running of the library was entirely in the hands of the prisoners - the SDS scarcely bothered about the choice of the books to be acquired. The political prisoners, who were in charge of the library, made sure of acquiring good material when they chose the books. When the camp command only made small funds available, they had the excellent idea of requesting the camp command to permit the prisoners to donate money or books for library purposes. Now the prisoners themselves could order the books they wanted.

Original document source: Benedikt Kautsky, Teufel und Verdammte: Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse aus sieben Jahren in deutschen Konzentrationslagern (Zurich: Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1946), 219-23

English translation and copyright by Ewald Osers

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Report by Benedikt Kautsky on the prisoners' leisure time in the Buchenwald concentration camp, published 1946

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Report by Benedikt Kautsky on the prisoners' leisure time in the Buchenwald concentration camp, published 1946