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Standing cell

standing cell auschwitz, standing cell
A standing cell is a special cell constructed so as to prevent the prisoner from doing anything but stand The Stehbunker was used in Nazi concentration camps during the Third Reich as a punishment[1] Standing cells called kishkas were also used during Joseph Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union[2] Some standing cells were large enough for only one person, others held as many as four people


  • 1 Ottoman Empire
  • 2 Oranienburg
  • 3 Dachau
  • 4 Auschwitz
  • 5 Stalin's Soviet Union
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 Notes
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Ottoman Empire

The Armenian hosiery-manufacturer and musician Samuel Hovannes Zorian was arrested in 1895 by Ottoman authorities for being a political activist He was beaten and incarcerated in a so-called "police room", measuring barely two feet square in size and with no windows On the second day, he was dragged out and beaten almost senseless with sticks Zorian was then sent back to the "police room" where he was confined for a further week and was only sustained on a diet of bread and water, with no medical attention given to him during that period[3]


SA camp kommandant Werner Schäfer had two cells built in the basement of the Oranienburg concentration camp in 1933 The dimensions of the cell were such that a person could only stand A prisoner surnamed Neumann was held there for 192 hours and was allegedly driven mad as a result of his confinement At times, prisoners were held in small coffin-sized closets in which they could only stand


The number of prisoners in Dachau concentration camp increased dramatically in the last years of the Second World War The concentration camp was overcrowded In late 1944, the camp command erected standing cells The stone chambers were similar to chimneys and measured 75 x 80 cm 295 x 315 inches[note 1] There was a small hatch on top for air, and a narrow door with an iron bar bolted to the cell The intensified punitive measure saved room and reinforced the punitive agony There were also standing cells at the Allach subcamp, where the cells were smaller than at Dachau Some at other camps were bigger, about 90 x 90 cm 355 x 355 inches[4]

For example, the prisoner K A Gross and the Polish prisoner Max Hoffmann spent days in the standing cell Hoffmann described it thus:

It was a terrible state, as I thought that it was over for me, everything was so callous and distant for me I couldn't lie down, couldn't crouch, the best was to stand, stand, six days and six nights long You touch the walls on both sides with your elbows, your back touches the wall behind you, your knees the wall in front of you This is no punishment or pre-trial detention, it is torture, straight forward, Middle Ages torture I had bloodshot eyes, numb from bad air, I was just waiting for the end[5]

According to Johannes Neuhäusler [de], an inmate in the standing cell received a single piece of bread in three days[note 2] On the fourth day, the prisoner was removed from the standing cell, given a normal camp meal ration and allowed to sleep on a wooden cot On the next day, the three-day confinement in the standing cell began anew

The SS did not always adhere to the interruption after the third day A Czech prisoner, Radovan Drazan, spent eight days without a break in a standing cell[6] Sometimes, prisoners were not even allowed a brief break from the cell, so that they had burns on their bodies from feces and urine[citation needed]


There were four standing cells at Auschwitz in the basement of Block 11, which measured about 1 square yard 084 m2, and in which four persons were crammed, able only to stand There was only a 2 inches 51 cm opening for air, so that prisoners would not suffocate[7] Punishment in these cells was usually imposed for a period of 10 days[7] Auschwitz survivor Josef Kral testified at the Auschwitz Trials about the standing cells where he had been held for six weeks with three meals during that time, and about how one prisoner was so hungry, he ate his shoes[8][9] Commander Rudolf Höss, the camp commander, stated that punishment in the standing cells was limited to three nights, but this was disputed by prisoners[7] Artur Liebehenschel, Höss' successor at Auschwitz in 1943, removed the standing cells[10]

Stalin's Soviet Union

According to Aleksandr Mikhailovich Orlov, standing cells were used as part of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s After two days in a standing cell, a Secretary of the Tatar Provincial Committee was removed in an unconscious state[2]

See also

  • Kishka prison cell


  • Stanislav Zámečník, Das war Dachau Comité International de Dachau, Luxemburg 2002 pp 348-350 in German


  1. ^ The surfaces were measured after camps had been liberated, using foundation ruins
  2. ^ Neuhäusler refers here to two clergymen, Theissig from Aachen, and Johann Lenz


  1. ^ Walter Laqueur; Judith Tydor Baumel 29 March 2001 The Holocaust Encyclopedia Yale University Press p 41 ISBN 978-0-300-08432-0 Retrieved 30 June 2012mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink
  2. ^ a b Robert Conquest 15 November 2007 The Great Terror: A Reassessment Oxford University Press p 278 ISBN 978-0-19-531699-5 Retrieved 1 July 2012
  3. ^ George, Joan Merchants in Exile: The Armenians in Manchester, England, 1835–1935 Taderon Press p 98 ISBN 978-1903656082 Retrieved 30 July 2016
  4. ^ Glossary entry for Stehbunker Wollheim Memorial, official website Retrieved June 6, 2010
  5. ^ Karel Kasak, Cesi v koncentracnim tabore Dachau in Almanch Dachau Kytice udalosti a vzpominek, Prague, 1946 Cited in Zámečník, Das war Dachau, p 349
  6. ^ Zuzana Mosnáková, "Tschechische Häftlinge im Konzentrationslager Dachau" German Jewish website Retrieved June 6, 2010 in German
  7. ^ a b c Leni Yahil 17 October 1991 The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945 Oxford University Press pp 373–4 ISBN 978-0-19-504523-9 Retrieved 30 June 2012
  8. ^ Rebecca Wittmann 2005 Beyond Justice: The Auschwitz Trial Harvard University Press p 155 ISBN 978-0-674-01694-1 Retrieved 30 June 2012
  9. ^ Audio clip of Kral testimony excerpt with photos and prisoner drawings Youtube video Kral's testimony, with German simultaneous interpreter Retrieved June 6, 2010 in German
  10. ^ David Bankier; Dan Mikhman 2008 Holocaust Historiography in Context: Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements Berghahn Books p 560 ISBN 978-965-308-326-4 Retrieved 30 June 2012

External links

  • me life as a prisoner vent of a standing cell at Auschwitz Retrieved June 6, 2010 in German
  • Photo of standing cell at Mittelbau-Dora Memorial Site Retrieved June 6, 2010 in German
  • "Interrogation in Block 11" Prisoner drawing of men in the prison block at Auschwitz Note: Click on drawing to toggle to a recent photo of the same site Retrieved June 6, 2010

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