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Medical registration card

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Rotes Kreuz in der MittePo, BSV, AsoHäftlingsnummerFeld KrankheitRIVFeld VerordnungKL/2 Musternummer Rückseite

This document is a medical registration card. Most of the medical registration cards in the ITS archive come from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. These are all structured in the same way, but they can be printed on differently colored paper. Small differences are apparent when the cards are compared. For example, some cards have information about prisoners being transferred to other camps. Some cards are so detailed that there is even writing on the back, while others note only a medical treatment or the prisoner’s death.

This document is a medical registration card. Most of the medical registration cards in the ITS archive come from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. These are all structured in the same way, but they can be printed on differently colored paper. Small differences are apparent when the cards are compared. For example, some cards have information about prisoners being transferred to other camps. Some cards are so detailed that there is even writing on the back, while others note only a medical treatment or the prisoner’s death.

Background information on concentration camp documents

Further examples

Questions and answers

  • Where was the document used and who created it?

    Most of the medical registration cards preserved in the ITS archive come from Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Gross-Rosen concentration camp was located near Breslau (today Wrocław in Poland), and it existed from the summer of 1940 until the camp was cleared in February 1945. It was initially a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen, in which prisoners were forced to work for the SS-owned Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke company. Later on, more and more political prisoners were sent directly to the camp by the Gestapo in Breslau and Reichenberg. From May 1941, Gross-Rosen was expanded to become an independent concentration camp with around 100 subcamps. It started out as a small camp with around 700 to 1,200 prisoners in 1941. But the prisoner numbers rose dramatically from the spring of 1944, primarily on account of the many evacuation transports from camps further east. In January 1945, nearly 78,000 people were imprisoned in Gross-Rosen. In the four and a half years of the camp’s existence, more than 40,000 of the total 120,000 prisoners died as a result of the catastrophic living and working conditions.

    In the sick bay of Gross-Rosen, medical registration cards – officially referred to as medical registration file cards (Krankheitskarteikarten) by the SS Chief Economic and Administration office – were used to record the details of prisoners who had been admitted to the clinic. It is likely that multiple prisoner clerks updated the medical registration cards in the registry office of the sick bay. The cards would be printed on green, light brown, gray or orange paper depending on what was currently available; the card color has no bearing on the information on the cards.

  • When was the document used?

    The earliest medical registration cards used in the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and now found in the ITS archive were printed in 1942 by the Wilhelm Möller printing company in Oranienburg. Later on, the cards were printed in the Auschwitz camp printing office. These later cards can be identified by the abbreviation KL/2 at the lower left edge. The information about the sick prisoners was recorded between 1943 and 1945.

  • What was the document used for?

    The living and working conditions in the Gross-Rosen concentration camp were very difficult, because many of the malnourished prisoners had to work 12-hour shifts in the nearby quarry or granite factory. They had no suitable clothing, they did not receive enough food and they were exposed to the elements all year long. From 1942, Gross-Rosen was categorized as a Lagerstufe III camp (“camp level III”), meaning that it had the harshest possible conditions; Mauthausen was the only other camp in this category. As a result, countless prisoners got sick, injured themselves while working or died.

    From October 1940, Gross-Rosen had a clinic supervised by an SS camp doctor. But initially, most sick prisoners were sent to Sachsenhausen or Dachau if they were no longer “able to work.” The sick bay gradually expanded over the years. In January 1945, it consisted of a total of seven barracks known as medical blocks. One block was set aside for prisoners with diarrhea, while another was intended for prisoners with infections. In the autumn of 1943, a so-called exemption block (Schonung) was set up in two barracks. Prisoners transferred to this block did not have to work. Despite all of this, medical care was extremely bad throughout the entire existence of the camp because there were hardly any medications or bandages available. Most of the prisoner medics also had little or no medical training. It was not until 1943 that Polish doctors who were themselves prisoners in the camp were allowed to work in the sick bay. The number of sick prisoners rose continually on account of the catastrophic living and working conditions in the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. In January 1945, nearly 3,200 prisoners were sick.

    To maintain an overview of the sick prisoners, a medical registration card file was kept in the sick bay. While sick bay cards were created for nearly all new prisoners in other concentration camps during their initial medical examination, medical registration cards were only filled out in Gross-Rosen when a prisoner was actually admitted to the clinic. Unlike the sick bay cards, these medical registration cards generally contain very little information. There was no space for the prisoner’s medical history, and the sick bay clerks also did not record specific courses of treatment. Instead of a diagnosis, they usually only noted the prisoner’s admittance, release or death in the field marked Krankheit (“illness”). Some cards noted the camp in which a prisoner had previously been held or to which he or she had been transferred from Gross-Rosen. This was an exception, however.

  • How common is the document?

    There are around 170 medical registration cards from Gross-Rosen concentration camp in the archive of the ITS. But because the cards were often used twice – the front side for one prisoner and the back for another – there is information about nearly twice as many people. In these cases, a copy was always created by the ITS for the second person, and this copy was filed under the second person’s name. Comparing the number of existing cards with the total number of prisoners, or with the around 3,200 sick prisoners in January 1945, it is clear that very few medical registration cards have been preserved. The form for these cards was also used in Natzweiler concentration camp. This suggests that medical registration cards were also used in other camps, even though they have not always been preserved.

  • What should be considered when working with the document?

    The medical registration cards appear to document a regulated system of medical care. There was indeed a sick bay in Gross-Rosen, but the prisoners there never received sufficient medical treatment. The death rates were correspondingly high, and prisoners would therefore only report to the SS doctors in an absolute emergency. They feared that they would be transported to other camps, and they also knew that patients who were no longer “able to work” would be killed by lethal injections from SS doctors and sick bay kapos. It was true that prisoners who were no longer “able to work” were regularly transported from Gross-Rosen to Dachau or Sachsenhausen, among other camps, and that many sick prisoners died along the way. There is also proof that patients were murdered in the sick bay.

    If you have any additional information about this document or any other documents described in the e-Guide, we would appreciate it very much if you could send your feedback to eguide(at)its-arolsen.org. The document descriptions are updated regularly – and the best way for us to do this is by incorporating the knowledge you share with us.

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