"Constructing Social Reality in Concentration Camp": the example of Buchenwald - Inner Stratification-Norm Formation- Solidarity in a Total Institution with Absolute Power

Master's Thesis, 2005

62 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Method

III. Theoretical Discussion

IV. Empirical Part
4.1. The Functional Development of the Concentration Camp System and the 22 Quantitative Composition of Buchenwald
4.2. The Concentration Camp as a Total Institution with Absolute Power:
The External Stratification of the Prisoners’ Society
4.2.1. The System of Categorizing or Labeling
4.2.2. The Underlying Criteria of the External Stratification
4.2.3. The Delegation of Power: The Functional Prisoners
4.2.4. A Model of the External Stratification of the Prisoners’ society
4.3. The Internal Stratification: The Fight between the “Greens” and “Reds”
4.4. The Formation of Norms
4.5. Aspects of Solidarity

V. Conclusion


I. Introduction

60 years ago, on April 11th in 1945, the first American soldiers of the Third Army reached the area of the concentration camp KL Buchenwald[1], close to Weimar in the centre of Germany. Until April 10th, the SS commanding officer had tried to clear the camp, also an order of the bombardment of the area could no longer carried out.[2] Most of the SS guards (“Schutzstaffel”/ Guard Unit) had left the camp rashly shortly before the arrival of the American soldiers, and the low number of those who had stayed was overpowered by armed prisoners.[3] In the camp were 21000 prisoners under miserable conditions, a multitude of seriously ill persons, wasting away and numerous corpses. Buchenwald so was the first of the big concentration camps, which was liberated and not removed before by the SS. Still, over the next weeks, one thousand persons died because of malnutrition and illness. Altogether, about 239000 people were arrested, of whom 56000 died in the concentration camp, set up in July in 1937, as well in the numerous outward camps.[4]

On April 10th in 2005, there was the memorial celebration of the liberation of the concentration camp Buchenwald – which was at the same time the German official main celebration of all camps’ liberation in Weimar. The main intention of the speeches was focused on the importance of a continuing remembrance process of the events in the Third Reich and especially the Holocaust or Genocide[5] on the European Jews and the Sinti and Roma; or as the president of the German Central Council of Jews, Paul Spiegel, said, the transmission of the “baton of memory“[6]. The author and Buchenwald survivor Jorge Semprún pointed out that the contemporary witnesses will die the next years, and that so a new epoch within the memory process begins, for him, above all the fictional literature shall assume this obligation[7], but necessary is a continuation by society as a whole.

The remembrance of the responsibility and guilt for the Holocaust is and will be an important part of the German national identity and collective memory. The renowned historian Raul Hilberg wrote in his core literature about the extermination of the Jews: “History cannot be undone, all the more not the history of this occurrence, which stood at the centre of the shake up, which changed the world. Not to know this past means not to understand oneself.”[8] To know and to reappraise the past in order to understand oneself, this difficult path of self-examination, must be gone ahead, and as well in a European context. Not only the passing on of the memory, but also protection, deepening and extension of knowledge, a closer examination of facts and re-asking of questions in order to find new answers must therefore be the goal of every research generation in this field. History shows that what was possible can recur, everywhere, completely, partially or similarly[9] – it is a matter of prevention – and that is why any study of the period from 1933 till 1945 is meaningful.

When I started to deal with the topic of concentration camps, my basic interest was to analyze how the victims tried to react – as far as this was possible - to the systematic terror of the National Socialists. In short, how they constructed their social reality within the secluded and all-pervasive system of the concentration camp in interpersonal and inter-group relations. Therefore, one has to examine on the one hand on the vertical level the captive’s relations with the SS and on the other hand on the horizontal level the relations between the different captives. The latter will be in the center of my attention. A multitude of question arises in this broad field of interests, which require answers: Which stratifications and social hierarchies were developed? Which norms and laws were negotiated within the prisoners’ society? How were the power relations among the prisoners organized? Was there a far-reaching solidarity among the prisoner groups?

Even when the text corpus about the Holocaust and the concentration camps seems to be huge, it turns out, according to my current enquiries, that this perspective of the social life of the victims in a concentration camp has been relatively neglected. Especially conspicuous is the fact that sociology has stayed out to a large extent of the scientific discourse about this field, although basic micro-sociological aspects are approached.[10] The change of this and the obtaining of systematic insights concerning the “how” and “why” with the help of sociological tools shall be the basic field of interest of my work.

At first sight, the terms which I use like “social life” or “construction of reality”, appear disconcerting but it is obvious that in every social situation, and therefore also in a concentration camp, under certain aspects social reality is created trough externalization of sense.[11] Moreover, it is clear that the institution concentration camp form the absolute frame, the everything-determining instance for the processes of creating reality of the prisoners. But under the surface of this “standardized machinery of terror”[12] there were niches and partial possibilities to structure the life. The prisoner’s were not only passively suffering and enduring, but also active and reactive in individual and group related acting; fighting for survival in cooperation and conflicts, and defending through communal and protection forms.[13] The fact that the self-government was introduced in German concentration camps in 1937 to maintain order because of rising prisoner numbers is therefore central, as more and more functions of the camp administration were transferred to the prisoners and consequently partly and indirect possibilities of organizing this reality emerged.[14] So it is to some extent possible to speak about a special kind of society, the prisoners’ society in a concentration camp based on external force and intensifying social extremes and hierarchies.[15] It is obvious that this society was internally differentiated and underwent an extremely dynamic process of development and change.[16] Functional changes of the concentration camp, which directly influenced the inner camp conditions, new waves of prisoner types and later on the internalisation made the composition of the camp society an extremely complicated object. Therefore, my analysis can consider a very small part of the camp society, which was in the case of Buchenwald approximately as big as a small town; nevertheless , I claim to at least touch the variety of the camp society.

In my opinion, it is necessary to introduce a moral discussion about two interlinked aspects, on the one hand the linking of the extreme situation to ordinary life with the intention to identify deeper truths of the human condition and basic values – as it can be identified above all in former scientific examinations but also in the most recent ones – and on the other hand the use of sociological tools and theories to analyze the prisoners’ behavoir.

According to the Auschwitz survivor and author Primo Levi, behavior in the extreme situation of the concentration camp is not placed in direct contrast to civil life in society; on the contrary, he points out the continuity between the two worlds. Consequently, an analysis could identify social mechanisms, which are also the basis of everyday life, but only come into effect under extreme conditions.[17] In other words, this behavior in extreme situations illustrates processes, which underlie society but are covered and hard to decipher in everyday life.[18] For example Todorov takes up this issue, he uses “the extreme as an instrument, a sort of magnifying glass that can bring into better focus certain things that in the normal course of human affairs remain blurry”[19]. Therefore, his interests aim at “reach[ing] a better understanding of our own moral life”[20]. At this point the question arises if this is ethically and morally permissible, with this intention. Should we analyze the acting and behaviour of the victims under extreme working conditions, hunger, terror and death to identify a deeper understanding of the human (conditio humana), which is hidden in every day life? It is even more difficult, because a large part of the survivors of concentration camps, who wanted to examine scientifically their experiences, called one function of the concentration camp to create “a gigantic biological and social experiment“[21] – for the SS as Levi said or Bruno Bettelheim’s expression “an experimental laboratory”[22], in which the SS perfected and systematized its method in enrichment, de-humanization, totalitarian exploitation and rational extermination, and not to forget medical experiments. This would mean to utilize indirectly the perverted experiment of the SS for scientific research. However, many concentration camp survivors have pointed out, that it is necessary to analyze the behavior of the SS and the prisoners with the intention of referring to the normal world, because the concentration camp is an “Ecce homo-mirror”[23]. That is why I think it is in principle permissible to analyse the prisoners’ behaviour – very carefully – in order to gain eventually deeper knowledge of the human nature, seen from that point of view this is possible. In my opinion a description and explanation of the reality of the victims in a concentration camp in every facets and details with sociological tool is clearly scientifically tenable and necessary. However, it shall not become a field for experimenting, within which one can test any theory. For example, there should be other possibilities than to investigate commoditization-as-process or acts of consumer behavior, based on documents of Buchenwald survivors.[24]

II. Method

Purpose of the Paper, Outline and Definitions

In the following paragraph, I will explain the purpose of my paper, the outline of the empirical part and definitions of central terms, however, this will be interlinked with each other in my argumentation.

In the empirical part I will explain three exemplary processes of social construction of reality by the captives: the inner stratification, the formation of norms, as well as acts of solidarity. But before, it is absolutely necessary to describe and explain the all-determining institutional frame of the concentration camp. That is why I will refer in the empirical part on the one hand shortly to the development of concentration camps in Germany – exemplary focusing on KL Buchenwald in a historiographic description (4.1.) And on the other hand, it is necessary to explain deeper in an institutional and power analytical analyse, how the concentration camp determined, organized and formed with this unique terror and power mechanism of the absolute power the life and behaviour of the prisoners (4.2). In the first step, in the historiographic description, I will illustrate the administrative and functional changes in the institutions within the national socialist system of camps - which have of course direct influences on the life – as well provide a broad view of the quantitative composition of the camp society.

Under a concentration camp I will understand the most extreme form of a total institution in the sense of an organization, in which its unique absolute power determines space, time, sociality, and life and death of the prisoners.[25] This absolute power has to be seen until now as the most powerful and most extreme existent form of power, which is almost unconceivable in its despotic capriciousness or dictatorial force. Absolute power based not first and foremost on exploitation or punishment power, but on terror, organisation, systematic destruction through violence, hunger, work, and excessive killing power up to “business like” extermination and “use” of the human like raw material.[26] But the total institution concentration camp is not a German invention, but rather its story begins with the establishment of colonial concentration camps by the Spanish, Americans and English since 1896.[27] However, new and historically unique is the systematic method of annihilation, which was perfected in the German concentration camps, the state-initiated and industrially carried out mass annihilation of Jews and Sinti and Roma, with the help of a proven state administration, with a public service of extermination.[28] One can divide the German concentration camp system in three grades. Grade I subsumed labour camps (“Arbeitslager”) and camps with comparatively little killing capriciousness; here the conditions were least intolerable (Dachau). Grade II meant an aggravation of conditions as compared with grade I and with an increased killing capriciousness and partly exclusive killing intention (Flossenbürg, Buchenwald, Auschwitz I). Grade III comprised the camps, in which the majority of prisoners was liquidated immediately after arriving, while remaining were allowed to live until their work power had been completely used up (Auschwitz II-Birkenau,) and the “death-factories”, in which everybody was killed immediately after arriving (Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka).[29] If one applies the theoretical construct of the total institution with absolute power, one faces an increase of absolute power in its “effectiveness” and annihilation pressure from Grade I to Grade III. But one has to see the subdivision only as a generalization, so the transitions from I to II often fluid, and also the camps in stage II had occasionally an explicit annihilation function, so for example, in Buchenwald the killing of 7500 Soviet prisoners of war in a “neck shot building” (“Genickschußanlage”). Nevertheless, in Buchenwald, as the Nobel prize winner Imre Kertész states, the killing was, in comparison to Auschwitz II, “here not the purpose, not the nature matter, not the soul and meaning of the whole“.[30]

The institutional and power-analytical analyse in Part 4.2 will be orientated, in the face of my research questions, to the special field of institutional intervening in sociality, namely the structuring through the so-called external stratification. Social stratification means a social differentiation and hierarchization in a social system or organization of individuals and groups in the sense of a social rank with horizontal borderlines.[31] This stratification in a concentration camp has to be seen under several points of view. That is why I will try to reconstruct briefly the bureaucratic classification through color-coded badges and letters (4.2.1), the stratification criteria of the National Socialists (4.2.2), as well as the system of the delegation of power of the prisoners in functional positions (4.2.3) to summarize finally these aspects in a stratification model (4.2.4). Again, social stratification has to be seen predominantly as the construct of the institution concentration camp with its unique absolute power.

But besides this basic and all-determining external stratification, to my mind, also an inner stratification can be identified, in which hierarchizations between prisoner groups as well on the individual level take place. My analysis – as a first example of a process of constructing reality – will concentrate on the group level on the example of the struggle for leadership in the prisoners’ society between the “Criminal“ group, which was subsumed under the “Green” prisoners’ category, and the “Communist” group, which was a part of the “Red” category (4.3.). A more comprehensive dealing with these categories, as well as a more detailed term specification will follow in the empirical part, because it would go beyond the scope at this point. Here, it should only be mentioned that both collectives could fundamentally be labelled more or less social groups, because the members pursue the realization of commonly defined goals in their social relations, in a relatively continuously process of communication and interactions, based on common norms, values and social role. Moreover, an identification as “we“ occurs among the members, simultaneously accompanied by an exclusion of the “non-we”, which results in a distinction and boundaries of the in-group to the out-group.[32]

The next aspect of social construction refers to the processes of norm formation (4.4). According to a widely accepted view, norms can be understood as valid regulations for human acting and behaviour, which are oriented directly or indirectly on value expectations. They regulate acting in situations and are covered through positive or negative sanctions. They create a system of rules and mutual expectations for those interacting and thus a system of social order.[33] In the empirical part, I will refer to the two most important basic norms, on the one hand the ban of comradeship theft and on the other hand the ban of collaboration like to relinquish camp internal information to the SS as an informer.

Additionally, I will deal with the question if there was a higher solidarity – defined as “a mode of acting, which includes certain forms of helping, supporting or co-operative behaviour and is based on a subjectively accepted commitment or a value judgement”[34] - as among the prisoners, besides nationality, prisoners groups etc. (4.5). My aim is to derive these questions from my previous explanations, especially from the external stratification as well as group sociological aspects.

Choice of case

I chose Buchenwald for my explanations of processes of social construction of reality, because of following reasons. Buchenwald was – as I mentioned in the introduction – mainly a concentration camp and not an extermination camp and it was possible to establish something like a camp society. Besides this it was one of the oldest greater and long existent concentration camps, from 1937 till April in 1945. In this period of time, it is possible to reconstruct all waves of admission - which will be described more deeply in 4.1 in the empirical part - like the arrest of the political and religious opposition; people who did not correspond to the social policy of the National Socialists, like “persons unwilling to work”, “asocials”, “criminals” and “gypsies”; the first bigger arrest of Jews after the pogrom in November 9th in 1938; after the beginning of the war the internationalisation of prisoners and finally the mass deportations till 1945.[35] However, decisive for the choice of Buchenwald were the sources, on the one hand especially the so-called “Buchenwald-report”. Buchenwald was the first big concentration camp, which was liberated and not removed before from the SS. The until then suspected and in this dimension not yet perceived cruelty should be recorded and documented on the example of Buchenwald through statements of the prisoners. Prisoners were interviewed and requested to write collectively about their experiences, direct after the liberation. The result was the “Buchenwald-report“, which had been forgotten after the Second World War and later was regarded as being missing, until it was found finally and completely published in 1996.[36] And on the other hand, there is a multitude of scientifically oriented experience reports, which I will refer to later on.


My methodological proceeding is a qualitative approach, which basic assumption strives for a stronger subject-based reference of scientific research, which expresses itself through interpretation of the research subject, through which generalizing statements can be made.[37] That means in my case, first and foremost, that I will answer my research orientation through interpretations of primary sources, which are documents of eyewitnesses of the concentration camp Buchenwald. Because I will mainly refer to Buchenwald, my research results should be tested as compared to other concentration camps in order to, if necessary, make limitations, more precise specifications and modifications.

Because I deal with texts, as individual explanations of meaning relations and world interpretations, which were manifested in a text, in other words, interpretations of individuals of the social reality of the concentration camp, which I will analyze through interpretation, my work follows the tradition of the hermeneutical method.[38] Hermeneutics means explaining, in the respect of clarifying, the true and deeper meaning of contents of texts.[39] What has to be considered in my case, when interpreting texts or sources, the following paragraph shall clarify.

Discourse of the Sources

In the following, I will introduce the primary sources and will explain what has to be considered when analyzing these. I am going to concentrate mostly on primary sources, which are based on experiences in the concentration camp Buchenwald. I divided the primary sources in three typologies: firstly “eyewitnesses with a scientific analytical orientation”, secondly “experience or memory reports with less or without scientific orientation” and thirdly the “literal processing” of Buchenwald experiences in “novels”. Before I will explain these primary sources more deeply, supplementary general statements about leadership in the victims discourse about the experienced follows.

In general it is clear that the different nationalities and the prisoner groups in its entirety are not equally represented by the published writings about the concentration camp experience, because of the simple fact that not all had the same chance to survive. Reports from groups of “Jewish”, “Asocial”, “Criminals”, “Homosexual”, “Gypsy” prisoners, as well as Polish and Russian prisoners are relatively underrepresented. In contrast, the chances to survive for people from Western Europe and especially Germany and Austria, as well Czechs were far bigger. Moreover, it has to be considered that in the case of Buchenwald, the political prisoners, and above all the Communist prisoners, because of their solidarity and the successful occupying of essential functional positions, had the biggest chances of survival and consequently are over represented.[40] All this led to the fact that this minority of the upper class or so-called prominence, mostly Communist prisoners in functional positions marks mainly the collective memory.[41]

The first group of primary sources consists of concentration camp survivors, who had a scientific education and who tried to make a systematic and objective analyse of their camp experiences. These books are Eugon Kogon´s Der SS-Staat (1946)[42], Benedikt Kautsky´s Teufel und Verdammte (1946)[43], Paul Martin Neurath´s Die Gesellschaft des Terrors (1951)[44] and Bruno Bettelheim´s Aufstand gegen die Masse (1960)[45].

In this case of scientists – who are eyewitnesses and victims – it is necessary to consider if this is a sufficient basis for serious scholarship and how valid these kinds of texts are. On the one hand, there is the opinion – from a more psychological oriented research – that only the subjectivity of first hand experience can really adequatly represent and analyze extrem phenomena in the concentration camp world like banishment or extermination. Historians and sociologists, so the argumentation, cannot do this in their objective way.[46] On the other hand, it has been argued that through the participation on the research field subjective feelings predominate and an analytic-objective investigation of data is not guaranteed, so that these are not representative. Especially Bettelheim had to tackle the latter problem, because he was one of the first survivors, who examined scientifically their experiences in public; that is why he conducted scientific research, to the extent his situations allowed.[47] Kogon also tries this, and he emphasizes his special position for analyzing of the structures of the concentration camps, because of his scientific education.[48] Kautsky claims, too, giving an objective depiction of the “nature” of the concentration camp through a separation of analysis and an excessive addition of personal experiences. Nevertheless, he says that he cannot deny his ideological basic attitude of being a democratic socialist and that it is also an element of the text.[49] Without going deeper into this field, I will refer to the topic “research in or on” the concentration camp from a more pragmatic perspective. I will orientate myself towards the sources and will adopt a mediate position between the two indicated extremes – aiming at using the scientific eyewitness-quality as a unique source, but abstracting objective statements from personal experiences. I doubt if it is possible that a scientist in this extreme situation can free himself from his experiences to analyze it objectively and scientifically. However, his scientific education and the deliberate demand to proceed objectively can of course influence the result in a positive way. So Kogon’s work for example is still regarded as standard literature. However, it is decisive to scrutinize also these results and not to accept it uncritically and to compare it with sociological and historical research.

Even more problematic is the second group of my primary sources, which consists more of experience reports of ordinary people. Here it is far more important to proceed very carefully with the analysis, but they also provide an extraordinary opportunity to reconstruct the social life within a concentration camp. Many things have to be considered like for example: when did they write the text and where was the text published; was the writer a privileged prisoner; which political-ideological attitude was supported; how long was the prisoner in the camp etc. Accordingly it is conspicuous, for example, that a above average number of experience reports – like I mentioned- were published from political prisoners of the communists mostly in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) and later East Germany – what partly has a very strong effect on the selection and way of reporting.[50] So the solidarity among the communists and all “antifascist” prisoners as well as the organized camp struggle are emphasized. In the center of attention is their accusation of the National Socialists’ crimes. However, the problems with their own positions, connected to major privileges, such as an own room or additional food, which even brought them in the grey area of being a collaborator, are excluded and concealed. In the public representations of their camp experiences they borrowed the misery of those, who were exposed to the worst conditions, as if it had been valid for all and therefore also for themselves.[51]

As completion to this subtype I also consulted so far unpublished reports of the archive of the memorial Buchenwald.[52]


[1] K.L. was the official term; K.Z. was the term used by the prisoners (Elie A. Cohen, Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1953), p. 3).

[2] David A. Hackett, (ed.), Der Buchenwald-Report. Bericht über das Konzentrationslager bei Weimar (1995), (München: C.H.Beck, 2002), p.22.

[3] In the GDR, the role of the prisoners at the liberation of the camp was put in the center of attention. The so-called self-liberation through the resistance of the international communist prisoners was exaggerated and ideologically instrumentalized for the authorization of the GDR. The role of the Americans was downplayed. However, it is obvious that without the approaching American army this would never have been possible. Nevertheless, one should not belittle the accomplishments of the communist prisoners, who developed a military unit, obtained and produced weapons and above all through their passive resistance during the last days could delay or partly ruin the evacuation, ordered by the SS (Gedenkstätte Buchenwald (ed.), Konzentrationslager Buchenwald 1937-1945. Begleitband zur ständigen historischen Ausstellung, (Göttingen: Wallstein, 1999), p. 232).

[4] ibid,. p. 253.

[5] The term ‘Holocaust’ asserted itself in the analysis of the events in the context of the annihilation of the European Jews. It denotes a sacred act, in which the totally burnt victim is exclusively dedicated to God. The term emphasized the role of the Jews as victims and is an expression of the Jewish fate and period of suffering as well as the unique character of the event. In the Jewish collective memory, however, the term ‘Shoa’ is used first and foremost, which literally means catastrophe. The term ‘Genocide’ derives from jurisprudence and denotes annihilation of entire nations and ethnics, it also refers to several victim categories (Michael Pollak, “Ein Forschungsbericht und seine Bedeutung. Ein Nachwort”, in Jacob Goldstein, Irving F.Lukoff, Herbert A. Strauss, Individuelles und kollektives Verhalten in Nazi-Konzentrationslagern. Soziologische und psychologische Studien zu Berichten ungarisch-jüdischer Überlebender, (Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, 1991), p. 195).

[6] Paul Spiegel, Rede des Präsidenten des Zentralrates der Juden in Deutschland am 10. April 2005 im Weimarer Nationaltheater anlässlich der zentralen Gedenkveranstaltung aus Anlass des 60. Jahrestages der Befreiung der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, (15-04-2004).

[7] Jorge Semprún, Rede am 10. April 2005 im Weimarer Nationaltheater anlässlich der zentralen Gedenkveranstaltung aus Anlass des 60. Jahrestages der Befreiung der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, (15-04-2004).

[8] Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden (1961), (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1999), pp. 9-10.

[9] Volkhard Knigge, “Statt eines Vorwortes: Vorgeschichte einer Ausstellung“, in Gedenkstätte Buchenwald ed., Konzentrationslager Buchenwald 1937-1945. Begleitband zur ständigen historischen Ausstellung, (Göttingen: Wallstein, 1999), p. 14. Not only from a history perspective, this thesis is emphasized, which does not interpret the Holocaust as a unique and principally not again possible return of the events. So for example Zygmunt Bauman – as a representative of sociology – concludes in a similar way, of course from other points of view. He puts the Holocaust explicitly in the development history of the modern age and the civilization process, which had to, according to its bureaucratic-rational features, contain the possibility of the Holocaust, with the result that a repetition can be possible on principle. Interpretations of the Holocaust as a “unique return to barbarity” or as an “accident of history” are therefore misleading and not permitted (Zygmunt Bauman, Dialektik der Ordnung. Die Moderne und der Holocaust (1989), Uwe Ahrens trs., (Hamburg: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 2002), pp. 12-14.

[10] Cp.: Wolfgang Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors: Das Konzentrationslager (1993), (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2004), p. 327.

[11] Peter L. Berger & Thomas Luckmann, Die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion der Wirklichkeit (1966), (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2000), p. 65. They use this term to explain the dialectic of the continuous process of constructing social reality. Which they summarise in the following way: “society as a human product“, which means the externalisation of sense in the empiric reality; the “society as an objective reality”, which means that the externalised products - for example through history - take an objective character (objectification) and “the human as a social product”, which means first the unconscious internalisation of the objective reality - for example through socialisation - and later conscious examination of the reality. So, the term externalisation refers only to becoming reality of sense and ideas in the actor perspective on the micro-level (ibid, p. 65).

[12] Paul Martin Neurath, Die Gesellschaft des Terrors. Innenansichten der Konzentrationslager Dachau und Buchenwald (1951), (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004), p. 37

[13] Jacob Goldstein, & Irving F. Lukoff. & Herbert A Strauss, Individuelles und kollektives Verhalten in Nazi-Konzentrationslagern. Soziologische und psychologische Studien zu Berichten ungarisch-jüdischer Überlebender, (Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, 1991), p. 17.

[14] Neurath, Die Gesellschaft des Terrors, p. 29.

[15] ibid., p. 30; Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors, p. 22; H.G. Adler, “Die Erfahrung der Ohnmacht”, in H.G.Adler, Beiträge zur Soziologie unserer Zeit, (Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1964), p. 211.

[16] Falk Pingel, “The Destruction of Human Identity in Concentration Camps: The Contribution of the Social Sciences to an Analysis of Behavior under Extreme Conditions”, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 1991, p. 170.

[17] Primo Levi, Ist das ein Mensch? (1958), Heinz Riedt trs., (München: DTV, 2004), p. 104; Chiara Volpato & Alberta Contarella, “Towards a social psychology of extreme situations: Primo Levi´s If This is a Man and social identity theory”, in European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 29, issue 2-3, 1999, p. 240.

[18] Volpato & Contarella, “Towards a social psychology of extreme situations”, p. 255.

[19] Tzetan Todorov, Facing the Extreme. Moral Life in the Concentration Camps (1991), Arthur Denner a. Abigail Pollack trs., (London: Phoenix, 2000), p. 27.

[20] ibid., p. 30.

[21] Volpato & Contella, “Towards a social psychology of extreme situations”, p. 240.

[22] Bruno Bettelheim, Aufstand gegen die Masse. Die Chance des Individuums in der modernen Gesellschaft (1960), Hermann Schroeder a. Paul Horstrup trs., (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1995), p. 121.

[23] Eugen Kogon, Der SS-Staat, (Stockholm: Bermann-Fischer, 1947), p. 9. This means verbatim: Look, what a human! = Look in the mirror, and see what the human nature is.

[24] Cp.: Elizabeth C. Hirschman & Ronald Paul Hill, “On human commoditization and resistance: A model based upon Buchenwald Concentration Camp“, in Psychology and Marketing, vol. 17, issue 6, 2000, pp. 469-491.

[25] Erving Goffman, Asylums. Essays on the Social Situations of Mental Patients and the other Inmates, (London: Penguin, 1961), p. 11; Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors, pp. 22-23. At his point, I will only give a general definition of the basic terms, a prevailing deeper theoretical examination follows in part III of my paper.

[26] Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors, pp. 14/23.

[27] Andrzej J. Kaminski, Konzentrationslager 1896 bis heute. Eine Analyse, (Stuttgart/Berlin/Köln/Mainz: Kohlhammer, 1982), pp. 34-35.

[28] Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors, p. 21; Hannah Arendt, “Die vollendete Sinnlosigkeit”(1950), in Eike Geisel, Klaus Bittermann eds,. Nach Auschwitz. Essays & Kommentare 1, Eike Geisel trs., (Berlin: Edition Tiamat, 1989), pp. 9-30.

[29] Cohen, Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp, pp. 19-20.

[30] Imre Kertész, Roman eines Schicksallosen (1975), Christina Viragh trs., (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1998), p. 124.

[31] Wolfgang Bisler, “soziale Schichtung“, in Werner Fuchs-Heinritz, Rüdiger Lautmann et al. eds., Lexikon zur Soziologie (1973), (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1995), p. 584.

[32] Hans Paul Bahrdt, Schlüsselbegriffe der Soziologie. Eine Einführung mit Lehrbeispielen (1984), (München: Beck, 1992), p. 90; Bernhard Schäfers, “Die soziale Gruppe”, in Hermann Korte, Bernhard Schäfers eds., Einführung in Hauptbegriffe der Soziologie, (Opladen: Leske+Budrich, 1992), p.83.

[33] Bahrdt, Schlüsselbegriffe der Soziologie, p. 49; Christine Horn, “Sociological perspectives on the emerge of social norms”, in Michael Hechter, Karl-Dieter Opp eds., Social Norms, (New York: Russel Saga Foundation, 2001), p. 4.

[34] Helmut Thome, “Soziologie und Solidarität: Theoretische Perspektiven für die empirische Forschung”, in Kurt Bayertz ed., Solidarität. Begriff und Probleme, (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998), p. 219.

[35] Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors, pp. 41-57.

[36] Hackett, (ed.), Der Buchenwald- Report, p. 20 (cp. footnote 2).

[37] Philipp Mayring, Einführung in die qualitative Sozialforschung. Eine Anleitung zu qualitativen Denken, (Weinheim: Union, 1996), p. 9.

[38] Gerhard Kleining, “Methodologie und Geschichte qualitativer Sozialforschung”, in Uwe Flick, Ernst von Kardorff et. al eds., Handbuch Qualitative Sozialforschung. Grundlagen, Konzepte, Methoden und Anwendungen, (Weinheim: Beltz, 1995), p.17.

[39] Zygmunt Bauman, “Introduction: the challenge of hermeneutics”, in Zygmunt Bauman, Hermeneutics and Social Science. Appoaches to Understand, (London: Hutchinson, 1978), p. 7.

[40] Herbert Ulrich & Karin Orth & Christoph Dieckmann, “Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Geschichte, Erinnerung, Forschung”, in Herbert Ulrich, Karin Orth, Christoph Dieckmann eds., Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Entwicklung und Struktur, vol. 1, (Göttingen: Wallstein, 1998), pp. 20-21.

[41] Lutz Niethammer, “Häftlinge und Häftlingsgruppen im Lager. Kommentierende Bemerkungen”, in Herbert Ulrich, Karin Orth, Christoph Dieckmann eds., Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Entwicklung und Struktur, vol. 2, ( Göttingen: Wallstein, 1998), p. 1047.

[42] Cp.: footnote 23. Kogon´s book must be seen as a special case, because it bases on part one of the Buchenwald-report, which was drawn up in a collective work under Kogon´s leadership. Thus, the SS-Staat is a symbioses of this report and Kogon´s own experience, but he explicitly labelled it as a new manuscript. The high authenticity and objectiveness increase even more, because the leading communist prisoners blessed it (ibid., pp. 19-20). Kogon was as a Austrian political prisoner in Buchenwald from 1939 till 1945, and employed in different higher position in the prisoner’s self-government (Gedenkstätte Buchenwald (ed.), Konzentrationslager Buchenwald 1937-1945, p. 300).

[43] Benedikt Kautsky, Teufel und Verdammte. Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse aus sieben Jahren in den deutschen Konzentrationslagern, (Zürich: Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1946). He was imprisoned from May 1938 until September 1938 in Dachau, from September 1938 until 1942 in Buchenwald, from 1942 till 1945 in Auschwitz, and since January 1945 in Buchenwald again. His categories were political Jew until January 1943, and afterwards “aryenized” as an Austrian political prisoner (ibid., pp. 11/46).

[44] Cp.: footnote 12. He was imprisoned in Dachau from April until September 1938 and then in Buchenwald until May 1939 as a political Jew (Christian Fleck & Albert Müller & Nico Stehr, “Nachwort”, in Paul Martin Neurath Die Gesellschaft des Terrors. Innenansichten der Konzentrationslager Dachau und Buchenwald (1951), Hella Beister trs., (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004), p. 414).

[45] Cp.: footnote 22. I refer to this book, because it is a rework of his fundamental essay “Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations” (1943), the latter I have only as an analysis of an secondary text. Bettelheim was imprisoned in Dachau and Buchenwald from May 1938 until April 1939 (Christian Fleck & Albert Müller, “Bruno Bettelheim and the Concentration Camps”, in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, vol. 33, issue 1, 1997, pp. 2/5).

[46] Volpato & Contarella, “Towards a social psychology of extreme situations”, p. 241.

[47] Fleck & Müller, “Bruno Bettelheim and the Concentration Camps”, p. 6.

[48] Kogon, Der SS-Staat, p. 12.

[49] Kautsky, Teufel und Verdammte, pp. 7/13.

[50] Karl Barthel, Die Welt ohne Erbarmen. Bilder und Skizzen aus dem K.Z., (Rudolstadt: Greifenverlag, 1946); Walter Poller, Arztschreiber in Buchenwald. Bericht des Häftlings 996 aus Block 39, (Hamburg: Phönix, 1947); Rudi Jahn, (ed.), Das war Buchenwald! Ein Tatsachenbericht, (Leipzig: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Literatur, 1945).

[51] Niethammer, “Häftlinge und Häftlingsgruppen im Lager“, p. 1048.

[52] Pierre de Harcourt, In Buchenwald überlebt, (Buchenwaldarchiv, Sign.31/493); Kurt Leonhardt, Über die Solidaritätsaktionen anlässlich des Eintreffens der ersten sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen in Buchenwald, (Buchenwaldarchiv, Sign. 522/10); Henryk Mikoajczyk, Der Kampf gegen den Verrat in Buchenwald, (Buchenwaldarchiv, Sign. 31/990); Fausto Pecorari, “Die italienische Solidarität“, in Aussagen und Berichte ehemaliger Häftlinge des KZ Buchenwaldes. Bd.II, (Buchenwaldarchiv, Sign. 31/59), pp. 231-233.

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"Constructing Social Reality in Concentration Camp": the example of Buchenwald - Inner Stratification-Norm Formation- Solidarity in a Total Institution with Absolute Power
University of Dalarna
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Konzentrationslager, Nationalsozialismus, Buchenwald, Häftlingsgesellschaft, Binnenstrukturen
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Stefan Lochner (Author), 2005, "Constructing Social Reality in Concentration Camp": the example of Buchenwald - Inner Stratification-Norm Formation- Solidarity in a Total Institution with Absolute Power, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/42620


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