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    The struggle against timelessness: prisoner experiences of time in Nazi concentration camps

    Putnam, Jennifer (2023) The struggle against timelessness: prisoner experiences of time in Nazi concentration camps. Holocaust and Genocide Studies , pp. 1-20. ISSN 8756-6583.

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    This article explores the ways in which timelessness affected prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and how some prisoners attempted to track time. By depriving prisoners of timekeeping methods, the Schutzstaffel (SS) sought to deprive them of a sense of future and therefore hope. Going against the idea that the SS achieved absolute power, however, is the evidence that some prisoners managed to keep track of time, albeit in unconventional ways. This research looks at the material records of timekeeping from the camps, from graffiti writing to recovered personal possessions, in conjunction with survivor testimony to understand exactly how prisoners were able to track time. The ability to keep time was of material and emotional benefit to many prisoners, allowing them to intercept food parcels, avoid beatings, mentally sustain themselves during difficult hours and days, connect through religion, and plan for the future. By opening a window into how prisoners were able to track time, this research contributes to the literature on daily life in the camps and demonstrates the value of integrated studies of prisoner life, showing how prisoner groups communicated and how their communication affected prisoner hierarchies, power, and survival.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Jennifer Putnam
    Date Deposited: 31 May 2023 12:53
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:21


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