Kapos

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The supervision arrangements across the various camps varied slightly, but in general each barrack or block would have its own a male or female guard or commander, usually a German or Ukrainian. These block commanders were extremely ruthless and cruel. There are countless stories of brutality against prisoners.

The German commander would appoint prisoners to supervise the other inmates. They were known as ‘Kapos’.

During her time at the Hessisch-Lichtenau work camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, Trude Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, was asked to become a work leader.

Trude said: "It was tempting, but work leaders also had duties. To push around their mates, to spy on them, denounce them." 

She, therefore, refused to cooperate with the Nazis: "I wanted to survive but not at any price – I had a choice about how to behave. She said that: “most girls would have been overjoyed to obtain such a privileged position, as it meant extra rations and other perquisites.” "I did not want to live without my integrity."