As in the concentration camps, those prisoners selected for work faced appalling conditions and severe treatment. After being woken at dawn, they would have to stand in line for the roll call and endure many hours of hard labour. At the end of the working day, exhausted, they returned to the camp, when they would once again have to stand in line for evening roll call.
During roll call (appell) prisoners would have to stand still, wearing very thin clothing, in all weathers and for hours on end. The block kapo would count the number of prisoners before reporting to the SS officer.
If the number of prisoners appeared not to be correct, it would take hours until the SS officer finally made the numbers tally. Anyone unable to stand was taken away to his or her death.
Roll calls were often used as a punishment to prisoners. This was especially the case with evening roll call, which often took much longer than the morning one. If a prisoner had not worked hard enough he or she would be punished; if a prisoner had attempted some form of resistance, he or she would be punished; if a prisoner tried to escape, he or she would be punished. Punishment usually meant death.
This treatment was used to teach the other prisoners that it was pointless to resist.