Finn tent plywood shelters, earth huts and clay pipe buildings

The prisoners’ accommodation at Landsberg/Kaufering concentration subcamp complex and Mühldorf was of the most primitive kind. Plywood shelters served partly as provisional accommodation while the camp was being built. They consisted of simple plywood panels and were easy to transport and erect.

The round plywood shelters consisted of plywood panels and were often used as initial accommodation for concentration camp prisoners. Source: University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum

When the camp was expanded, the plywood shelters were predominantly replaced with so-called earth huts. This was a gable roof covered with earth that rested on the ground via an excavated central passage. The sleeping area was located to the side of the central corridor strengthened with wooden boards for around 50 prisoners. There was only one window on the front side opposite the entrance. There was often a lack of fuel for the stove in the earth hut.

The concentration camp prisoners had to construct the earth huts themselves. In the background, the camp fence and a watch tower of the Kaufering IX camp are visible. The photo was taken after the liberation in April 1945. Source: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau
The hygiene conditions in the earth huts were appalling. The photograph shows Kaufering IV camp after liberation in 1945. Source: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

The SS had so-called clay pipe buildings erected in the Kaufering I, VII and XI camps, whose roofs were constructed from French clay pipes. The clay pipes were connected together to form a vault that rested on a concrete foundation embedded in the earth. A layer of humus was applied to the vault as with earth huts. The buildings were approx. 13.50 m long and 6 m wide.

Contemporary witness Zwi Katz about his time in the KZ subcamp complex Landsberg/Kaufering. Source: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

After the overseer of the Todt Organisation had measured the site and aligned the corners, we started to carry out work under his supervision. (…) In the middle of this cleared square we dug a trench of one metre in width and 25 metres in length from one end to the other. We could move in the middle of this trench. On the left and right side there remained two metres each for sleeping places, which were covered with wooden planks. The entire structure was to be covered with prefabricated, cheap wooden planks, some roof material made out of tar and a layer of sand, as well as pieces of turf for the top layer. A prefabricated wooden wall with a window was built on one side of this structure. On the other side, the entrance, a wall with a door was constructed. We had to dig a few steps and secure them with wood and gravel – and then the accommodation for 50 prisoners was ready.

– Martin Stern about the camp construction

List of sources
As well as being housed in earth huts and plywood shelters, the concentration camp prisoners were accommodated in buildings made from earthenware pipes, as shown here in Camp VII. Source: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau