Among the many various buildings at the larger concentration camps, were storerooms known as an Effektenkammer. These large stores were used to hold the belongings of the prisoners until their release. The largest still standing is at Buchenwald, the camp near Weimar, Germany. Nowadays, the building is used to house the permanent exhibition. The Stammlager (main camp) at Auschwitz also had a large such store. Once a prisoner had arrived, the process of registration would begin. Belongings were carefully recorded and stored away until the prisoner was due for release. In the event of a prisoner's death, the belongings were to be returned to the relatives duly noted within the prisoner's files. In reality however, once the belongings left the prisoner, the chances of the owner being reunited with their belongings diminished as time went on.
M.E.Prenant, a former inmate at KZ-Neuengamme who worked in the Effektenkammer, described their work thus:
"Our work was to gather the belongings of every prisoner who came into the camp. These belongings were divided up into different categories. Valuables were put into envelopes with the prisoner’s name, number and block number on the envelope, and a receipt was issued. On release and presentation of the receipt the prisoner was handed back his belongings.”
1) Buchenwald, Effektenkammer. To the right, disinfection building - nowadays, art displays and temporary exhibitions.
2) Auschwitz-I, Blk26. Initial store barracks at the main camp.
3) Auschwitz-I, this large building was also used to store prisoner's belongings.
4) At Auschwitz-II, Birkenau, the belongings of those destined for the gas chambers were stored in the "Kanada" complex - thirty wooden warehouses located near the crematoria sector. Here, they were sorted and sent to Germany.
5) Mittelbau-Dota, Effektenkammer.
6) Gross-Rosen. The Effektenkammer was located on the grassy area visible behind the main entrance building.
7) Mauthausen. A large memorial now stands where the Effektenkammer was previously located.
8-9) An envelope used to hold a gold ring belonging to a former concentration camp prisoner.