Photo: Katharina Brand, Buchenwald Memorial

Roll call square

Day in and day out, as many as 20,000 inmates formed up here at dawn for roll call. In the evening, after ten or more hours of forced labour, the procedure was repeated. Among the remains of the old asphalt paving, a few white travertine stones can still be found; they originally served as markers for the formation of the inmates. Still discernible here and there, their arrangement bears witness to the true purpose of the roll call: to have the inmates march, form up in blocks, tear their caps from their heads, stand and sometimes sing for hours on end. Carried out systematically, the ordeal was part of the programme of humiliation.

There were roll calls which lasted as many as seventy-two hours with no other aim than to terrorize the inmates. Refusal to participate was punishable by death. The inmates stood facing the windows of the Bunker, through which the screams of the torture victims could be heard. On the roll call square, half-naked persons were flogged and fellow prisoners were hanged on the gallows for all to see. The memorial to all of the victims of Buchenwald Concentration Camp is now on the former muster ground.