In the camp jargon, a “gammel” was a patient in the final stage of physical exhaustion and beyond any hope of recovery. They were placed in special barracks known as gammelblocks. Such barracks were situated in every male field of the camp, separated from the rest of the area with a tall fence. Those confined inside would die in slow agony, deprived of food or any medical attention.
In some reported cases, such prisoners were killed with a strike of a blunt object to the head, hanged or had their gold teeth pulled out by prisoner functionaries. Anyone still alive after several days, similarly to any Jew no longer fit for manual labor, was murdered. Also prisoners selected in the infirmaries to be killed in the gas chambers would temporarily be placed in the gammelblocks.
Only very few ever managed to secretly escape the gammelblocks with the help of fellow prisoners. One such person was Tadeusz Stabholz, a Jewish doctor.
The people are resigned and completely exhausted. Most have wounds and abscesses on their legs. Skeletons. Their only concern is whether they will still be fed before death. Because we are all aware that we’re heading for the gas chamber. Minutes pass, hours. It gets dark. They won’ be feeding us today. The condemned are a waste of food.
— Tadeusz Stabholz, MD