"the stacked wooden bunks, the piles of hair and glasses"

Prisoners in the camps were housed in barracks, and it was common for three or four adults to share one bunk. They were made of slatted wood, and would sometimes have a thin straw mattress.  Several hundred prisoners would sleep together in one building, which explains how diseases such as typhus were able to spread so quickly.

 

Prisoners' Glasses, Auschwitz
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePrisoners' Glasses, Auschwitz - Credit: German Federal Archive
When inmates arrived at the camps, they would be stripped of all personal belongings.  This included glasses, shoes, clothing, suitcases, artificial limbs, and hair, which was shaven from heads.  At many sites of education and remembrance, these objects are exhibited in an attempt to demonstrate the scale and cruelty of the treatment received by prisoners.  Whilst consciously viewing these items can be a powerful and upsetting experience, some critics have argued that as images they become so iconic that they lose emotional resonance.