What is a Kapo?

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dkgarran's profile pic

dkgarran | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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A kapo was a prisoner in the concentration camps who was given some menial administrative tasks. Some took advantage of their power and brutalized their fellow prisoners as badly as the Nazis did. However, some used their power to spare others or ease their suffering. Failure to do what the Nazis asked of them often resulted in their deaths.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

A Kapo was a concentration camp prisoner who cooperated with the Nazis to act as a police officer inside the camp. Even though they were prisoners themselves, they were given more food and were not tortured like the other people in the camps. So perhaps to keep their "privileged" positions, Kapos were notoriously brutal and often would beat the other prisoners for the smallest reason. Wiesel's father was beaten just because he asked permission to go to the toilet. Not all Kapos were evil, however. Wiesel tells of one who was executed because he had been hiding weapons for a prison resistance movement.  


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