Each concentration camp prisoner was assigned a number, known as their prisoner number, when they arrived at a camp. In the concentration camps, these numbers were more important than the prisoners’ names. During roll call, for example, prisoners had to report with their number instead of their given name. Sometimes the same number was assigned multiple times in the camps – after large numbers of prisoners had been released or transferred, for example, or when prisoners died. Furthermore, prisoners almost always received a new number when they were transferred to a different camp. An early overview of the prisoner numbers from 14 concentration camps can be found here.

On the number cards of the female prisoners of the sub-camps the numbers were written right in the middle of the card. If the number changed, the old number was crossed out and the new one was written next to it. The number that is crossed out is usually an earlier Ravensbrück number. After the former sub-camps of Ravensbrück were placed under the administration of Buchenwald, the women were given new numbers. Each sub-camp was allocated a block of numbers so that the prisoners there would receive sequential numbers.