Concentration camps

As early as 1933, concentration camps were established to contain those deemed “enemies of the state”. Most prisoners of early concentration camps were political prisoners: Communists, Socialists, and Social Democrats. Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of “asocial” or socially deviant behavior were also imprisoned. 

During the Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) pogroms on November 9-10, 1938, Nazis arrested Jewish men en masse for the first time because they were Jews. Over 30,000 German Jews were put in the Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps in Germany. At this time, they were released when they could provide proof of their ability to emigrate.

Starting in 1941, the Nazis began to implement “The Final Solution.” This is short for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” This was when Nazi policy said that, instead of forced emigration, the way to get rid of Jews was through mass murder. The camp system became a key piece of this killing operation. Killing Centers were established in Nazi-occupied Poland: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. In other camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, Nazis established killing centers within the larger camp complex.

Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators established more than 44,000 labor camps and incarceration sites. Millions of people were imprisoned, mistreated, and murdered in the various types of Nazi camps. Under SS management, more than three million Jews were murdered in the killing centers alone. Only a small fraction of those imprisoned in Nazi camps survived.

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