Key Historical Concepts in Holocaust Education: Nazi Camps

The first concentration camps
were constructed in Germany in 1933. They were primarily used to solidify the regime, by using political terror and incarcerating those perceived as dissidents. The working model for these camps was Dachau. After the consolidation of the regime, those perceived as a threat to the Nazi vision, such as “asocials”, were also sent to the camps. At this stage, especially following
the Kristallnacht in 1938, the number of Jewish prisoners
in the camps rose significantly, the majority of whom were exploited for economic purposes – many as forced labor. Due to the significant rise in prisoner count, and the need to exploit the conquered territories – including their manpower the Germans began constructing
many more labor camps, some solely for Jews. During this period, POW camps and other concentration camps were constructed as well. The number of concentration camps constructed in Germany and throughout Europe continued to increase. From this point on, the concentration and labor camps were used for massive and brutal exploitation of prisoner labor, and for implementing the policy
of mass murder of Jews. For this purpose, six extermination camps were constructed and converted from existing camps. Some of them were concentration and extermination camps – such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek and some were exclusively extermination camps – such as Chełmno and Treblinka. In total, tens of thousands of different kinds of camps were constructed, in which millions of people were murdered or died.

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