Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps (in German Konzentrationslager, or KZ) throughout the territories it controlled. The term was borrowed from the British concentration camps of the Second Anglo-Boer War.
The first Nazi concentration camps were hastily erected in Germany in February 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his NSDAP was given control over the police through Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Goring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps held around 45,000 prisoners by 1933 and were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of that year.
Only about 3,000 inmates remained in the camps when in 1934?35 Heinrich Himmler's SS took full control of the police and concentration camps throughout Germany. It was then that Hitler allowed Himmler to start using the camps' facilities and personnel to purge German society of so-called "racially undesirable elements" such as Jews, criminals, homosexuals, and Romani people.
Between 1939 and 1942 during World War II, the number of camps exploded to more than 300, as political prisoners and undesirable elements from across Europe were mass-incarcerated generally without judicial process.
The concentration camps were administered since 1934 by Concentration Camps Inspectorate which in 1942 was merged into SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt and were guarded by SS-Totenkopfverbande.
Holocaust scholars draw a distinction between concentration camps (described in this article) and extermination camps, which were established by the Nazis for the industrial-scale mass murder of the predominantly Jewish ghetto and concentration camp populations.
1 Pre-war camps
2 World War II
4 Types of camps
5 Post-war use
6 See also
9 External links
Pre-war camps The Dachau camp was created for holding political opponents. In time for Christmas 1933 roughly 600 of the inmates were released as part of a pardoning action. The picture above depicts a speech by camp commander Theodor Eicke to prisoners about to be released.Inspection by the Nazi party and Himmler at the Dachau Protective Custody Camp on 8 May 1936.
Use of the word "concentration" came from the idea of using documents confining to one place a group of people who are in some way undesirable. The term itself originated in the "reconcentration camps" set up in Cuba by General Valeriano Weyler in 1897. Concentration camps had in the past been used by the U.S. against Native Americans and by the British in the Second Boer War. Between 1904 and 1908, the Imperial German Army operated both concentration camps and the Shark Island Extermination Camp in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) as part of their genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples.
When the Nazis came to power in Germany, they quickly moved to ruthlessly suppress all real or potential opposition. The general public was intimidated through arbitrary psychological terror of the special courts (Sondergerichte). Especially during the first years of their existence these courts had a strong deterrent effect against any form of political protest.
The first camp in Germany, Dachau, was founded in March 1933. The press announcement said that "the first concentration camp is to be opened in Dachau with an accommodation for 5,000 persons. All Communists and ? where necessary ? Reichsbanner and Social Democratic functionaries who endanger state security are to be concentrated there, as in the long run it is not possible to keep individual functionaries in the state prisons without overburdening these prisons. Dachau was the first regular concentration camp established by the German coalition government of National Socialist Workers' Party (Nazi Party) and the Nationalist People's Party (dissolved on 6 July 1933). Heinrich Himmler, then Chief of Police of Munich, officially described the camp as the first concentration camp for political prisoners.
Dachau served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi concentration camps.