Concentration Camp, a place where a large number of political prisoners or a certain population group is held. Although the term is mainly associated with those of Nazi Germany, concentration camps have also been maintained by other countries. The Spanish in Cuba in the 1890's and the British in South Africa during the Boer War (1899–1902) herded large numbers of civilians into camps to pacify the countryside in their fight against guerrillas. In the United States during World War II, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans were held in relocation centers, which many critics likened to concentration camps. In the Soviet Union during the rule of Joseph Stalin, millions of persons were held in camps for use as slave labor.
Germany's Nazi regime began building concentration camps for detention of political enemies in 1933. Soon prisoners were being used for slave labor. By 1942 the camps had become centers for the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, and others deemed undesirable by the regime. It is believed that more than 11 million persons were killed in the camps, usually with machine guns or in gas chambers, and that many more died from starvation, disease, and overwork and as a result of being used for medical and scientific experiments.
Of the hundreds of Nazi camps, the most notorious were:
(1940–45), near Kraków, Poland. The Auschwitz half of the complex was used to house slave laborers; Birkenau was used to exterminate unwanted prisoners. Most of the estimated one-and-a-half million killed were Jews.
(1943–45), north of Hannover. From 50,000 to 70,000 Jews were murdered in this camp. Anne Frank, a German-Jewish girl who wrote a diary of her experiences before her capture, died here in 1945.
(1937–45), near Weimar. Some 60,000 persons from 18 nations died here.
(1941–44), near Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was one of the most notorious extermination centers. Victims numbered 340,000 Jews from Poland and 20,000 from other countries.
(1933–45), near Munich. This camp served as a "model" for later ones that were built. About 27,800 persons were killed here.
(1941–44), near Lublin, Poland. Some 250,000 Jews were murdered here.
(1938–45), near Linz, Austria. Of the 200,000 inmates that perished, half were Jews.
(1939–45), north of Berlin. In this all-women's camp, some 92,000 persons were killed. Many inmates were used for sadistic medical experiments.
(1936–45), near Berlin. Some 100,000 persons were killed.
(1942–43), near Warsaw, Poland. Some 800,000 Jews were murdered here. The Nazis closed the camp following a revolt by the inmates.