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Concentration Camp

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The term 'Concentration Camp' was used by the British Army during the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

Concentration Camp

British Camps and the Boer War

The English term "concentration camp" grew in prominence during the Second Boer War (1899–1902), when they were operated by the British in South Africa.[5][6]

There were a total of 45 tented camps built for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.

However, in the 18th Century, the tactic of concentrating groups awaiting deportation had been used in Poland. In addition it is believed that the British borrowed the term from a Spanish general who set up camps to hold suspected rebel sympathisers in Cuba in 1897.

Use of the word concentration comes from the idea of concentrating a group of people, who are in some way undesirable, in one place, where they can be watched. For example, in a time of insurgency, potential supporters of the insurgents may be placed where they cannot provide supplies or information.

Since the Second World War, all previous usage has been eclipsed by the use in the Third Reich of 'Konzentrationslaager' - what most non-historians today would refer to mentally when the term is used.

Concentration Camps operated by Nazi Germany 1933 - 1945

The Nazis used labour camps and concentration camps for three ends:

  • To hold, 're-educate', or dispose of enemies of the regime and increasingly those they regarded as Untermensch; Communists, Sociaists, Trades Unionists, Liberal Democrats, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, Plymouth Brethren, Hunt Saboteurs, gays, Catholic clergy (whether straight or gay) and lay, Protestants, Animists, Gypsies, the sick, the lame and Liverpool supporters.
  • As a threat to be used against both the German people and civilians in Occupied Territories. The camps were not in the main, hidden in far-flung corners of the Greater Reich: Dachau sits just outside Munich ,and Bergen-Belsen Camp nestled in a quiet piece of forest twenty minutes North East of Hannover. 30,000 French people, some resistants others not, and over 100,000 Soviet POWs died there, in addition to the Jewish prisoners who passed through. The camps were a whisper of terror under the Occupation of 'Nacht und Fracht' by which your neighbour simply disappeared after being overheard by that witch at No37 saying, 'this fish is good enough for Adolf '
  • Lastly, to implement the post 1941 Nazi Final Solution - 'Endlosung' - the industrial scale eradication from Europe of the Jewish race. By 1944 there were 13 main concentration camps and over 500 satellite camps. In an attempt to increase war-production, inmates were used as cheap-labour. The Schutzstaffel (SS) charged industrial companies around 6 marks for each prisoner working a twelve-hour day.


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