Don't Concentrate on Camps A concentration camp can be defined as a camp were particular people are confined or detained for a period of time, although ironically the term death camp is commonly used as a synonym. Between the years of 1942 and 1945 the German Nazi Party initiated concentration camps for all Jews and other peoples that were considered by Adolf Hitler to be inferior. This is a commonly known fact, although extensive knowledge is limited to most people. The majority of concentration camps established have been used for the containing and eventual extermination of its prisoners. Camps have been located all over the world for many different reasons. Survivors (though rare) do exist and always have gruesome, life altering stories kept away in there souls.
Undoubtedly Auschwitz in Poland is the most well known camp, but the future existence of concentration camps in the United States has even been discussed. Although one of the first uses of concentration camps was by Britain in 1899 against the Boere volk people, Adolf Hitler took them to extreme during World War II (Berwick 85). The first concentration camps of the 1930's were simply meant to hold political enemy's of the Nazi state such as Communists and Socialists, but eventually, bigger camps were created for the extermination of inferior groups and races (Swiebocka 1). The original intention of concentration camps was not specifically to murder mass numbers of people although that was though of as a plus side.
In his raging insanity Adolf Hitler molded the concept of concentration camps from containment to extermination. Hitler located his primary concentration extermination camps in Poland focusing on six main camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek-Lublin, Sobibor, and Treblinka (Sheehan 6). In these camps alone over 2, 700, 000 Jews were murdered, along with tens of thousands of Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, and others (Sheehan 7). The prisoners in these camps died from many different causes. Some simply died from starvation and illness, others were told to "dig a hole" and then when they finished were shot only to fall inside there own grave. Most were sent to gas chambers to be chemically destroyed.
Nazi guards would give the prisoners a small piece of soap and tell them to go into a designated room and "shower." They would then tightly pack as many people as possible into the chamber, close the door, and 30 minutes later toss all the dead bodies into a pile to be cremated, over 8, 000 people were killed a day in some camps (Knight 1). The horrific conditions of these camps can be compared to absolutely nothing today, only a survivor of the Holocaust could fully understand this massacre. "As I walk to the gate, I have the same fear as I had 50 years ago", this statement came from Elie Wiesel an Auschwitz-Birkenau Holocaust survivor (Bajak 1). At the 50 th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of Auschwitz, survivor Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, reentered the gates of his potential grave site only to say, "It is in me, it is still the same fear" (Bajak 1). Of the 9, 500, 000 Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries, an estimated 5, 596, 049 million died as a result of the holocaust and its concentration extermination camps (Sheehan 17).
This means that only 3, 903, 951 Jews survived World War II, approximately two-thirds of the Jewish race was obliterated. "Elane Norych Geller was 9 years old when Bergen-Belsen was liberated by troops from the British Seventh Army on April 15, 1945 - just a child who had already seen the darkest side of human nature" (Knight 1). Elane Geller, a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the same camp where Anne Frank died, is now a lecturer for the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles. (Knight 1) She wants people to understand that the Holocaust was carried out in a modern country by everyday people. Citizens of Germany who on their off day's would teach their kids to ride a bike, where designing gas chambers and crematories to kill millions of people. Geller feels that it is important for people to know that these vicious acts were committed in the light of day, not "in a dark country by evil looking people" (Knight 1).
Most of the concentration camps ended with half or more of its inhabitants surviving, but perhaps the most deadly camp was Auschwitz. After the occupation of Poland by the Third Reich, the name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz by the Germans, and became the name of the camp as well (Berwick 91). The Auschwitz concentration extermination camp was the largest, deadliest, and by far the most well known camp today. Over the years, the camp was expanded and consisted of three main parts: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz. It also had over 40 sub-camps (Swiebocka 1) Auschwitz has become a symbol oh terror, genocide, and of the Holocaust to the entire world.
In comparison, Auschwitz and any other concentration camp are like state and federal prison. A criminal can only hope to go to federal prison over state prison if he is destined to serve time. Just as a Jew or a Gypsy would fear Auschwitz over any other concentration camp, though all camps were deadly. It is estimated that nearly 1, 500, 000 people alone died in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the majority in gas chambers (Swiebocka 2). During the three years of Auschwitz's exterminations Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were receiving information about Hitler's plan to wipe the Jew's off the face of this earth.
They were also urged to bomb the camp of Auschwitz as some sort of saving method, but Roosevelt made it clear that bombing the camp would not have done any good. The Nazis would have simply rebuilt in a different location and used other means of swiftly killing off the Jews. Although survivor Elie Wiesel wishes that the Americans had bombed Auschwitz, noting that he and his inmates "were no longer afraid of death" (Be schloss 38). Ironically just fifty some years after Americas opposing experience with concentration camps, the thought of establishing U.
S. camps was announced. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in 2002 his desire for camps for U. S.
citizens he deems to be "enemy combatants" (American 1). This means that he would have the power to imprison U. S. citizens, strip them of there constitutional rights, and their access to the courts by simply declaring them enemy combatants or dangerous threats to America. This thought absolutely flabbergasted congress; never could they have imagined allowing such acts of unrighteousness occur. Although, under the knowledge of the government there are over 600 prison camps in the United States, all fully operational and ready to receive prisoners.
They are all staffed and even surrounded by full-time guards, but they are all empty. (American 2) These camps are in place incase a mass number of illegal aliens decide to cross the U. S. /Mexico border, they would immediately be under containment. Supposedly there intention is strictly precautionary, but could the United States actually be considering using them in the future? After all, the government has showed in the past its ability to imprison a group of peoples. During World War II the United States Government demanded that all Japanese Americans be put into concentration camps for holding until the end of the war.
They did not intend to kill anyone, although some did die, the U. S. was simply attempting to protect itself against any further Japanese attacks. Concentration camps were used then, and if necessary they could be used again.
The origin of concentration camps was simply to hold a group of dangerous peoples. Adolf Hitler obliterated this idea and created his own version of concentration camps to exterminate the Jews and all other inferior people. Auschwitz will remain in infamy as the most horrifying place on earth, and its survivors will forever be scarred. Unfortunately the future might hold concentration camps for American again if it becomes necessary, but honestly, the world will be a better place when concentration upon camps desists forever..