extermination camp

▪ Nazi concentration camp
German  Vernichtungslager 

      Nazi (Nazi Party) German concentration camp that specialized in the mass annihilation (Vernichtung) of unwanted persons in the Third Reich and conquered territories. The camps' victims were mostly Jews but also included Roma (Rom) (Gypsies), Slavs, alleged mental defectives, and others. The extermination camps played a central role in the Holocaust.

      The major camps were in German-occupied Poland and included Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka. At its peak, Auschwitz, the most notorious of the camps, housed 100,000 persons. Its poison-gas chambers could accommodate 2,000 at one time, and 12,000 could be gassed and incinerated each day. Prisoners who were deemed able-bodied were initially used in forced-labour battalions or in the tasks of genocide until they were virtually worked to death and then exterminated.

      The creation of these death camps represented a shift in Nazi policy. Beginning in June 1941 with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Jews in the newly conquered areas were rounded up and taken to nearby execution sites, such as Baby Yar, in Ukraine, and killed. Initially, mobile killing units were used. This process was disquieting to local populations and also difficult for the units to sustain. The idea of the extermination camp was to reverse the process and have mobile victims—transported by rail to the camps—and stationary killing centres where large numbers of victims could be murdered by a greatly reduced number of personnel. For example, the staff of Treblinka was 120, with only 20–30 personnel belonging to the SS, the Nazi paramilitary corps. The staff of Belzec was 104, with about 20 SS personnel.

      Killing at each of the centres was by poison gas. Chelmno, the first of the extermination camps, where gassing began on December 8, 1941, employed gas vans whose carbon-monoxide exhaust asphyxiated passengers. Auschwitz, the largest and most lethal of the camps, used Zyklon-B.

      Majdanek and Auschwitz were also slave-labour centres, while Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor were devoted solely to killing. The Nazis murdered between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people at Auschwitz, 750,000–900,000 at Treblinka, and at least 600,000 at Belzec during its 10 months of operation. The overwhelming majority of the victims were Jews. Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec were closed in 1943, their task completed as the ghettos (ghetto) of Poland were emptied and their Jews killed. Auschwitz continued to receive victims from throughout Europe until Soviet troops approached in 1945.

Michael Berenbaum
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • extermination camp — extermination camp, a concentration camp, especially one established by the Nazis in various European countries for the mass destruction of prisoners in gas chambers and crematories; death camp …   Useful english dictionary

  • Extermination camp — The Holocaust: Nazi German extermination and concentration camps in occupied Poland. Extermination camps (or death camps) were camps built by Nazi Germany during the Second World War (1939–45) to systematically kill millions by gassing and… …   Wikipedia

  • Treblinka extermination camp — Treblinka redirects here. For the town, see Treblinka, Masovian Voivodeship. Or see Treblinka (disambiguation) Treblinka Extermination camp Symbolic concrete blocks mark the path of the former railway line at Treblinka …   Wikipedia

  • Bełżec extermination camp — Belzec redirects here. For the nearby town, see Bełżec. Bełżec Extermination camp Belzec extermination camp memorial …   Wikipedia

  • Sobibor extermination camp — Sobibor redirects here. For the nearby town, see Sobibór. Sobibor Extermination camp Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland (marked with black and white skulls) …   Wikipedia

  • Chełmno extermination camp — Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland (marked with black and white skulls) …   Wikipedia

  • Belzec extermination camp — Belzec (Bełżec, approximate Polish pronunciation bew zhets ) was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust. Operating in 1942, the camp was situated in occupied Poland about… …   Wikipedia

  • Maly Trostenets extermination camp — Coordinates: 53°51′04″N 27°42′17″E / 53.85111°N 27.70472°E / 53.85111; 27.70472 …   Wikipedia

  • Chelmno extermination camp — Chełmno extermination camp (German name Kulmhof ) was an extermination camp of Nazi Germany that was situated 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Łódź, near a small village called Chełmno nad Nerem ( Kulmhof an der Neihr , in German). This was in a part… …   Wikipedia

  • camp — [ kɑ̃ ] n. m. • fin XVe lit de can; forme normanno picarde ou provenç. de champ; lat. campus I ♦ 1 ♦ Zone provisoirement ou en permanence réservée pour les rassemblements de troupes de toutes armes, soit pour des manœuvres, des exercices (camp d… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.