1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

Video:Nazi Concentration Camps

with Mary Jensen

Nazi concentration and death camps were the infrastructure that allowed the widespread killing of Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. Watch this About.com video to learn more about the history behind the Nazi concentration camps.See Transcript

  • All Videos
  • All Education Videos
  • 20th Century History Videos

Transcript:Nazi Concentration Camps

Hello, I am Mary Jensen I am an AP world history teacher at Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado. I am here with About.com to speak with you about Nazi concentration camps.

What is a Concentration Camp?

The term concentration camp is an umbrella term for the overall detention of prisoners. Under that umbrella term, we can differentiate concentration camps and the six death camps that were established specifically for the killing of primarily Jews, also Roma, also known as Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses people of Slavic origin and homosexuals, and other people deemed unfit for living.

Nazi Ideology Behind Concentration and Death Camps

The Nazi ideology believed that the Jews were an inferior group of people. The ideology was single handedly spelled out by Adolf Hitler. Concentration camps essentially provided slave labor for German militaries and the German industrial complex, where as the death camps were created only for the rapid killing of the detainees.

The six designated death camps were Aushwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, Chelmno and Belznec;all were located in Poland. In 1942, the first stationary gas chambers were installed in these death camps; and it was decided that this could be a more effective, faster, cheaper way to kill people; fewer bullets, and less psychological stress on the German soldiers assigned to the killing.

One of the more notorious aspects of these camps was the medical experimentation. One example of the experiments done on live humans was to strip the person, this was a camp detainee, and plunge him into cold water to see how long he could remain alive.

German Efficiency in the Concentration Camps

When we talk about Nazi concentration camps, specifically death camps, what is remarkable is that there was this industrial prototype that was used, and a formal manner in which people can be killed , or exterminated. The German efficiency and the need for speed is what drove the design of these camps.

Essentially there was no getting out of these camps once they were delivered there by train, with very specific timetables of these trains. The death camps, people were there specifically to be killed as promptly as possible upon arrival. They were escorted after they had disposed of their personal effects, they were told that they would be given a shower. Zyclon B, a poisonous gas, was very effective at killing people.

Aftermath of the Nazi Camps

At a peak in Aushwitz, which was the single biggest complex, about twenty thousand people a day were being gassed, and an attempt to get rid of the bodies, was by burning them. Ultimately the death camps succeeded in their mission to some degree according to the Nazi program of overwhelming number of deaths.

At the end of the war, in terms of the Nuremberg Trials, the American government and it's allies could only go so far in prosecuting people responsible for this; and there was a collective decision to only attempt to seek justice from the people at the top echelon of the Nazi party.

Thanks you so much for watching. For more information about history, please visit About.com.

About videos are made available on an "as is" basis, subject to the User Agreement.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.