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concentration camps

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


In their original form, these were centers for the internment of civilians who might be supportive of enemy forces. As such, they were used by the Spanish army following the Cuban rebellion of 1895 and by the British in the Boer War of 1899–1902. The term eventually became more generally applied to sites where political dissidents could be imprisoned for punishment by “corrective labor” and torture, or indeed by death from summary execution or other mistreatment. Establishments of that kind were first instituted by the bolsheviks during the russian civil war , before being massively multiplied across the gulag system of the soviet union . It was, however, hitler who made most use of the specific label “concentration camp” (Konzentrationslager , or KZ), which he borrowed deliberately from the British in order to score a propagandist point. The development of these centers within Germany rapidly followed nazism's accession to power in 1933. Hitler's located the first camps in such places as Dachau near Munich and Sachsenhausen close to Berlin, thus registering a very visible warning, especially to left-wing activists, about the price to be paid for opposing him. During the first six years of his regime more than 200,000 Germans were imprisoned (though not always permanently) for political offences. By the later 1930s the internments were extending to those whom the regime ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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