Nazi Germany established about 20,000 concentration camps between the year 1933 and 1945 to imprison millions of detainees. These camps can be categorized as: forced labor camps, transit camps and extermination camps. Transit camps were temporally stations for detainees in transit while extermination camps served as mass murder camps. These concentration camps were made for German communists, socialists, social democrats, Gypsies, Jehovah's witnesses, homosexuals as well as people with socially deviant behavior (sender 10).
Labor camps: labor formed a very central part in the existence of the prisoners. According to the Nazis, labor served as punishment as well as a means of instilling discipline and socially acceptable behavior especially to those who were viewed as suitable to exist in Germany society as citizens or as foreign workers. Later on though, the Nazis started viewing the detainees as a source of cheap labor for construction and resettlement programs (sender 20).
The transit camps on the other hand served as collection points especially for the Jews. Such transit camps included all the Eastern European ghettos. Sender explains that there is a lot of cruelty in the ghetto as well as little food, fuel and constant fear of being deported to labor camps. She actually claims that her mother gets deported leaving her the custodian of her siblings. when the Jews arrived in the transit camps, the were separated , with those healthy being preserved to work and the others being send to the gas chambers to be gassed to death (sender 35).
The extermination camps differed from the rest in the sense that they were not necessarily concentration camps. Extermination camps included the Aktion Reinhard camps, and Chelmno camps. These camps basically served as death camps (sender 40).
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These concentration camps also differed depending on the period they existed. For instance, the camps which existed between 1933 and 1936 were not very brutal. They contained bearable work, food and housing. The prisoners were not also held for long. In fact, they were set free after a year. These camps were primarily made for detaining political opponents to the Nazi party. At the end of 1933, such camps were used for asocial people like beggars, tramps and chronic criminals (sender 70). Between 1936 and 1942, all the previous camps were shut down with an exception of Dachau. Newer camps with a larger capacity were established to hold the growing number of detainees. Majority of the detainees during this period were Jews who were detained for the simple reason of being Jews. Towards the end of this second period, death camps were set up in line with the Nazi extermination policy. This period was the most brutal period as prisoners were exploited as forced laborers in the industries and killed in gas chambers.
The prisoners were subjected harsh working conditions, malnutrition and overcrowding (sender 100).
The third period began in 1942. This period saw a slight improvement in the living conditions of the prisoners as they were now being viewed as capable of giving productive results in the industrial sector (sender 110).
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