The Holocaust, Nazi Genocide (1933-1945). List of Genocides of the 20th Century
List of Genocides of the 20th Century
Nazi Persecution of the Jews and others
The Nazis came to power in 1933, they believed that they, the Germans, were a superior race and that any other races especially the Jews were inferior races and a threat. The Jews were not the only race to fall victim to the Nazis; the Romani “Gyspies” and Soviet prisoners also fell victim, even special needs individuals and homosexuals were on the Nazi’s death list.
The Jews and others were forced to carry out unpaid labour intensive work through camps and ghettos in Germanyand occupied Europe, synthetic rubber plants, airplane factories, coal mines and other construction and repair work. This forced labour was largely organised by the SS, the Schutzstaffel, "protective echelon" who were the organisation in charge of persecution and extermination.
The camps and ghettos were completely over crowded, beyond unhygienic and men, women and children were kept separate so whole families were torn apart, never knowing what has or will happen to their loved ones.
The concentration camps and labour camps were used for free labour but also with a principle of extermination through labour. There was also extermination camps located ideally outside Germany with the sole principle of execution mainly through gassing.
Below is a list of notable Nazi Concentration, Labour and Execution camps located throughout Europe. Many other camps such a Prison camps and Transit camps existed in European countries as well, with the purpose of detaining and deportation respectively.
Main Concentration Camps per Germany Occupied Territory
Contained: Concentration, Labour, Prison and Transit camps
Opened in 1933, Dachau concentration camp was the first camp opened in Germany. It was located in the town of Dachau in the south of Germany, hence it’s name.
The camp was essentially a prototype for the Nazi camps to come with it simplistic but functional purpose. Before entering the camp the prisoners would have read the words "Arbeit macht frei", meaning "through work one will be free", which were visible on the entrance gate and obviously a lie to subdue the prisoners.
Dachau ran as a concentration camp for 12 years and in that time it recorded 206,206 prisoners and 31,951 deaths, about 10,000 of these are believed to have died in Dachau’s sub camps.
Contained: Concentration, Labour, Extermination and Transit camps
The biggest and most famous of the German concentration camps, Auschwitz, was/is located in the Poland and set up in 1940 where it ran for 5 years. In reality Auschwitz was not just a concentration camp, and wasn’t just one camp, it was separated into three camps, Auschwitz (base camp), Auschwitz 2 (Extermination camp) and Auschwitz 3 (labour camp). Auschwitz also had 45 satellite camps.
Auschwitz was the main destination of many Jews and others with Jews being deported there from Oslo, many parts of France and Belgium, The Netherlands, many parts of Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia (was Czecoslovakia), Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, many parts of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and so on.
It is estimated by historians that the death toll in Auschwitz ranged from 1 to 1.5 with the majority of the people, over 1 million, being Jews.
Contained: Concentration camps and Transit camps
First used in 1943, Herzogenbusch Concentration camp was the only concentration camp directly run by the SS in western Europe, other than in Germany. It was located in the town of Vught in the southern region of the Netherlands and near the town of ‘s Hertogenbosch, where it gets its name from.
This camp was built due to the transit camps of Amersfoort and Westerbork not being capable of processing the vast amounts of Jewish and others.
This camp held about 31 000 prisoners and of which 749 of them died in the camp.
Contained: Labour and Prison camps
Fort Breendonk, originally a fortification to help protect the city of Antwerp against the Germans was, in 1940, converted into a labour and prison camp by the invading Nazis.
In total, about 3500 prisoners were imprisoned at Fort Breendonk, under 600 at a time; of which about 300 either died or were killed.
Fort Breendonk was considered one of the worst camps in Europe due to the gruelling labour involved, but especially the lack of food supplied to the inmates.
The forced labour at the camp consisted of removing the many tonnes of topsoil covering the fort and moving this to the outskirts of the fort to create an earth wall which would hide the fort from view.
Contained: Labour, Extermination, Transit and Prison camps
Set up in 1941, Natzweiler-Struthof, was a Labour and Extermination camp in north eastern France close to the German border. Over the three years of its existence, about 52 000 prisoners were held here and forced to work. The camp’s main purpose was to imprison resistance fighters against Nazi Germany, “Nacht und Nebel” rebels (Night and Fog rebels).
An estimated 25 000 prisoners died in the camp, only some due to execution as the camp didn’t undertake mass execution. Most deaths were due to the lack of food combined with the strenuous forced labour and also medical experiments carried out by Nazis.
Contained: Labour and Prison camps
The Alderney Concentration camps began operation in 1942 on the Island of Alderney, belonging to the Channel Islands. Nazi Germany occupied the British owned Alderney and the Channel Islands during that time.
The camps were used as prison and also labour camps were the forced labour involved the construction of bunkers, shelters, and ammunition storage facilities on the island.
The total prisoner count was around 6000 and of which 700 died. The camp was not officially an extermination camp, but the gruelling labour and lack of food, medicine and proper housing resulted in the deaths.
Today all that is left of the Alderney camps are the bunkers.
Contained: Concentration and Prison camps
Grini concentration camp was one of Norway’s Nazi operated camps which began operating in 1941. It functioned as a concentration and prison camp and was used for detaining political prisoners; Jews of Norway and others.
The total amount of inmates passing through Grini reached 19 247, but only held around 5000 prisoners at once.
It is not known exactly how many people perished at Grini, but amounts of inmates were transferred to other camps including camps in Germany where they more than likely perished.
Contained: Concentration, Labour and Extermination camps
The Sajmište concentration camp, established in 1941, was mainly an extermination camp but also a Labour camp. It was located near Belgrade, now the capital of Serbia.
This camp was the place of extermination for most of Serbia’s Jews with Serbians and Romani people being other victims.
Thousands of men were executed in the Sajmište camp byGerman firing squads and women and children were usually executed by gas. Many others died from the gruelling forced labour in the sometimes freezing climate of Serbia along with the lack of food and hygiene and spread of disease.
Around 8000 Jews were killed at this camp along with 40 000 Serbs.
Contained: Transit, Labour and Extermination camps
Established in 1941, Janowska was a labour, transit and concentration camp in western Poland, now in Ukraine (was Poland at the time). Many Jews who were fit and healthy were kept here for forced labour and any Jew who wasn’t fit for work was transported to Belzec camp in occupied Poland to be executed. If not sent to the Belzec camp, the unfit worker would be shot north of the camp in the Piaski ravine.
Contained: Extermination camps
The Jasenovac camp established in 1941, was the largest extermination camp in Croatia. It was used for ethnic cleansing, extermination, of mainly Serbs but also Jews and Roma people in Croatia.
The death toll of Serbs in Jasenovac is not known but is estimated at around 100, 000. It is also not known exactly how many Jews and Roma people were killed at Jasenovac, but is estimated at roughly 8000 to 25 000 and 20 000 to 50 000 respectively.
Overall about 20 000 children from the three ethnicities died at the camp.
Jasenovic camp has been described as one of the worst and most cruel camps and it is said that it surpassed the cruelty conducted at Auschwitz.
Contained: Labour camps
Kaiserwald concentration camp was built in 1943 near the city of Riga in Latvia. It was used to hold German convicts initially, but also to hold the remaining Latvian Jews of the Latvian Ghettos that were being liquidated.
This camp was a labour camp and the inmates were used for forced labour by German companies.
During the Red Army advances on the camp things changed for the worst, many inmates were killed before the evacuation of the inmates to Poland, anyone who was too weak to travel was shot. Also any Jew convicted of an offence, regardless of how minor, was shot.
Kaiserwald and its subcamps had a total of 11,878 inmates and it’s not known exactly how many perished.
Contained: Concentration, Labour and Transit camps
Established in 1943, Vaivara concentration camp was the largest of Nazi camps in Germany occupied Estonia and was the administrative centre and main camp of 20 other Nazi camps. Vaivara and its subcamps were used as concentration camps to house an estimated 20, 000 Jewish people of the Estonia and other Slavic Ghettos which were being liquidated. Vaivara and its subcamps were also used a forced labour camps for the extraction of oil from shale.
Although this was not officially an extermination camp, any people young or old who were unable to work due to illness or disability were shot in the nearby woods.
In December of 1943, a typhoid epidemic broke out which killed 20 of the population, directly and indirectly.
In 1944 as the Soviets were ranging in on the Vaivara camps, the inmates were marched for 3 days to camps many kilometres away. Some died on the journey from exhaustion and starvation, others were shot by the Nazis through the “Ten Percent Selection”, where 1 in 10 people were shot and others died from attack by Soviet aircraft.
Contained: Labour and Extermination camps
Maly Trastsianiets (Trostenets) extermination camp, built in the summer of 1941 in a small village outside of Minsk in Belarus, was a camp first used to house Soviet prisoners of war, but was later used as an extermination camp for Jews.
The camps main purpose was the extermination of the Jewish population of Minsk and surrounding areas but many Jews from Germany, people from Austria and the Czech Republic area were also killed there.
There are no known survivors of the camp which is not very common. Many estimates of the death toll have been put forward, some say from 200, 000 to 500, 000 and other say around 65, 000.
Contained: Labour camps
Mauthausen Gusen concentration camp comprised of a large group of camps built in North Austria that were established from 1940 onwards.
The camp was one of the largest labour camps in Europe and housed held roughly 85, 000 inmates. Most of the inmates were from educated backgrounds and from a higher social class in countries under the control of Nazi Germany. Including these and others were Nazi opposing Germans, Austrians, communists, homosexuals, and Roma people.
Mauthausen Gusen was classified as a labour camp, its policy was more extermination through labour.
Many companies took full advantage of the slave labour system and they, as well as the camp, made profits excessively exceeding that expected.
As the allied forces began to attack Nazi Germany, a change in the type of labour performed occurred. Inmates began the construction of underground army bunkers and underground facilities to store and produce weapons.
Overall many thousands of inmates entered the camps and of which it is estimated that 122,766 to 320,000 died in the entire complex.
Total Holocaust Death Toll
- A total Death toll for the Holocaust is estimated at 11 million people.
- Jewish people accounted for an estimated 6 million deaths in Nazi occupied Europe.
- Soviet Prisoners of War accounted for approximately 2 to 3 million deaths.
- Polish people accounted for 1.8 to 2 million deaths.
- Romani people accounted for a very rough estimate of deaths, from 220 000 to 1.5 million.
- The disabled accounted for 200 000 to 250 000 deaths.
- Slovenens,Jehovah’s Witnesses and Homosexuals are also among the death toll, ranging in a few thousand each.
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