Concentration camps were a large part of the Holocaust. Although this general term is used to refer to the camps set up in Germany where Jews and other 'inferiors' were taken for imprisonment and death, there were actually many different kinds of camps that were built during the Holocaust era. Labor camps existed where inferiors were forced into slave labor, starved, and tortured. There were also transit camps for those being shuttled between various other camps. There were prisoner-of-war camps for war criminals and other prisoners that were against the German military, and extermination, or death, camps that were built specifically as a place to take people to die.
Most of the prisoners that were held in concentration camps between 1933 and 1938 were actually political prisoners. These included anyone who spoke out against the Nazi party or Hitler himself. As the discrimination against Jews became more organized in 1938, Nazis began taking Jews and other inferiors to these camps. Prisoners were tortured, forced to work in slave labor, sleep in small spaces, starved for food, used for medical experiments, and held against their will. They were also killed, often for no reason and in mass executions.
There were six extermination camps that were created by the Nazis, which are some of the most popular concentration camps that people speak of today:
When prisoners were taken to these camps, they usually knew they were being taken to their death. Upon arrival at extermination camps, it was common practice to order prisoners to remove their clothing and head to the "shower". The shower was actually a gas chamber, where Jews were locked inside and suffocated with toxic gases until they died.
Auschwitz was the largest of the concentration camps, and today remains the most famous. This camp was home to some of the most famous survivor and hero stories from World War II and the Holocaust, as well as some of the biggest tragedies. There were an estimated 1.1 million 'inferiors' killed at Auschwitz alone. While the Nazis attempted to make Auschwitz 'disappear' before the Allied forces moved in, there were a few survivors that made it out and lived to tell their story.
Concentration camps were generally thought to be the end of the line for Jews and other inferiors. If they weren't brought immediately to die, they were killed through work, medical experimentation, torture, starvation, exposure, disease, or in time by gas, cremation, or execution-style shootings. These camps are the most harrowing part of the entire Holocaust for most people because of the sheer bloodshed and lack of humanity that existed within them.