Holocaust Camps – Nazi Camps under Hitler's Rule
Though only a few concentration camps are well-known and recognized by name, there were approximately 200,000 different camps that were used during the Holocaust. There were three main types of camps. Labor camps were the most common. These were established to facilitate forced labor from the prisoners. Death camps were not as common. However, the distinction between labor camps and death camps is not meant to indicate that laborers would frequently survive. Death was common for prisoners in all Holocaust camps. In addition to labor and death camps, transit camps were also established to move prisoners from one location to another.
Holocaust camps contained Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, socialists, communists, social democrats, and anyone else who was considered a threat to the Nazi party and its goals. Life in the labor camps was horrendous. Prisoners lived in cramped barracks and slept on what was little more than a wooden shelf. Hygiene was virtually nonexistent, with thousands of prisoners attempting to wash up in dirty water. Daily rations would typically consist of watery coffee or tea for breakfast, soup for lunch, and black bread with margarine or marmalade for dinner. A small piece of cheese or sausage might also be included.
The rations in labor caps were so meager that prisoners often died of starvation alone. The poor living conditions also made disease very common. Nazis were exceedingly cruel to the prisoners and would often beat and torture them for no reason. Prisoners could be hanged for arriving to role call late in the morning. Others might be killed for sport. Escaping the death camps in no way meant survival. For many, it simply meant a longer period of torture before death finally came. When the Holocaust camps were liberated, many prisoners were so emaciated and sick that they couldn’t be saved.
Those who were too sick or weak to work were typically sent to the death camps. Here, they would be instructed to shower. The shower chambers were actually gas chambers where prisoners were killed with Zyklon-B gas. Early in the Holocaust, prisoners were buried in mass graves. When this began to foul the groundwater, large crematoriums were built to dispose of the bodies. Holocaust camps were built for death, no matter how it came. When these camps were liberated, the Allies found entire storehouses filled with hair, clothing, dentures, prosthesis, and glasses from the victims. In all, about 11 million people perished during the Holocaust.