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The difference between concentration camps and extermination camps
Concentration camps and extermination camps belonged to two widely different camp systems:
The concentration camps formed an important part of the Nazi regime’s systematic suppression of Jews, gypsies, political dissident, homosexuals and other groups that were viewed as socially and racially “undesirable” in the Nazi state.
Unlike the concentration camps, six extermination camps were established between 1941 and 1943 with only one purpose: to exterminate the Jews. A total of three million Jews were murdered in these camps.
“Pure" extermination camps: Chelmno and the Operation Reinhard camps.
Four camps, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka (the Operation Reinhard camps) and Chelmno were all “pure” extermination facilities. Only a few hundred Jews survived their encounter with these four extermination camps.
Combined camps: Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek
Both of these camps were originally concentration camps. In time, however, they were included in the organised mass murder of the Jews, following the construction of gas chambers. Only one in every fourth of the Jews that arrived in these camps was selected for forced labour – the rest were gassed to death immediately upon arrival.
© 2002 by Peter Vogelsang & Brian B. M. Larsen. All rights reserved