Concentration Camps

By: Katie Blades

Concentration Camps

Concentration camps refer to camps where people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions. In the 1940’s the Holocaust took place, concentration camps were very common during this time. In the Holocaust a total of six million Jews died, three million Jews died alone in concentration camps. Concentration camps became a feared topic of the 1940’s. No one really knew what exactly happened in concentration camps. On the other hand, many scientists have a little bit of knowledge of a few acts that took place in the camps.

Medical Experiments

Experimenting in concentration camps were a problem. Many died or were seriously injured due to medical experiments. These experiments were forced onto prisoners against their will. The experiments were separated into categories, and some experiments were only tested at certain camps. One category was experiments based on learning the survival of Axis (The group of Japan, Germany, and Italy in the 1940’s) military personnel. The experiments ruled out here were based on the survival of the military, experiments like freezing prisoners to find a cure to hypothermia and using prisoners to find how to make seawater potable were made with this category. The second category was used to find treatment for injuries and illnesses that German military and occupation personnel encountered. German military and occupation personnel would get these illnesses on the field. Scientist would test the prisoners by using medicines that would be able to help sicknesses that were highly contagious including yellow fever, infectious hepatitis, and typhus. Lastly, experiments in the third category were used to advance the racial and ideological tenets of the Nazi worldview. Some experiments in this category were conducted to see how different races dealt with illness. Josef Mengele was a famous scientist for these experiments, he directed serological experiments on different races to examine how differently they withstood contagious diseases. Many of these experiments led to serious injury and permanent damage to the prisoner.

Forced Labor

Even before the war began Jews were forced by the Nazis into unpaid labor. When the war started, the number of forced laborers began to grow, more than fourteen million people were sent to Germany for forced labor. In 1939 when Germany conquered Poland, they established the General government. This made it so all Polish and Jewish males were put into forced labor. In Concentration camps prisoners that were physically unable to work were the first to be shot or deported. The Nazis also used a policy of "annihilation through work," under which certain categories of prisoners were literally worked to death. In this policy, prisoners were forced to work under conditions that would directly and deliberately lead to illness, injury, and death. For example, at the Mauthausen concentration camp, prisoners were forced to run up one hundred eighty six steps out of a stone quarry while carrying heavy boulders. The condition for the forced laborers were unhealthy and awful.

Killing Methods

With the many invasions of Germany, about eleven million people died in concentration camps alone. Some died from illness while some died from forced labor. The killing was consistent and very cruel. In the camps they had they had three main methods. The first method is gas chambers. Gas chambers were the most common method for killing the prisoners. The prisoners were lead into chamber, where they would close the doors and release gas into the chamber killing everyone in the room. Another method was gassing trucks. Jews were put into trucks, they then would be suffocated by the exhaust fumes. The final method was mass shootings. This was the simplest method, Jews would be put into a group and guards would shoot at the large groups. Many of the methods used in concentration camps were and still are very scary to think about.


Only a few things were listed, although no one knows exactly what happened during the holocaust in concentration camps, we have the knowledge to know a few of the terrible things the Nazi’s did to Jews.