Concentration Camp Life
Types of Camps
There were 3 types of camps; Death camps, Forced Labor camps, and Transit camps. Many of the camps had multiple purposes and weren't placed in just one category. Some well known camps were Auschwitz, Belzec, Bergen- Belsen, Dachau, and Westerbork.
Before gas chambers were invented, Jews would be sent to camps like Chelmno - the first death camp established by Germans - and would be tricked into gas vans. Gas vans' exhaust pipes were actually connected to the inside, so it would kill all passengers while Nazis drove the van to a grave site. In 1943 the gas chambers and cremation centers were built in camps so that the Nazis could hide evidence of the mass murders. They would pick up Jews from the ghettos and drive them straight from there to the camp; where they went straight into the chambers. About 1,700,000 Jews were killed in camps such as Auschwitz, Chelmno, and Majdanek.
Forced Labor Camps
Most of these camps forced the Jews to do pointless jobs that were painful and humiliating. They weren't given proper equipment and it was torture. The Nazis forces labor on the Jews before concentration camps were even established. They worked unpaid because they were "enemies of the state." They were tricked into thinking working could save their lives- those who were unable to work were killed or deported. The camps gave Jews jobs which deliberately lead to death. They would work without proper clothing and equipment so that they caught illnesses and injuries. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "At the Mauthausen concentration camp, prisoners were forced to run up 186 out of a stone quarry while carrying heavy boulders." The Nazis also did not provide prisoners with enough food or any medical care.
Jews were imprisoned in transit camps before they were sent to Concentration camps. Westerbork was a camp in the Netherlands and it was made to hold all of the refugee Jews who were in the country illegally. The Jewish council would make a list of 1,000 people to be sent away to a camp when the trains reached the transit. On the trains there was one bucket of water and one empty bucket to use as a toilet per train car. 100,000 jews passed through this camp. Less than 5,000 even survived. Those who weren't on a train were being worked on the camp.