In addition to serving as detention centers for persons deemed to be of danger to the Reich, the concentration camp system served two other key purposes of the Nazi regime. First, corresponding to a close relationship between the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps and the business and administrative offices of the SS, the camps were to be the source of inexpensive forced labor for SS-owned or operated businesses.
After and well into World War II, concentration camp labor was deployed in producing construction materials for actual SS-managed construction projects including the expansion of existing camps and the construction of new camps.
The Holocaust year by year
Farben synthetic fuel and rubber plants established in in Monowitz in Upper Silesia, near the Auschwitz concentration camp. After the incorporation of the camps into the WVHA in , the SS increasingly engaged concentration camp prisoners in producing for the German war effort, deploying them, still under SS guard, to German state-owned firms and private firms, which compensated the SS for the increasingly scarce labor.
The concentration camps, standing outside the reach of the German justice authorities, had always been places where the SS could kill prisoners. After the beginning of the war, however, the camps increasingly became sites for the systematic murder of individuals or small groups of persons.
Such prisoners, like the European Jews who were murdered upon arrival in the gas chambers at the killing centers , were never officially registered as prisoners, but were killed usually within 24 hours of arrival. Recognizing the increasing numbers of these small-scale killing operations and because they needed an efficient way to kill prisoners who had become too weak to work, the SS authorities equipped several concentration camps with gas chambers during As the need for prisoner labor increased, especially after the beginning of World War II, the SS authorities in these major camps established satellite camps.
Buchenwald, for example, had 88 satellite camps, or subcamps, by the end of war in Some satellite camps, like Gross-Rosen and Neuengamme , both subcamps of Sachsenhausen, grew so large that they became concentration camps in their own right. Most prisoners in the early concentration camps represented real or perceived political opponents of the regime.
However, as time went on, the prisoner population expanded to include ideological and religious dissenters, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and dissident members of the clergy.
Habitual criminals were also incarcerated in concentration camps beginning in the s, often after they had served their legitimate sentences in prison. The particularly brutal treatment of Jews in the concentration camps served as further impetus for German and Austrian Jews to emigrate. The outbreak and expansion of war radically altered the makeup and composition of the concentration camp system. The camp population expanded dramatically with the arrival of foreign forced laborers, foreign political opponents and resistance fighters, and prisoners of war. Before the general deportation of Jews out of the so-called Greater German Reich began in October , the burgeoning prisoner population of many concentration camps on German soil inspired some of the initial prisoner selections.
SS doctors and so-called euthanasia functionaries conducted these selections.
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Experiments to test pharmaceuticals and medical treatments, formulate rescue and survival strategies for Axis troops in the field, devise efficient and economic methods of mass sterilization, and underpin Nazi racial and antisemitic theories claimed the health and lives of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. One of the most significant events to alter the makeup of the concentration camp system was the decision to deport and systematically murder the European Jews.
To facilitate this "Final Solution" the physical annihilation of the Jews , SS and police officials established four killing centers in German-occupied Poland exclusively for this purpose: Chelmno , Belzec , Sobibor , and Treblinka. The SS and police staff at each of these camps used carbon monoxide gas to murder Jews in large numbers. It housed at least two dozen machines, mainly controlled by the SS. The foreboding concrete Hollerith blockhouse, constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, was designed to withstand the most intense Allied aerial bombardment.
Those familiar with Nazi bomb-proof shelters will recognize the advanced square-cornered pillbox design reserved for the Reich's most precious buildings and operations.
IBM equipment was among the Reich's most important weapons, not only in its war against the Jews, but in its general military campaigns and control of railway traffic. Such costs cut into IBM's profit margin. Watson's approval was required because he received a one-percent commission on all Nazi business profits. Two telling U. The first is a State Department memo, dated December 3, , just four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and as the Nazis were being openly accused of genocide in Europe. On that day in , IBM's top attorney, Harrison Chauncey, visited the State Department to express qualms about the company's extensive involvement with Hitler.
The State Department memo recorded that Chauncey feared "that his company may some day be blamed for cooperating with the Germans. The second is a Justice Department memo generated during a federal investigation of IBM for trading with the enemy. Economic Warfare Section chief investigator Howard J. Carter prepared the memo for his supervisors describing the company's collusion with the Hitler regime.
Carter wrote: " What Hitler has done to us through his economic warfare, one of our own American corporations has also done Hence IBM is in a class with the Nazis. At a time when the Watson name and the IBM image is being laundered by whiz computers that can answer questions on TV game shows, it is important to remember that Thomas Watson and his corporate behemoth were guilty of genocide. The Treaty on Genocide, Article 2, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.
International Business Machines, and its president Thomas J. Watson, committed genocide by any standard.
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It was never about the antisemitism. It was never about the National Socialism. It was always about the money. Business was their middle name.
Human Rights Quarterly
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The significance of the incriminating documents requires context. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. Millions of people were imprisoned, abused and systematically murdered in the various types of Nazi camps.
Under SS management, the Germans and their collaborators murdered more than three million Jews in the killing centers alone. Only a small fraction of those imprisoned in Nazi camps survived. As many as million people may have died in the various camps and ghettoes.
[Medicine in the concentration camps of the Third Reich].
Sources: U. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library. Eisenhower Discusses Atrocities at Press Conference. Full Listing of Camps. How Many Camps? Visiting the Camps. What are Camps? Jewish Resistance. Camps in Europe. Camps in Germany.