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10 of the Worst Nazi Concentration Camps

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10 of the Worst Nazi Concentration Camps

With the President’s recent faux-pas concerning Nazi concentration camps, these horrific places are once again in the news.

Many Nazi concentration camps were located in Poland, but to call them “Polish death camps” is an error that the President of the United States should have known not to make. These Nazi-run camps were designed as prisons, labor camps, death camps, and human experiment laboratories.

Not every concentration camp was considered a death camp, meaning that not all were specifically designed and built to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews and other “undesirables,” but every camp was riddled with death and disease.

Below is a list of some of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps.

The 10 Worst Nazi Concentration Camps of WWII

1. Auschwitz-Birkenau. Also known as Auschwitz I and II, these camps are probably the most infamous camps of World War II. The complex was made up three smaller sub-camps. One was a work camp. When the prisoner was too old or too sick to work, he was sent to the death camp. Once murdered, slain prisoners were sent to the final facility – a crematorium. Auschwits had the capacity to murder 20,000 prisoners per day. It is estimated that at least 1.1 million people died there.

2. Treblinka. This complex was another extermination camp. Like Auschwitz, one portion of the facility was a forced labor camp while the other was death camp. The workers were forced to work in the gravel pits and irrigation areas. When they could no longer work, the prisoners were sent to the death camp; Treblinka II. It is estimated that at least 870,000 Jews and Roma people were killed at Treblinka.

3. Ebensee. This camp was established in November of 1943 in Austria. This was another forced labor camp that provided slave labor to build underground tunnels for Nazi armaments. The prisoners were literally worked to death. Due to the death rates there, Ebensee was considered to be one of the worst concentration camps in the Nazi network.

4. Sobibor. Sobibor was another Nazi extermination camp located in Poland. It is estimated that 200,000 to 250,000 prisoners were murdered there. On October 14, 1943, the prisoners revolted, killing several guards. Nearly 600 prisoners were able to escape. Almost immediately after the revolt occurred, the Nazis destroyed the camp and planted a huge number of trees in its place in an effort to conceal the camp’s former location.

nazi concentration camps

Lesser-Known Concentration Camps

5. Majdanek. Located near Lubin, Poland, Majdanek was considered to be a forced labor camp. However, it is estimated that nearly 80,000 people died there. The prisoners were forced to work the Steyr-Daimler-Puch weapons/munitions factory. However, the camp was also used a morbid sorting facility. Prisoners were forced to sort the property and valuables taken from the murder victims located at the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka extermination camps.

6. Belzec. This camp is another Nazi extermination camp located in Poland. It is one of the first camps built and used in Operation Reinhard, the Nazi’s systematic plan to exterminate Polish Jews. It is estimated that more than 500,000 Jews were murdered at Belzec; however, little is known about the facility because there are only two known survivors of the death camp.

7. Chelmno. This extermination camp was infamous for its use of gas vans. Prisoners were herded into air-tight compartments located in the back of vans. The doors were sealed and the van’s exhaust system was pumped into the air-tight compartment until the prisoners died of carbon monoxide poisoning. It has been estimated that more than 150,000 people were killed at Chelmno.

8. Bergen-Belsen. This prisoner of war camp was located in Germany was used primarily for hostage exchanges. It is estimated that about 50,000 prisoners died in the camp, mainly of typhus, which caused the prisoners to become feverish and often deteriorate into a state of delirium.

nazi concentration camps

Final Camps of Death

9. Buchenwald. Buchenwald was a forced labor camp located in Germany. Prisoners were forced to work in weapons and armament facilities. However, the camp was also used as a Nazi research facility for typhus. While at the camp, prisoners were commonly exposed to the disease to allow Nazi scientists to test various experimental vaccines. It is estimated that more than 55,000 prisoners were killed at Buchenwald.

10. Dachau – Dachau was located in Germany and was the first concentration camp of the Nazi regime. This camp was also the longest operating camp in the Nazi network and was used as a prototype facility that all future camps would be designed after. It also served as a training facility for concentration camp guards.

Scientists at Dachau experimented on the prisoners as well. Their terrible research covered high altitude effects on the human body, and making sea water drinkable; among other experiments. These experiments usually resulted in the crippling, disfiguring, or death of the subjects.

These are only glimpses into the horrific events that took places in the Nazi concentration camps. There were about 15,000 Nazi extermination, forced labor, and concentration camps throughout Germany. The full extent of the atrocities that took place in those camps may never fully be known.

References & Image Credits:
(1) BBC – Auschwitz
(2) U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

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