Prisoners of the Camps
The use of concentration camps to hold real or perceived enemies of the Nazi state began in the earliest weeks of the regime in 1933. During the mid-1930s, the camp system was regularized under the control of the SS. Thereafter, each prisoner was registered by number, issued a uniform with a triangular patch to identify the wearer’s category of offense, often photographed, and usually assigned to forced labor at SS-commissioned construction projects.
During World War II, the Nazi concentration camp system expanded greatly in both the number of camps and prisoners, as the SS hoped to exploit prisoner labor for the German armaments industry. By January 1945, the number of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps reached 715,000, among them 200,000 women, and included Jews, Poles, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), homosexuals, persons deemed “asocial,” and criminals. The vast majority of arrested Jews were not interned in the concentration camp system but deported to killing centers and sent directly to the gas chambers.
Location: Middle Floor
Learn more about the themes covered on this floor of the exhibition