Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A New Geography of Nazi Concentration Camps, Ghettos, and More

This past weekend the New York Times reported on the United States' Holocaust Museums publication of information showing that there were over 42,500 German-run concentration camps, ghettos, prisoner-of-war-camps, forced labor camps, brothels, and eugenics hospitals.  This is much higher than the previous estimate of about 7,000 locations of the Nazi civilization-reengineering-complex.

The western most sight of the greater Holocaust, focusing not only on Jews but all "undesirables", were several sub-camps on Alderney, which is part of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency off the coast of France.  This camp had Russian and Polish prisoners-of-war who were used as forced labor to help build defenses against the Western Allies.  The eastern and southern-most location was a Jewish ghetto in Nalchik,  Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.  That makes a stretch of 2,184 miles (3,514 kilometers) of Nazi civilization-reengineering.

These are just SS camps.  This map excludes camps run by the Croats, Hungarians, and Romanians.  Click to enlarge.  From the New York Times.
Click to enlarge.  From the New York Times.
The concentration of Jewish ghettos in eastern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and western Ukraine is not surprising   Note how this region is the former Pale of Settlement.  This pale, meaning boundary, was established in 1791 by Tsarina Catherine the Great as a giant ghetto for Jews.  After previous Tsars realized it was impossible to get cleanse Jews from Russia, Catherine settled for making most of what was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a giant reservation.

Sadly this was not just a German affair.  Collaborators and collaborationist governments helped the Nazis by turning in their undesirables and even running camps themselves. The French State, the Independent State of Croatia, regency Hungary, Kingdom of Romania, National Government of Norway, Slovak State, the Greek State, and various movements like the Rexists and the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands as well as various Slavs in former Soviet lands all worked together in eagerness to help the Nazis in their effort. The wide spread nature of these collaborators and lack of documentation will probably make much of the history and geography of their killings and other crimes unknowable forever.

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