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The Nazi Camp System

גכדגכדגכ דגכדג כדג
The first concentration camps were constructed in Germany in 1933. They were primarily used to solidify the regime, by using political terror and incarcerating those perceived as dissidents. The working model for these camps was Dachau. After the consolidation of the regime, those perceived as a threat to the Nazi vision, such as “asocials”, were also sent to the camps. At this stage, especially following the Kristallnacht in 1938, the number of Jewish prisoners in the camps rose significantly, the majority of whom were exploited for economic purposes – many as forced labor. Due to the significant rise in prisoner count, and the need to exploit the conquered territories – including their manpower the Germans began constructing many more labor camps, some solely for Jews.
During this period, POW camps and other concentration camps were constructed as well. The number of concentration camps constructed in Germany and throughout Europe continued to increase. From this point on, the concentration and labor camps were used for massive and brutal exploitation of prisoner labor, and for implementing the policy of mass murder of Jews. For this purpose, six extermination camps were constructed and converted from existing camps. Some of them were concentration and extermination camps - such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek and some were exclusively extermination camps – such as Chełmno and Treblinka. In total, tens of thousands of different kinds of camps were constructed, in which millions of people were murdered or died.

And now we progress to the extraordinary story of a ten year old Jewish boy writing poems in a concentration camp in Germany and the fraught relationship of the adult, now a well-established poet confronting his early poems, in the child’s hand-writing, and the tensions involved in this unique situation.

But first, as an introduction to the subject of Nazi concentration camps, we will view, in the next two steps, two historical videos. The first one, which is taken from Yad Vashem’s “Key Historical Concepts in Holocaust Education” video series, provides a brief overview of the Nazi Camp system and its development.

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Poetry and the Holocaust

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