Talk:Concentration camp

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 Definition A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes unwanted ethnic groups are detained and confined under extremely harsh conditions (including the murder of the detainees as during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany). [d] [e]
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On the term "concentration camp"

I started working today on an article about a German filmmaker Nina Gladitz. Gladitz was a critic of fellow German Leni Riefenstahl, for glorifying the Nazi Party and Nazi ideology. While doing so I came across a pretty big problem. Our coverage of Auschwitz calls it a Nazi concentration camps. There is a general misconception that "Concentration camp" is synonymous with "Nazi death camp".

I am not a historian, but there is a historian who seems to be recognized as a leading expert on the history of the concentration camp - Andrea Pitzer. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the border camps where refugee families had their children stripped from them "concentration camps". She referred to Pitzer's work. I bought Pitzer's book. She documented that the term "concentration camp" was first used in the late 19th century - by the Spanish IIRC. The UK used this term for camps full of Boer civilians, during the Boer War. Both sides used this term for camps were they held citizens of the opposite side, during WW1.

Pitzer documented that the term had always merely meant a camp where authorities held individuals without charge, citing some kind of threat to national security.

I think neither the wikipedia or citizendium should perpetuate the misconception that "Concentration camp" is synonymous with "Nazi death camp". I think Auschwitz should be referred to as a Nazi death camp. The Nazis operated camps whose primary purpose was to kill those taken to it. They also operated labor camps, where the primary purpose was to employ prisoners as slave labour, working them for brutally long hours, while feeding them starvation rations, and supplying them with inadequate and unsanitary barracks, with the result that they were worked to death. Should those camps, where many prisoners died through being worked to death, have a separate article from the article on Nazi death camps?

This is controversial. Nazi concentration camps are controversial. Death camps are controversial. Removing the widely held but incorrect notion that "Concentration camp" is synonymous with "Nazi death camp" would be controversial.

So, I won't start without the agreement of some other people here. I am going to explicitly ping Pat and Peter. George Swan (talk) 21:04, 22 July 2022 (CDT)

I agree. And, yes, it was the Spanish, in Cuba. It was actually, relatively speaking, a humanitarian measure. The traditional, and still common, practice when faced with fighters hiding among, or disguised as, civilians, is just to massacre the civilians.
This sort of McCarthyism is quite common. See Holocaust denial for another case where different concepts are slurred together. And then there's "hate speech" which has at least three different meanings. Etc. Peter Jackson (talk) 05:37, 23 July 2022 (CDT)
I agree too. How about we copy/move this to the Discussion page of "Concentration camp", where it will be easily found in future? I will do it and leave a notice behind here. Pat Palmer (talk) 06:01, 23 July 2022 (CDT)
I realized afterwards that my remark above is doing the same thing it's criticizing others for: it slurs the distinction between those who deliberately slur distinctions in order to smear people and those who're just being muddle-headed. (Not always easy to tell which are which.) Peter Jackson (talk) 04:50, 25 July 2022 (CDT)
I started looking at all the Auschwitz articles and they do need to be renamed and maybe reorganized (as in consolidated?) and updated. It's a big job and I stuck it on my work queue, but if anyone else wants to undertake it in the meantime, go for it. Pat Palmer (talk) 08:19, 30 July 2022 (CDT)
More trivially, either death camp or extermination camp. Peter Jackson (talk) 04:30, 1 August 2022 (CDT)
Another possibility occurs to me: maybe death camps, labour camps, torture camps etc are all subcategories of concentration camps. Peter Jackson (talk) 05:03, 6 August 2022 (CDT)
  • Sure, they are related, but I think it would be best if separate but related topics were always covered in separate articles.
A hyperlink is always a better way to give a reader a choice of two different topics to read about. If they are reading along, and see a hyperlink, to a different but related topic, and go to read about that topic, they get to use their back button to return where they were. If separate but related topics are shoehorned into an omnibus article, the reader can get to the related information with their search feature, or through manual scrolling. But then how do they get back where they started? The back button is no help. That leave manual scrolling, or using the search function.
Well, no modern browser's search function has a stack. If you search for something new you forget the important thing you were previously searching for. I don't want to sacrifice the important thing I was searching for. I might not remember a key phrase from before. I might misspell it, or it might be a commonly used phrase, so the search doesn't work.
Compared with using the back button it is an unnecessary cognitive burden.
The key thing about a concentration camp is that a government rounds up a broad indiscriminately apprehended group of people, and holds them, but without charging them with a crime. Some labour camps are prisons, for people who were convicted of a crime. So, those labour camps are not concentration camps.
Torture camps, like the CIA's black sites, and SOCOM's less well documented parallel torture camps, are not concentration camps, because they hold individuals who weren't broadly and indiscriminately collected. The CIA acknowledges holding about 130 people in its black sites. Maybe it was double that. But they were picked up one at a time, or a handful at a time.
Individuals sent to the Soviet Gulag camps, were not sent broadly and indiscriminately. They may sometime have had a pro forma show trial.
About a decade ago my google news alerts brought me some articles about a former torturer, from Brazil. He had tortured suspects at the casa de morte - the "house of death", when Brazil was a dictatorship. When a non-dictatorship took power torturers like him were allowed to go without punishment, for fear charging them would trigger another coup.
The unusual circumstances of his death, decades later, triggered speculation that he was murdered in a long delayed act of retaliation. But the coroners inquest ruled that this elderly man died of fright when he encountered common criminals burglarizing his home.
The CIA operated a secret camp, beside the better known Guantanamo camp, code-named Camp Penny Lane. They took individuals from the better known Guantanamo camp, who they thought could be turned into moles, double agents, who could be released and then report back to the CIA on al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or some other group. It is kind of a goofy idea. Casa de morte was operated on the same premise. Turn captives into double agents.
Records seem to indicate that Brazilian torturers processed about 50 people through Casa de Morte. They tortured them, threatened them, and repeatedly raped all the female captives. What the records show was that Brazilian authorities eventually murdered all but one of the individuals they wanted to turn into moles, because they decided they couldn't trust them if they released them. That one individual was a beautiful young woman. The trust they had in her was due to (1) threats that, if she defected from being a double agent they would capture her baby sister, and rape and torture her; (2) they took pictures of her, apparently accepting payment for being a mole, and contracts and other documents that would suggest she voluntarily sought out the intelligence agency and volunteered to be a double agent. If she defected they would leak these, so the organizations she was supposed to spy on would kill her themselves.
This one young woman the torturers released promptly turned herself in to regular law enforcement authorities. So, she was protected from retaliation by being in prison. Couldn't they have gotten to her in prison? I dunno. Maybe they couldn't be bothered. Maybe there were senior elements within their Bureau of Prisons who didn't like the intelligence officials operating unofficial prisons, and chose to protect her for that reason. When the dictatorship ended she was given an amnesty.
Years later there was a ceremony where the new democratic President recognized her, gave her a medal. Unfortunately someone had already tried to kill her. A severe beating with a hammer had robbed her of the power of speech.
Anyhow, torture camps, like those, aren't concentration camps.
Did the CIA officers who ran Camp Penny Lane ever decide to trust any of the individuals they processed? They never named any, but I think there are a couple of individuals who are candidates. Prior to 2004 very few individuals were released from Guantanamo. Because the DoD was keeping the identity of captives secret, there were almost never press releases about them.
But there were press releases about three men, apparently acknowledging that camp authorities had been tricked by them, into thinking they were being held by mistake, that they were innocent civilian bystanders - when they were really Taliban commanders.
This kind of press release was highly untypical of DoD press releases, that is why I suspect these individuals had been trusted to serve as moles. All three men were reported to have died within a year or so of their release.
One disturbing wrinkle is that one of the men who was one of these suspicious early releases had the same nickname as another Guantanamo captive, who was very clearly an innocent bystander. They both had the nickname "Shahzada". Shah, of course, is Persian for King. Shahzada means "Son of a King", but seems to be applied to any son of a rich guy, implying he was, to use the English phrase, "born with a silver spoon in his mouth".
The innocent guy was the son of relatively wealthy property owner, from a family of relatively wealthy property owners. However, during the decade of Soviet occupation, all their properties had been seized, making them relatively poor. He was still wealthy and privileged enough to be sent to one of the few private schools where he could get a good education.
When the Soviets leave, and their puppet communist government collapses, his family's properties are restored, and they promptly go to Pakistan to sit out the years of civil war. As someone with a westernized education he is able to get a post as a Science teacher at a bona fide high school in Pakistan. He works there for seven years, including the entire time the Taliban was in power.
Illiteracy was a terrible problem in Afghanistan, for Hamid Karzai. Decades of war had shut down almost all schools, even religious madrassas, and very few people knew how to read and write. He had a very small base of doctors, engineers, or even people literate enough to be entry level civil servants. So, he appealed to educated Afghans living abroad to return home, and put their education to use rebuilding Afghanistan.
Our young guy does return home, and within days, before he has got settled, he is walking through the bazaar when a bomb explodes and his leg is injured. Who should he get help from? He decides to get help from people he knew from that high school, a decade ago. He goes to the home of the closest guy, only to have that guy settle a high school grudge by turning him in to the authorities, claiming he is a member of the Taliban. You might think there was some meaningful vetting of the allegations levelled against the guys sent to Guantanamo? There wasn't. A single accusation, and the fact that he was wounded, was enough to get him sent to Guantanamo.
Well, in Guantanamo he works hard, and gets that school he used to work at to send documents that proved he spent the entire time he was accused of being the Taliban's Chief of Intelligence in Kurnaz working as a high school Science teacher.
In late 2004 SCOTUS ordered the DoD to (1) tell the captives why they were being held; (2) give them an opportunity to refute the allegations justifying their detention. In 2004, after hearing his story, the officers with the authority to recommend his release told him the proof that he was working in Pakistan, during the Taliban governance of Afghanistan, was irrelevant, because he could have served as the Taliban's Chief of Intelligence during his summer vacation. No, I am not making this up.
Anyhow, I suspect that the large body of evidence clearing this man was exploited by the CIA, and used as their cover story, when they decided the mole with the same nickname could be trusted to be released.
How often does that happen in the US Bureau of Prisons, an order comes down to release Joe Blow, and the prison continues to hold him, releasing instead someone else with that name? (George_Swan talk) ?, 6 August 2022 (CDT)
More than it should, I suspect. I've certainly heard of cases over here of prisoners released by mistake.
A case you don't mention above is the camps where Putin lets his Chechen stooges torture homosexuals.
Anyway, you seem to have analysed this quite a lot, which I'm unlikely to do myself in the near future. Peter Jackson (talk) 04:38, 8 August 2022 (CDT)