It’s important to be accurate

Or perhaps this is just pendantry:

That some of those 800,000 asylum-seekers Angela Merkel wants to welcome to Germany are being “housed in the former Dachau concentration camp” was irresistible, although they are not living in the death camp itself but only in an adjacent barracks.

Dachau wasn’t a death camp. It was a concentration camp, many died there, were executed there, were murdered, but it was not a “death camp”. Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, these were death camps. The distinction being that at a death camp the entire aim and purpose was to kill: prisoners were executed within hours of arrival. They were sent there to be executed and that’s that.

19 thoughts on “It’s important to be accurate”

  1. That is not pedantry. There is a pretty big distinction between the half a dozen camps where people were sent to be murdered as efficiently as possible and the hundred or more concentration camps where people had to work as slave labour in brutal conditions ‘in order to learn to work hard to make a contribution to society’ as their documentation put it.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Once you have the architecture, what else do you use it for? The Soviets turned Nazi concentration camps into Stalinist concentration camps. The British used at least one for Displaced People.

    It is a bit of a surprise one has survived this long without being redeveloped. But it is not a surprise that they continue to be used for the state’s purposes. Just with less death.

  3. It is a bit of a surprise one has survived this long without being redeveloped.

    Not really. Dachau has been turned into a museum to remind the world what went on there. I encourage everyone to visit at least once: once was enough for me though.

  4. Thinking about it, I wonder if the adherents to the Religion of Peace that are being housed there know its history?

  5. BiW
    They’ll feel at home. My German friends once visited Syria where they were told they were very welcome “after what Germany did to the Jews”.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Wales – “Dachau has been turned into a museum to remind the world what went on there. I encourage everyone to visit at least once: once was enough for me though.”

    That is kind of what I mean. It is not available for use for any other purpose.

    Somewhere, one is. That is unexpected.

  7. Theophrastus

    “They’ll feel at home. My German friends once visited Syria where they were told they were very welcome “after what Germany did to the Jews”.”

    Good grief.

    I had a history teacher at school with a background in academia. He’d once been at an interdisciplinary conference about the impact of WW2. A Nigerian professor of chemistry asked during the questions, “Excuse me but who is this Adolf Hitler you have been talking about?” So obviously news of the Nazis had not penetrated all corners of the Earth.

  8. “A Nigerian professor of chemistry asked during the questions, “Excuse me but who is this Adolf Hitler you have been talking about?” ”

    This was because by a bizarre coincidence the Nigerian professor had $52,000,000 dollars in his bank account which was the property of Adolf Hitler’s descendants….

  9. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Let’s call them what they are: colonists.

    It’s a symptom of the infantile level of political culture among Middle Eastern Arabs and Moslems in general that they simultaneously deny the Holocaust and regret that the Germans didn’t finish the job.

  10. Essential to be accurate, I think. It was an argument of those who would deny the Holocaust that ‘Auschwitz’ was not an extermination camp as claimed, for instance. True by the end of the war of Auschwitz I, as Auschwitz II-Birkenau had taken over that function.

  11. The use of “extermination camp”, e.g. Treblinka, as distinct from mere “death camp”, e.g. Belsen, would be useful.

    Don’t tell me that Belsen wasn’t a death camp – my father saw it. “Concentration camp” could be used for the lock-ups for Japanese-US citizens. Better not, though, it would only lead to confusion.

  12. Tits thyme that Tim worsted all was investing gated for chimes against Hugh Manatee.


    Sent from my Murphone.

  13. @dearieme
    Belsen wasn’t a camp like Treblinka in the sense of a camp specifically intended deliberately to kill people.
    In 1943-45 it was a concentration camp for slave labourers like many others. However in the chaotic last months of the war conditions at Belsen were worse than in most other camps, and large numbers of prisoners died of malnutrition and disease.
    The Wikipedia entry on Bergen-Belsen seems pretty good.

  14. It was all a long time ago. Vendetta material really. Do the PC people really need it.
    As for the ‘history repeats itself” – what else can humans do? At least the atom bombs haven’t gone off as yet.

  15. “Dachau not a death camp.”
    I queried it when a Dutch friend described Dacha as a death camp. His father had been imprisoned there.
    He explained that the original camp – now a museum – was a prison. But it administered several satellite camps that were indeed death camps. So both statements are right.
    I was at Dachau in 1974. Saw the crematorium. 35,000 people died there.
    In the evening I was talking to some locals. Mentioned what I had been doing. They changed the subject.

  16. @JimW
    The Wikipedia entry on Dachau looks good. Nothing there about Dachau or its satellites being death camps as Treblinka, Sobibor,and Majdanek were death camps in Tim’s sense, ie camps intended for no other purpose than to kill people.

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    JimW – “In the evening I was talking to some locals. Mentioned what I had been doing. They changed the subject.”

    Well in fairness you would, wouldn’t you? What other possible reaction is there to the thousands of tourists who come by every year and want to talk to the locals about it all? “So what did your Daddy do in the war?” gets a bit tiring I expect after the first hundred thousand times.

    Dachau, it turns out, was used as an Army barracks and a refugee resettlement camp until 1960. Part of it is still used by the Bavarian police. It goes to show the State rarely lets cheap architecture go to waste.

    Also it is likely that most of what you saw is a fairly modern re-creation. A lot of Nazi sites have been theme-parked so to speak. The crematoria I would be very suspicious of. Most of them were blown up after the war by the Allies who were rightfully disgusted.

  18. Bart, I think you miss my point. I think any of Hitler’s camps that led to massive deaths might reasonably be called a ‘death camp”; they could be distinguished from the Treblinkas by calling the latter “extermination camps”. i’d agree with not calling Belsen a “death camp” if there were any evidence that the Nazis tried to avoid the deaths there by feeding the prisoners better, or by trying to fight the infectious diseases. But they didn’t.

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