Nazi German camps on Polish soil during World War II
German concentration, and extermination camps functioned on Polish soil from the beginning, until the end of German occupation. In October 1939, right after The September Campaign, German police constituted concentration camps which were designed for polish prisoners of war, and for people in charge of organising the resistance against the occupant. According to IPN (Polish Institute of National Remembrance) vast majority of 100.000 prisoners were executed.
Beginning in May 1940 when KL Auschwitz was built (at first the camp was intended to hold Polish prisoners), network of concentration camps on Polish territory quickly developed. The biggest camps were KL Lublin "Majdanek," KL Stutthof, and KL Gross-Rosen. Camps adapted strategy of subjecting prisoners to hunger, terrible sanitary conditions, and exhausting physical work in order to deteriorate them.
In 1941 german camps began to carry out the task of mass extermination - at the beginning of the Romani population, and soon also of the Jewish population, as a means to implement the Final Solution to the Jewish question. Mass murders were conducted with use of gas chambers with Cyclone-B or exhaust gases.
In 1942 Germans began to create extermination camps whose only task was to mass exterminate specific groups of people, such as: Jews, the Romani people, the Polish who helped the Jews, and also Soviet prisoners of war. Prisoners were brought to these camps from almost entire German-occupied Europe. The camps were staffed with german gestapo, and SS officers. The biggest extermination camps were situated in Chełmno nad Nerem, Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka.
Concentration camps, labor camps, and extermination camps - differentiation.
Camps which operated in German-occupied Poland could be divided into three categories. In labor camps population of occupied Poland was forced to slave work for the occupant, especially in the military industry. Prisoners had to work under inhumane conditions, and were subjected to bestial repressions which resulted in their slow death due to deterioration.
Concentration camps served as a means of incarceration where prisoners were subjected to constant repressions, and had to perform slave work. The camps were designed for people considered hostile by German authorities. Such camps were established in Germany itself, but also in countries occupied by Germany, especially Poland. In camps were placed people who were suspected of, or engaged in the resistance against the Nazi rule, but also people of minorities meant by Nazis for extermination. During the Second World War about two million people lost their lives in concentration camps.
Germans designed extermination camps for instant extermination of people placed in them, especially Jews, and the Romani people, mostly with use of gas chambers. Bodies were then buried in mass graves, or moved to crematories situated within camps territories. All prisoners' belongings were robbed.
German extermination camps on Polish soil
Extermination camp Aushwitz, today one of the symbols of the Second World War, and the Holocaust, was the biggest camp of the kind in the entire Third Reich. Beginning in 1942 altogether with numerous subcamps, it functioned as both concentration, and extermination camp. During its operation, approximately 1,3 million people were brought there, and about one million died in gas chambers, due to hunger, due to work under inhumane conditions, or as a result of pseudo-medical experiments which were a part of Third Reich policy.
Kulmhof in Chełmno nad Nerem, built by the Third Reich in December 1941, was the second extermination camp located in Poland. Initially, Jewish population from Kraj Warty (Reichsgau Wartheland) and prisoners who came from Western Europe were brought there, and exterminated. After ghetto in Łódź had been done away with, its population was also brought to Kulmhof, and exterminated. Approximately 160.000 people perished in trucks called "gas vans", which were trucks equipped with gas chambers.
In the area of The General Government there were four german extermination camps, where between 1942 and 1943 about two million people were murdered, mainly under Operation Reinhardt (English term for Aktion Reinhardt). Its main goal was to exterminate Jewish population on Polish soil. The operation was carried out by Guard Forces of the SS in Lublin.
In the camp in Bełżec, built in 1942, Germans exterminated victims by means of chambers with exhaust gas. At least 434.506 people perished there. Camp in Sobibór, which was done away with in November 1943 after an uprising organised by prisoners, brought death to about 250.000 people. Within the site of the extermination camp in Treblinka, also done away with in 1943, 800.000 Jews were murdered. In the meantime mass exterminations under Operation Reinhardt also took place in the camp in Majdanek, however, number of victims is unknown.
All the concentration, labor, and extermination camps which functioned during the Second World War on Polish soil annexed by Germany, and in the area of The General Government were initiated by German authorities. Camps were administered by German functionaries. Camps were used to carry out bestial directives issued by the authorities of The Third Reich, including slave work, and pseudo-medical experiments.