Non extermination camp, Goldhagen

“THE FIRST FACET of the camp system consisted of the
obvious instrumental ends for which camps were used.
These were the ends which were understood by all of the
Germans participating in the camp system (and millions
outside it), and they are the features of camps that are
most discussed in the literature: the systematic slaughter
of designated enemies, principally of Jews, the
enslavement of people, primarily “subhumans,” for economic
benefit, and the incarceration and punishment of the
enemies of the new Germany.

“At the apogee of the camp system were the extermination
camps of Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, and
Treblinka. In them the Germans constructed extermination
facilities for the annihilation of European Jews who
composed the overwhelming majority of the victims, and
slaughtered crematoria are well known, so they do not have
to be elaborated upon here.[30] Yet the Germans
slaughtered people wholesale in camps other than those
which have come to be known as `death camps.’ After the
beginning of 1942, the camp system in general was lethal
for Jews. Whether the Germans were killing them
immediately and directly in the gas chambers of an
extermination camp or working and starving them to death
in camps that they had not constructed for the express
purpose of extermination (namely in concentration or
`work’ camps), the mortality rates of Jews in camps was at
exterminatory, genocidal levels and typically far exceeded
the mortality rates of other groups living side by side
with them.

“Once the German genocidal program was under
way, the distinction between extermination camps (which
the Germans had constructed expressly for the killing of
Jews) and non-extermination camps can be seen as having
been specious for Jews — though not for other peoples. The
monthly death rate for Jews in Mauthausen was, from the
end of 1942 to 1943, 100 percent. Mauthausen was not
formally an extermination camp and, indeed, it was not for
non-Jews, who at the end of 1943 all had a mortality rate below
2 percent.[31] Camps housing Jews did so on a
temporary basis, because the Germans had consigned all
Jews to death. Only the rate of extermination, not the
goal, might vary.” (Goldhagen, 173)


30. For a general account, see Eugon Kogon, Hermann Langbein, and
Adalbert Rueckerl, eds., Nazi Mass Murder: Adocumentary History of t
he Use of Poison Gas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993),
pp. 73-204; for the memoir of a Jewish survivor who worked in the
extermination facilities of Auschwitz, see Filip Mueller, Eyewitness
Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers (New York: Stein & Day, 1979)

31. Pingel, Haeftlinge unter NS-Herrschaft, p. 186

Work Cited

Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary
Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996

Lasr-Modified: 1996/07/12