Internment Camp
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Internment Camp
Boer women and children in a British-run concentration camp in South Africa (1900-1902)

Internment is the imprisonment or confinement[1] of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects".[2] Thus, while it can simply mean imprisonment, it tends to refer to preventive confinement, rather than confinement after having been convicted of some crime. Use of these terms is subject to debate and political sensitivities.[3]

Interned persons may be held in prisons or in facilities known as internment camps. In certain contexts, these may also be known either officially or pejoratively, as concentration camps.

Internment also refers to a neutral country's practice of detaining belligerent armed forces and equipment on its territory during times of war under the Hague Convention of 1907.[4]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights restricts the use of internment. Article 9 states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."[5]

History and the term "concentration camp"

Ten thousand inmates were kept in El Agheila, one of the Italian concentration camps in Libya during the Italian colonization of Libya
Jewish slave laborers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, 16 April 1945 (second row from bottom, seventh from left is Elie Wiesel)

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term concentration camp as: "A camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as suspect."[6]

The United States set up concentration camps for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s.[7] In 1864, the U.S. government forced 8,000 Navajos to walk more than 300 miles at gunpoint from their ancestral homelands in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to an internment camp in Bosque Redondo, a desolate tract on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico.[8] From 1863 to 1868, the U.S. Military persecuted and imprisoned 9,500 Navajo and 500 Mescalero Apache. Living under armed guards, more than 3,500 Navajo and Mescalero Apache men, women, and children died from starvation and disease.[8] Adolf Hitler admired the U.S. actions toward Native Americans, and in a 1928 speech he praised Americans for having "gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage."[9]

The English term concentration camp was first used in order to refer to the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years' War (1868-78) and the Cuban War for Independence (1895-98), and similar camps set up by the United States during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902).[10]

The term concentration camp saw wider use during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), when the British operated such camps in South Africa for interning Boers.[10][11] They built 45 tented camps for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, the British sent 25,630 overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children,[12] over 26,000 of whom died there.[12][13] More than 14,000 Black Africans died in the camps.[14]

Between 1904 and 1908, the Imperial German Army operated concentration camps like the Shark Island Concentration Camp in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) as part of its genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples.

In the late 1930s, over 100,000 defeated or interned personnel of the Spanish Republican armed forces, along with civilians, were held in concentration camps by the government of France, and they included Meheri Zabbens,[1] and the Camp de concentration d'Argelès-sur-Mer in southern France. Some of them managed to go into exile or went off to join the armies of the Allies in order to fight against the Axis powers,[15] while others ended up in Nazi concentration camps.[16]

During the 20th century, the arbitrary internment of civilians by the state reached its most extreme form with the establishment of the Nazi concentration camps (1933-45). The Nazi concentration camp system was extensive, with as many as 15,000 camps[17] and at least 715,000 simultaneous internees.[18] The total number of casualties in these camps is difficult to determine, but the conscious policy of extermination through labor in at least some of the camps ensured that the inmates would die of starvation, untreated disease and summary executions.[19] Moreover, Nazi Germany established six extermination camps, specifically designed to kill millions, primarily by gassing.[20][21]

As a result, some say that today the term "concentration camp" may be conflated with the concept of "extermination camp" and historians debate whether the term "concentration camp" or "internment camp" should be used in order to describe other examples of civilian internment, such as the United States government's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,[3] and the Australian government's immigrant detention facilities.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b Almirante Valdés (VS o AV)
  2. ^ internment. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved November 03, 2014, from
  3. ^ a b Euphemisms, Concentration Camps And The Japanese Internment
  4. ^ "The Second Hague Convention, 1907". Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2013. 
  5. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9, United Nations
  6. ^ "Concentration camp". American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved 2014. 
  7. ^ James L. Dickerson (2010). Inside America's Concentration Camps: Two Centuries of Internment and Torture. p. 29. Chicago Review Press
  8. ^ a b M. Annette Jaimes (1992). The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance. p. 34. South End Press
  9. ^ "American laws against 'coloreds' influenced Nazi racial planners". Times of Israel. Retrieved August 31, 2017
  10. ^ a b "Concentration Camp". The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.). Columbia University Press. 2008. 
  11. ^ "Documents re camps in Boer War". Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. 
  12. ^ a b Meredith, Martin (2007). Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa Conditions were reputedly even worse in the camps where black Africans were held, but unlike in the Boer camps, death rates were not recorded in the camps where black Africans were held (First ed.). New York: PublicAffairs. pp. 452-56. ISBN 978-1586484736. 
  13. ^ Knight, Ian (2000). Boer Wars (2): 1898-1902. Men-at-Arms. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 978-1855326132. 
  14. ^ Thomas Pakenham (1991), The Scramble for Africa, 1876-1912, Random House, New York. Pages 580-581.
  15. ^ 24 au 26 août 1944 Libération de Paris par les chars... espagnols de la nueve[dead link]
  16. ^ "Republicans deportats als camps de concentració nazis"
  17. ^ Concentration Camp Listing Sourced from Van Eck, Ludo Le livre des Camps. Belgium: Editions Kritak; and Gilbert, Martin Atlas of the Holocaust. New York: William Morrow 1993 ISBN 0-688-12364-3. In this on-line site are the names of 149 camps and 814 subcamps, organized by country.
  18. ^ Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-14-303790-3. 
  19. ^ Marek Przybyszewski, IBH Opracowania - Dzia?dowo jako centrum administracyjne ziemi sasi?skiej (Dzia?dowo as centre of local administration). Internet Archive, 22 October 2010.
  20. ^ Robert Gellately; Nathan Stoltzfus (2001). Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-691-08684-2. 
  21. ^ Anne Applebaum, A History of Horror, Review of "Le Siècle des camps" by Joël Kotek and Pierre Rigoulot, The New York Review of Books, 18 October 2001
  22. ^ Charles, Stephen (4 May 2016). "Our detention centres are concentration camps and must be closed" - via The Sydney Morning Herald. 

External links

Media related to Internment at Wikimedia Commons

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