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Connellsville has ties to some of the Concentration Camps that were in 

Europe during WWII. Some of our 

past citizens spent years in these 

camps, fortunately, surviving and 

coming home to tell their stories. 

 Some of our area veterans also 

helped liberate some of the most 

deadly camps that were in use during 

that time, and came back with

photographs and stories of the horrible conditions that they found when providing medical treatment and releasing those people from the camps. We need to keep these stories alive. In Connellsville, we need to do our part so history does not repeat itself. This was one of the worst and most hateful wars of all time.

What were Concentration Camps?

Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany established about 20,000 camps to imprison its many millions of victims. These camps were used for a range of purposes including forced-labor camps, transit camps which served as temporary way stations, and killing centers built primarily or exclusively for mass murder. From its rise to power in 1933, the Nazi regime built a series of detention facilities to imprison and eliminate so-called "enemies of the state." Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of "asocial" or socially deviant behavior. These facilities were called “concentration camps” because those imprisoned there were physically “concentrated” in one location.

After Germany's annexation of Austria in March 1938, the Nazis arrested German and Austrian Jews and imprisoned them in the Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, all located in Germany. After the violent Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogroms in November 1938, the Nazis conducted mass arrests of adult male Jews and incarcerated them in camps for brief periods.

FORCED-LABOR AND PRISONER-OF-WAR CAMPS

Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Nazis opened forced-labor camps where thousands of prisoners died from exhaustion, starvation, and exposure. SS units guarded the camps. During World War II, the Nazi camp system expanded rapidly. In some camps, Nazi doctors performed medical experiments on prisoners.

Following the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis increased the number of prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. Some new camps were built at existing concentration camp complexes (such as Auschwitz) in occupied Poland. The camp at Lublin, later known as Majdanek, was established in the autumn of 1941 as a POW camp and became a concentration camp in 1943. Thousands of Soviet POWs were shot or gassed there.

 KILLING CENTERS

To facilitate the "Final Solution" (the genocide or mass destruction of the Jews), the Nazis established killing centers in Poland, the country with the largest Jewish population. The killing centers were designed for efficient mass murder. Chelmno, the first killing center, opened in December 1941. Jews and Roma were gassed in mobile gas vans there. In 1942, the Nazis opened the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centers to systematically murder the Jews of the Generalgouvernement (the territory in the interior of occupied Poland).

The Nazis constructed gas chambers (rooms that filled with poison gas to kill those inside) to increase killing efficiency and to make the process more impersonal for the perpetrators. At the Auschwitz camp complex, the Birkenau killing center had four gas chambers. During the height of deportations to the camp, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed there each day.

Jews in Nazi-occupied lands often were first deported to transit camps such as Westerbork in the Netherlands, or Drancy in France, en route to the killing centers in occupied Poland. The transit camps were usually the last stop before deportation to a killing center.

Millions of people were imprisoned and abused in the various types of Nazi camps. Under SS management, the Germans and their collaborators murdered more than three million Jews in the killing centers alone. Only a small fraction of those imprisoned in Nazi camps survived.

Just a few of the many concentration camps are listed below.

Camp

Locale

Type

Usage

 Closure

 Present

Poland

Annihilation

Forced Labortext

 Apr 1940

Jan 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Preserved

(Museum)

Poland

 Annihilation

Mar 1942

Jun 1943

Closeout

  Monument

Germany

Holding Center 

Apr 1943

Apr 1945

Liberation

(UK)

Graveyard 

Germany

Forced

Labor

Jul 1937

Apr 1945 

Liberation

(USA)

Preserved

(Museum)

Poland

Annihilation

Dec 1944

Apr 1943

Apr 1944

Jan 1945

Closeout

Monument

Germany

Forced

Labor

Mar1933

Apr 1945 

Liberation

(USA)

Preserved

(Museum)

Germany

Forced

Labor

Sep 1943

Apr 1945

Liberation

(USA)

Memorial

Sculpture

Germany

Forced

Labor

May 1938

Apr 1945 

Liberation

(USA) 

Monument

Gross-

Rosen

Poland 

Forced

Labor

Aug 1940

Feb 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Preserved

(Museum)

Ukraine 

Annihilation

Forced Labor

Sep 1941

Nov 1943

Closeout

Not

Maintained

Latvia

Forced

Labor 

Mar 1943

Sep 1944 

Closeout

Not

Maintained

Poland

Annihilation

Jul 1941

Jul 1944 

Liberation

(USSR)

Preserved

(Museum)

Austria

Forced

Lavor

Aug 1938

May1945 

Liberation

(USA)

Monument

France

Forced

Lavor

May 1941

Sep 1944

Closeout

Preserved 

Germany 

Forced

Labor

Jun 1940

May 1945

Liberation

(UK)

Monument

(Prison)

Germany

Holding

Center

Mar 1933

Mar 1935

Destroyed

Not

Maintained

Poland

Forced

Labor

Dec 1942

Jan 1945

Closeout

Not

Maintained 

Germany

Forced

Labor

May 1939

Apr 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Monument

Germany

Forced

Labor

Jul 1936

Apr 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Preserved

(Museum)

Poland

Annihilation

May 1942

Oct 1943

Closeout

Monument

Poland

Forced

Labor

Sep 1939

May 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Preserved

(Museum)

Czed

Republic

Holding

Center/

Transit

Nov 1941

May 1945

Liberation

(USSR)

Monument

Poland

Annihilation

Jul 1942

Nov 1943

Closeout

Monument

Nether-

lands

Transit

Oct 1939

Nov 1943

Liberation

(Canada)

Monument

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