Nazi “killing centers” and “care centers”

There were far more Nazi “camps” than anyone had realized, according to recent research, some 42,500 of them, including not just “concentration camps,” but centers for euthanasia, forced abortions, forced prostitution, and other components of Hitler’s eugenics machine.

From The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking – NYTimes.com:

The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.

The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.

“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.

“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”

The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.

For the worldview–and the theology–that led to these horrors (and how they are coming back into vogue), see my book Modern Fascism.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Grace

    I read this story last Friday – as much as I’ve studied the atrocities of Nazi Germany, I was unaware of what this story uncovers.

    “The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.

    In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.

    Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.

    “You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,” he said. “They were everywhere.”

    The last four paragraphs are gripping ( PAGE TWO ) As I sat reading this last Friday, I realized how dishonest the entire account of Jewish hatred, even to deny what they could not have ignored. I had interviewed so many with numbers on their arms, telling me of their ordeal, their loss of family husband or wife, children. I had also spoken with those who lived in Germany at the time, who denied what had happened.

    It appears that most of Berlin was involved, or if they weren’t, they knew about it. 3,000 houses and camps were situated there.

    Now I see how gruesome this was – to top it off, those who came to the U.S. still denied what happened, even though they lived in Berlin.

    Ever since reading this account, I have difficulty in understanding how anyone, watching this horrific event, coming to this country, can still deny what they could not have missed.

    Hatred at it’s highest peak!

  • Joe

    I think we still have a lot to learn from the Holocaust. I think many tend to chalk it up to a crazy person who unfortunately rose to power at a time when the people were so hopeless (economy in the tank, still suffering from the first World War, etc.) that they would follow anyone with a plan. But I think there is more to it. It is a case study in our depraved nature, a study in what happens when we cast off our Baptismal promises and once again allow sin to be our masters.

    One of the lessons that we have still not fully learned is that this horrific event was not isolated against the Jews. Obviously, the Jews were the primary focus and bore a the biggest portion of the suffering but Hitler’s plan was much larger than exterminating Jews. His plan also included purging all homosexuals, the disabled and the feeble-minded from the gene pool. He also had a plan to exterminate 2/3 of all the Slavic peoples and to keep the other 1/3 as slaves. The article hints at this but misses the mark on the scope of the program for dealing with non-Jewish undesirables:

    “the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe.”

    I don’t raise this point to try to lessen the outrage everyone should feel regarding the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews, but rather to point out that the Nazis very likely wanted to kill many of our parents and grandparents as well. For me, it is personal. My maternal grandparents are Ukrainian Catholics. My grandfather was in Auschwitz and my grandmother was taken by the Nazis and given to a farmer as a slave. He kept her in the barn with the rest of his animals.

    This man and those who helped or stood by watching are horrible, horrible examples of what humanity is capable of when it decides it no longer needs Christ.

  • kerner

    Maybe this is nitpicking, but is it really fair to count prisoner-of-war camps? When there is a war, don’t all sides (including ours) have POW camps? The POWs have to be held somewhere.

  • Joe

    Kerner @ 3 – I think that is a fair point in the general, but it has been documented that the Nazis used POWs (mostly Russians) in some of their brutal and unethical medical experimentation.

  • Tom Hering

    My dad spent six bad years in an officer’s POW camp, and my mom spent five bad years in a forced labor camp. (Both of my parents were Polish, and the camps were in Germany.) I’m glad to see the FULL extent of the Nazi horror being recognized.

  • Becky F.

    I think it was incredibly awful, and there had to have been some Christian persecution element in there also, or just life in general was terrible. My aunt’s husband’s parents are German immigrants, and they left because of everything that was going on in Germany during the WWII era and after.

  • Grace

    Tom – “I’m glad to see the FULL extent of the Nazi horror being recognized.”

    I too think it is high time to expose the suffering, however I doubt we will ever know the full story.

    My uncle was a pilot, his plane shot down. His nervous system was damaged, he spent a long time in hospital, here in the U.S. He died an early death. He was so much fun to be with, we were very close, many times I would call him in the afternoon from my office, (at that time he had had heart surgery) his wife often had charity meetings, etc., to attend – - we would talk endlessly about our family, but we never spoke of his life in the camp, or the military. He would rarely attend very many family events, but when I married, he came to my engagement party, he often came for holiday dinners at my home, but rarely to others. I dearly loved him.

  • Grace

    I should have mentioned my uncle spent time in a POW camp, in Germany.

  • sg

    My uncle’s parents moved to the US before the war. He was born just after the war. He lost almost all of the rest of his relatives (about 60 men, women and children) in the camps. Only one of his uncles escaped to France. It is hard to imagine yet very real.

  • fjsteve

    To sort of echo what Joe says, I think we all need to be reminded that this was no more than 70 years ago and it was not a single lunatic’s doing. The grave mistakes we make are to assume that we are morally superior to Germans of the 1930′s in any respect and to conclude from that erroneous belief that another holocaust could never happen again.

  • Grace

    fjsteve 10

    “To sort of echo what Joe says, I think we all need to be reminded that this was no more than 70 years ago and it was not a single lunatic’s doing.

    Hitler certainly led the way, it was he who commanded the SS, the troups, the entire castastrophe. It takes a leader to pull it all together, and that leader of Germany was Hitler.

  • sg

    @11

    By definition, one is not a leader without followers. So, why did they follow, by the millions even? We know that people opposed him from the get go, so why didn’t others follow and support the opponents of Hitler? People could have just as easily elected Hindenburd or Thälmann, but they didn’t. So, yes, you are right that Hitler is responsible for his part in all of it, which was huge, but you can’t just ignore the electorate who voted for him or his top advisors and top supporters. They could have just walked away, at least initially. And yes, at the beginning they didn’t know where it was headed.

  • sg

    Correction, they did elect Hindenburg, but how is it Hitler could just waltz right in and abolish the democratically supported government institutions without people acting like doormats and letting him?

  • Grace

    sg @ 13

    “Correction, they did elect Hindenburg, but how is it Hitler could just waltz right in and abolish the democratically supported government institutions without people acting like doormats and letting him?

    I will give you one example from a woman whom I met near UCLA one day. She was an elderly woman about 80. She talked about the war, (she had lived in Switzerland) – I asked her why so many people hated the Jews. Her answer without any hesitation was, “people were jealous of the Jews, they had everything, good careers, education and many other things” – I wasn’t surprised by her answer or candor, however I felt deep pain and sadness, that anyone would be so envious as to wish the Jews such harm and death, even the children.

    The answer to your question sg: Because they wanted what wasn’t theirs Even today, people are angry and envious of those who have more, whatever that “more” is. Envy is deadly, the Word of God has much to say about it.

    A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
    Proverbs 14:30

    Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
    Proverbs 23:17

    Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
    Proverbs 27:4

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    “conclude from that erroneous belief that another holocaust could never happen again.”

    Oh, but it is happening. Life unworthy of being lived, so determined, is slaughtered in the womb, daily.

  • sg

    “I wasn’t surprised by her answer or candor, however I felt deep pain and sadness, that anyone would be so envious as to wish the Jews such harm and death, even the children.”

    Eh, the population probably was not itching to kill Jews. Most people are not psycho killers. They just aren’t. They might have been happy to see them kicked out, however. I agree it was part petty jealousy and envy and part just the usual tribalism.

  • Grace

    sg 16

    “Eh, the population probably was not itching to kill Jews. Most people are not psycho killers. They just aren’t. They might have been happy to see them kicked out, however. I agree it was part petty jealousy and envy and part just the usual tribalism.”

    The Jews would not have been killed, nor their children, or the horrific surgeries inflicted on their bodies, if there hadn’t been the “psycho” element. It takes real sick hatefulness to do what was done to children – even to remove the sexual organs of the male children. I have seen countless photos of the these children.

    Your comment “petty jealousy and envy and part just the usual tribalism.”

    sg, it wasn’t “petty jealousy” it was major jealousy of those who were far better educated, who had worked very hard to attain what they had. I have known, and worked with many Jewish people in the medical community, by far they are more educated, and competent show much more concern and mercy then most other physicians. The Jewish people are ardent and devoted parents, seeing that their children study, and reach the highest level of their ability.

  • Grace

    sg,

    Please clarify what you define as “just the usual tribalism.” – regarding the atrocities.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Not directly related, but here is a good news item: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21631427

    Spain has invited all Sephardic Jews that can prove that they are descended from Spanish Jews to come back, and that they would be fast-tracked for a Spanish passport and Spanish citizenship, in an act of contrition for the horrors of the Inquisition, which forced many to flee from Spain during the 15th century.

  • Grace

    KK

    Of course they would love to have the Sephardic Jews return, many of them have done very well in businesss, and many different fields, they’ve made money. Spain’s ecconomy isn’t doing well, so BINGO, they want their decendents to return, that isn’t hard to understand.

    By Constantine von Hoffman / MoneyWatch / April 30, 2012, 12:05 PM
    Big Spanish banks slip closer to bankruptcy

    (MoneyWatch) Standard and Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of Spain’s 11 largest banks Monday as efforts to rescue the financial institutions seemed to go nowhere. Economists expect the banks will need at least another $132 billion this year if they are to stave off bankruptcy. Despite this, the head of one the nation’s largest banks insisted there is no problem.

    The ratings cut came because the unemployment rate – 25 percent – will lead to even more people defaulting on their mortgages. Even before unemployment skyrocketed last year, Spain’s banks were reeling from a collapse in property prices which cut home values by more than 60 percent in some areas.

    The government is considering whether to create a holding company for the banks’ toxic real estate assets. Under this plan the government would buy the banks’ bad loans and create an agency with the responsibility for pursuing those who had defaulted on their loans. A similar plan was implemented in Ireland two years ago.

    Spain officially slides back into recession
    EU governments, desperate for cash, can’t borrow
    Spain is worse off than Greece two years ago
    Spanish bonds spike at worst possible moment

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57424142/big-spanish-banks-slip-closer-to-bankruptcy/

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, one should not always see things in a bad light. Of course Spain’s economy is in the red. But I think we should celebrate the admission of past injustice and cruelty, and the effort to seek redemption, not look for ulterior motives…

  • Grace

    sg @ 16 ““Eh, the population probably was not itching to kill Jews. Most people are not psycho killers.”

    If that’s so, why build “gas chambers” ? -it takes time to design, manufacture such equipment, and ship it.

    Siemens designs and makes radiology equipment, it is sold here in the U.S.

    Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK
    Siemens retreats over Nazi name

    “Siemens is at the heart of Holocaust compensation claims

    German engineering giant Siemens has hastily abandoned plans to register the trademark “Zyklon”, the same name as the Zyklon B poison gas used in Nazi extermination camps, BBC News Online has learnt.
    A year ago, Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete (BSH), the firm’s consumer products joint venture, filed two applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Zyklon name across a range of home products, including gas ovens.

    READ the REST
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2233890.stm

  • Grace

    KK @ 21

    “Of course Spain’s economy is in the red. But I think we should celebrate the admission of past injustice and cruelty, and the effort to seek redemption, not look for ulterior motives…”

    LOL, you jest! The Sephardic Jews wouldn’t to my knowledge, leave the U.S. and other places, with business in gear, doing well to trudge over to Spain. Spain needs money, there is no “redemption” in such a plan, the reasons for offering such a plan is plainly selfish, and self serving.

    I have had Sephardic Jewish friends, I doubt they are willing to up–root themselves for a financial gain for dear old Spain.

  • sg

    Eh, the population probably was not itching to kill Jews. Most people are not psycho killers.

    “If that’s so, why build “gas chambers” ? -it takes time to design, manufacture such equipment, and ship it.”

    Sure, but most of the population weren’t involved in any of that. That was done quietly among a few, relatively speaking. It doesn’t take tens of millions of people to build that stuff. In fact, the basic buildings themselves are rather unremarkable. They wouldn’t even need to tell workers what their eventual purpose might be. Plenty of people who worked on the Manhattan project didn’t know what it was. All they knew was their tiny little piece.

    My point is just that most people are not psycho killers that you can easily sell on the notion of killing people including women and children. Hitler rose in power by pushing pride and prosperity, not by promising people that he would exterminate Jews.

  • Grace

    sg @24

    “Sure, but most of the population weren’t involved in any of that. That was done quietly among a few, relatively speaking.”

    You’re kidding yourself! Maybe everyone wore blinders, and plugged their ears. None of the people in the towns and cities were involved ? – again, you’re kiddig yourself –

    The majority KNEW what was going on, they worked within the war project. The smell of burning flesh was in the air. Those kinds of things are not hidden, nor are the railroad cars that swept along with hundreds of people inside, everyday, taking them from their towns and cities to the camps.

    The getto’s were full of people who had been taken from their homes and business. Those in their cities and towns knew they were gone, they saw the Jews, being thrown out. The Jews were taken through the streets to the getto’s, staying there, and then walking to the rail cars, that took them to the camps – - all within sight of those who were ot Jewish, who had not been up-rooted.

    Above in the piece Dr. Veith posted: last four paragraphs, page 2

    “In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.

    Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.

    “You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,” he said. “They were everywhere.”

  • Grace

    Adolf Hitler novel tops German bestseller list but divides critics
    Kate Connolly in Berlin
    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 5 February 2013
    “Satire depicts Hitler becoming present day celebrity after awakening from 66-year sleep in 2011

    A novel that satirises Adolf Hitler and the personality cult that once surrounded him has topped the bestselling lists in Germany – and posed the awkward question as to whether readers are laughing at him or with him.
    He’s Back (Er Ist Wieder Da), a first novel by Timur Vermes, makes its impact before it is even opened, with a cover which depicts Hitler’s block-like black parted hair, squeezing the title into the shape of his trademark square moustache. The hefty €19.33 (£16.64) price tag is a none-too subtle reference to the year the Nazi party leader came to power in Germany.

    Vermes, a 46-year-old ghostwriter, says the confrontational nature of the book, which has so far sold over 400,000 copies, and tens of thousands of audiobooks, is deliberate at a time when Germans appear to be obsessed by him.

    “The fact is we have too much of a stereotype of Hitler,” he told German media. “He’s always the monster and we can be comforted by the fact that we’re different from him. But in reality he continues to spark real fascination in people, just as he did back then when people liked him enough to help him commit crimes.”

    In the novel Hitler awakes in Berlin in the summer of 2011 having fallen asleep in 1945, in a deliberate parallel with the German fairytale Sleeping Beauty. He becomes a media celebrity – including getting a role on a Turkish-German TV show – before entering politics where he campaigns against dog muck and speeding.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/05/adolf-hitler-novel-german-bestseller

  • sg

    Grace, by the end lots more folks knew what was going on, but by then it was too late. What if Barack Obama turns out to be some crazy and people want to blame you? Because you didn’t stop him. I mean seriously. By the time the smell of burnt flesh was in the air, the people couldn’t just vote Hitler out. The Nazis would shoot them or send them and their kids to the camps. If you think it is horrible that the Nazis were burning your neighbor’s kids, you would be damned sure that it would be more horrible if they burned yours. Once people really grasped the full extent of the evil, they were at once terrified by it and switched to pure survival mode not generous good citizen mode.

  • sg


    “You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,” he said. “They were everywhere.”

    Okay, then it wouldn’t be any trouble at all to come get your family and incinerate them, too.

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  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    One of the most revealing books I’ve read recently documenting to what extent the German population was aware of the Nazi’s agenda is “In the Garden of the Beasts” a well researched account of the American ambassador to Nazi Germany during some of the most important years in the Nazi take over of Germany. It is deeply chilling for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that Hitler could have been stopped in the early 1930s if there had been a will to stop him.

    http://www.amazon.com/In-Garden-Beasts-American-Hitlers/dp/030740885X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362762929&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+garden+of+the+beasts


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